The Valley has had more media, celebrities and athletes traversing its cities in the past week than possibly ever, and with it comes gossip.
As outsiders discover our quirks and charms, they write, tweet and share their observations. The assessments are entertaining and insightful, like eavesdropping on a stranger talking about you.
So, what are people saying about us? How are we comparing to other host cities so far?
Early in the week, ESPN Radio and “SportsCenter” host Scott Van Pelt was surprised with how many people were already visiting Super Bowl festivities.
“I will say this: That for a Monday, there’s a ton of activity. A lot of times it’s crickets,” he said.
“I get the sense that there will be people all over town, and so because folks know what’s here, I get the sense that there will be a lot more foot traffic and activity here than some of the other (host cities).”
ESPN “NFL Live” host Trey Wingo said Wednesday he visits the Valley at least once a year and loves the golf, scenery and hiking.
“Considering everyone from our crew came from a place that just had three feet of snow dumped on it, we love everything about the Valley,” he said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to is hoping to see Phoenix become a more permanent part of the Super Bowl rotation.”
The national coverage has been, at worst, visually stereotypical, said Mark Lodato, assistant dean and broadcast news director at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
“What I’ve noticed most of all in terms of a visual sense is the graphics a lot of the networks are using … it’s a lot of desert landscapes, cactus, Old Western themes which I think, frankly, has rubbed some Valley residents the wrong way,” he said. “It’s not that we’re not proud of the Western area, it’s just not what we are all about.”
The final verdict won’t be in until the game is over on Sunday and thousands of visitors have departed by Monday night. Until then, here are some of the big themes surrounding the Valley in the national news.
Where is Glendale and why is its stadium called ‘Phoenix’?
The first point in any discussion about the Super Bowl is how one refers to our Valley of the Sun. (Hint: They never call it the Valley of the Sun.)
For Newsweek, the University of Phoenix Stadium is “located in the western suburb of Glendale.” To the Boston Globe, it’s “several miles from downtown Phoenix.” It’s actually a 17-mile drive from the Phoenix Convention Center, which is hosting the NFL Experience.
Vox ran an explainer on the stadium’s confusing name.
“This is the home stadium of the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, not a stadium where a university-affiliated team plays. The University of Phoenix is a for-profit college that bought naming rights to the stadium for publicity purposes.”
Apart from the stadium, Forbes reports there are “plenty of opportunities to visit the greater Glendale area,” a phrase that likely has never been applied to the greater Phoenix area before.
Glendale’s mayor is outspoken about the Super Bowl, isn’t he?
Jerry Weiers, who has been the mayor of Glendale since January 2013, has long been outspoken on his disdain for the city’s involvement with major sports and its related debt.
His scorn got national attention Monday when the New York Times reported that Weiers had not been offered a ticket to the game.
The story zeroed in on Glendale’s financial problems.
” ‘The city of Glendale is the poster child for what can go wrong’ when a city invests heavily in sports, said Kevin McCarthy, the president of the Arizona Tax Research Association. ‘You don’t want to be building stadiums and not be able to hire police officers.’ ”
Weiers also told ESPN The Magazine’s Mina Kimes “he doesn’t expect a windfall when his city hosts the big game in February. In fact, he says, ‘I totally believe we will lose money on this.’ ”
“Glendale is no ordinary city,” Kimes wrote. “It’s a place that has given a great deal to sports, reaping little in return. Since 2000, Glendale has helped build three stadiums, including the Cardinals’ field, a silvery dome that sits in the desert like a docked UFO.”
But dang, the Valley is beautiful and pretty cool
Our beautiful weather is a no-brainer, but as people roll into town they’ve noticed our arts, culture, entertainment and dining.
ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian praised the Valley on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio on Monday.
“I love it here; I think it’s great. It really is my Number 1 place in the country to come in the wintertime,” he said. He visits along with other sports leaders when annual NFL football meetings are held at the Arizona Biltmore, and out of all the host cities, “this is almost everybody’s favorite place to come.”
Fernanda Santos, chief of the Phoenix bureau of the New York Times, told a Times reporter that the Valley is an ideal host.
” ‘This is a perfect place for a party,’ she said. Especially this time of year, when temperatures are in the merciful 70s, instead of the 100s, she said, ‘People want to be out and about.’ ”
Much attention has been given to the Roosevelt Row Arts District, Welcome Diner, FilmBar, Phoenix Public Market and Short Leash Sit … Stay, all of which are within a mile of the Phoenix Convention Center and have been mentioned by numerous publications.
Newsweek‘s list of the Valley’s top attractions included Scottsdale Quarter, a place where “you could cast three seasons of ‘MILF Island’ in just one hour of strolling the grounds,” and Talking Stick Resort near Scottsdale, a casino that “has fewer oxygen tanks-per-patron than the other reservation casinos around the Valley.”
A Boston Globe reporter explained the Valley to our Super Bowl tourists like this:
“If you have an opportunity to tailgate between Gisele Bundchen hunting, there is much to see here. The trick is sniffing around like a pig looking for truffles and discovering what this city offers.”
They allow alcohol in the streets!
The Republic reported last week that “Phoenix and state liquor officials have approved plans for an ‘open campus’ where adults can legally consume alcoholic beverages on public streets and sidewalks within an enclosed nine-block area. Organizers said the gathering is the largest special-event liquor license ever issued for downtown.”
The ensuing attention was, well, excited.
SB Nation tweeted “Yes. Yes, this shall do nicely.”
“Phoenix appears to be going out of its way to one-up the Super Bowl party that New York City threw last season,” they wrote Monday.
The news seemed to be the icing on the rum cake.
“An estimated 1 million people will traverse Verizon Super Bowl Central, where there will be concerts, games, attractions and nightly fireworks,” they wrote. “The centerpiece will be a 100-foot rock-climbing wall called the Grand Canyon Experience — naturally, what else would you want in the middle of the world’s largest bar?”
Leonard’s 29 leads the way
MIAMI — Tuesday night was typical of the San Antonio Spurs, who have remained an NBA staple of consistency and dominance by ignoring outside elements and sticking to their philosophy the past 15 years.
It appeared the Miami Heat were entering Game 3 of the NBA Finals with all the momentum, a healthy LeBron James and a return to their comfortable home, but the Spurs erased that with 16 minutes of brilliant basketball that essentially was the key to their victory.
San Antonio converted on a stunning 19 of its first 21 shots, built a 25-point second-quarter lead, then spent the rest of the evening successfully fighting off Miami rallies in 111-92 win at AmericanAirlines Arena. It was the first home loss for the Heat (now 8-1) in the 2014 playoffs.
The Spurs lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one, with Game 4 Thursday night in Miami.
The Spurs led, 55-30, after a Kawhi Leonard jumper with 8:09 left in the second quarter, putting on a remarkable display of ball movement and shot making. Leonard, who totaled just 18 points in the first two games, scored that by the second quarter and finished with a career-high 29.
Leonard drew raves in last year’s NBA Finals, using his brute strength to defend LeBron James, then scoring by attacking the rim or with a soft jumper. His displayed that same aggression and passion Tuesday after being beset with foul trouble in the first two contests.
“Well, we just wanted him to be who he’s been the whole year, in the regular season and in the playoffs,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I think the foul situations the first two games, really he overreacted to them and became very cautious, and he doesn’t play like that. He’s got to be real active at both ends, and so he figured it out.”
Miami cut the deficit to 9 at the end of the third quarter but seemingly had little left for a fourth-quarter run. LeBron James scored 14 points in the first quarter but finished with 22, and Dwyane Wade added 22, but Miami’s defense was the issue.
The Heat fell apart in the searing conditions of Game 1 and allowed the Spurs to convert 14 of 16 shots in the final period. On Tuesday night, they fell behind, 41-25, after the first quarter, allowing the Spurs to make 13 of 15 shot attempts.
“Oh, they jumped on us, and they were the aggressor tonight, and they had us on our heels from the beginning,” James said. “This is something that at this point in the season shouldn’t happen, but they were more aggressive than us. I don’t think we had a lack of urgency. Just they were very aggressive and we didn’t match that. They came in with a desperation that we just didn’t match.”
San Antonio finished shooting 59.4 percent, including 9-for-20 from the 3-point line. Five Spurs scored in double figures as they methodically broke down the Miami defense with crisp passing and sparkling perimeter shooting.
Although the series was tied at 1, there was a perception the Heat had dominated the first two games and could have been ahead, 2-0, if not for James leaving Game 1 with leg cramps. But the Spurs countered a rested James with a 41-point first period and good enough execution defensively to keep their lead.
The Spurs spent the entire third quarter staving off Miami runs. The Heat used a 10-0 surge late in the period that cut a one-time 25-point lead to 7 at 81-74. And James was on the bench during that run as Wade keyed the rally with a layup and two free throws.
With memories of their Game 6 collapse of last season perhaps piercing their minds, the Spurs held on, using a Marco Belinelli 3-pointer to stop the run, then matching Heat buckets in the fourth. The Spurs finally eased matters with a 5-0 run punctuated by a Manu Ginobili breakaway dunk and a 102-84 lead with 5:11 left.
The Heat did not have enough energy to mount another run.
“When we started to get to a different gear in the third quarter, it was just tough to change the energy of the game,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So you have to give them credit for really coming out with an aggressive mind-set on both ends.”
San Antonio opened the game with a staggering haymaker to the Heat that they never fully recovered from. Leonard turned into the offensive juggernaut of the 2013 Finals, as he scored on an array of 3-pointers and powerful drives to the basket.
He was 10-for-13 shooting with 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots in 39 minutes.
“I just was in attack mode trying to be aggressive early. Just knocking down a couple shots got me going and my teammates found me. They did a good job. They just got me involved,” he said. “[Popovich] wanted us to come out just being aggressive on the road and we just wanted to win tonight and we all put a full effort in.”
Tony Parker, who scored just 2 of the team’s first 62 points, scored 6 in the final 2:24 during a 9-2 San Antonio run to end the half. San Antonio put together a stellar 24-minute stretch, shooting 75.8 percent to lead at the break, 71-50.
Leonard and Danny Green combined for 31 of those points, and nine Spurs scored in total. San Antonio ended the half on a 14-5 run, capped by a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Ginobili, who watched from 25 feet as the ball curled into the basket. It was that kind of quarter for the Spurs, who scored on a stunning 19 of 23 possessions.
The 41-point quarter for San Antonio was the first of 40 or more in the Finals since the Celtics tallied 42 in the clinching Game 6 of the 2008 Finals against the Lakers.
By : Gary Washburn
Youth and the Future Golden Gloves
Story by Joseph Martinez & Yvonne Sandoval
At the San Fernando gym you find friends and family together striving to be better at the sport of “Amateur Boxing”
I met Jessie Rodriguez, father and boxing coach for his two sons Jessie 14 and Joshua 19. Joshua is ranked #2 Light Fly Weight National Champion.
I was also introduced to Chris Ramos father and coach to his three boys Joshua 13, Jason 17 and Cresencio 19. Cresencio currently holds the #2 Lightweight National Championship.
I asked, “Guy’s… have any of your boys sustained any injuries?“ “not really” replied one of the dads. “Maybe a cut over the eye, that’s about the worse it has been, said the other. “ “I believe you have a higher chance of getting injured playing football” , replied Jesse Rodriguez. Boxing builds their self-esteem and self-discipline. The mothers of the boys are very proud of their son’s achievements in boxing and when I asked, “ How do the mom’s like this sport for their sons?”
Both coaches at the same time said, “Awww.. .….The wives LOVE IT! They are really in to it .
Boxing takes the boys away from home for competitions many times during the year, so families travel together sometimes for a whole week. Looking at the young boxers ages how do they handle school?
Jessie said, “ I have them enrolled in a home school River City Academy .” The boys visit their teacher regularly in which they receive lessons in the academic subjects.
Chris stated, “My oldest boy is going to attend UTSA after high school and my other boys are enrolled in the traditional high and middle schools here in San Antonio.”
When training for a match how do your boys prepare themselves? One thing is they watch what they eat. They include more protein like chicken and do not eat greasy foods and they cut the sugar.
Will they be going pro or staying at a amateur status? When do you make that move? “That depends on the boys”, said the dads. “Turning pro is tough going at first, you make barely enough to cover expenses for travel, food and lodging but, it should get a bit easier after the first 10 fights when the purse gets larger.”
“When we are on the road. we share rooms to save some money. It seems like we are always on the road and broke but It’s for the love of the sport and the kids”, stated Jesse.
One thing is evident, these talented young men are Focused and Dedicated.
Photos by: Joseph Martinez
River City Attractions
Julio César Chávez Jr. won a fourteen-round fight over Irishman John Duddy on Saturday, June 26th by unanimous decision.
The fight took place at the Alamodome and a day prior to the event, Jorge Alejandro called to invite me to come out and take some pictures of him and Patsy Torres during an afternoon sound check. Alejandro was selected to sing the Mexican National Anthem and Patsy was chosen to sing the American Anthem.
However, they would not allow the press to enter until 4:30 p.m. and I missed the sound check. This meant I would now have to go the fight and I had to give the keynote speech to the River City Academy Class of 2010 at 6 p.m. at the far northwest Restoration Center in Leon Valley.
Giving a commencement speech was a new experience, but I got through it okay and after grabbing a quick bite, I made it back to the Alamodome by 9:35 p.m. arriving at the same time as Torres. She went to her seat and I walked around the long corridor of dressing rooms coming to a stop in front of Julio César Junior’s dressing room, where I ran into a police officer I knew. As we engaged in conversation, Julio César Sr. stepped out in a sharp tuxedo wearing a black rosary over it and a red headband that had “”6-26 Chavez Jr. 10” embroidered in white thread.
I had met the most celebrated athlete in México over twenty years ago and he remembered me. He didn’t say much, but before going out into the dome, he took off his headband, gave it to me and said, “put it on and nobody will question you being back here.” Héctor Pavón took a quick picture of us, than he walked off.
This meant I had free reign as an honorary member of Team Chávez Jr. whom all sported the same headband.
The one awkward and embarrassing moment came when Alejandro sang the Mexican Anthem. Thirty seconds into the anthem people were whistling and cheering as the large overhead screens showed Julio César Jr. warming up in his dressing room. After that the monitors flashed his opponent, Irishman John Duddy doing the same thing. All of a sudden the entire audience of thousands started hissing and booing extremely loud. Meanwhile, Alejandro was not aware of the reason. His face turned white and registered sheer panic as he heard all the booing.
“I was devastated,” Alejandro said afterwards. And he did not find out that the people were booing the image of Duddy on the screens, not Alejandro’s singing and I felt super bad for him, but he was alright after several people told him what had accidentally transpired.
I am not into boxing and after he and Torres sang, I was ready to go home, but I saw an empty spot on a ringside bench, I sat down, stayed and enjoyed the fight without snapping one photo. Realizing I had complete excess, I stayed until after the press conference. I was also invited to join the entourage for an early morning at Mi Tierra Restaurant. I decided to call it a night as I walked out as a new Julio César Jr. fan.
I admit I felt silly wearing that headband, but thanks to that token, I was able to take the exclusive photographs you see on this page — all thanks to the six-time world boxing champion and Mexican icon.