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Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz not Phoenix

Kaila White, The Republic | 7:20 a.m. MST January 30, 2015


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.”

Pretty simple!

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?”