Opinion

Henninger: A pat on the back for Scottsdale

Posted 4/26/21

For those who like to bellyache about our city, this column is not for you.

It can be a struggle to escape the negative quicksand embedded in today’s media where unhappy people make it their …

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Opinion

Henninger: A pat on the back for Scottsdale

Posted

For those who like to bellyache about our city, this column is not for you.

It can be a struggle to escape the negative quicksand embedded in today’s media where unhappy people make it their passion to amplify everything they think is wrong with Scottsdale.

Instead, we’re going to give them a time out and spend a moment enjoying a few things that make us proud, not ashamed, of what we believe is the finest city in the state.

Why not? Much of the world has been enjoying our city from afar over the past few months, so why shouldn’t we, too?

That point was a takeaway from a Scottsdale chamber meeting recently, which featured an update from three of the city’s major event producers: the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Barrett-Jackson auto auction and the Charros-Giants partnership on spring training.

These are signature events, and no place is known for hosting internationally acclaimed events better than Scottsdale. Despite the daunting obstacles posed by the pandemic, all three still were held this season, and they were done in ways that made our city proud.

Lots of flexibility, adjustments and collaborative teamwork with the city and business partners were needed to pull them all off. It worked.

The Open capped its crowd size to 5,000 daily, had far fewer corporate suites and was a tamed down version from what the world knows as “the greatest show on grass.” But it was the first major golf event on the PGA Tour that allowed fans back in a sizeable capacity following the COVID lockdowns. That in itself was a notable achievement.

Barrett-Jackson moved its auction from January to March, making it safe for a reduced crowd size. While its numbers were down a bit it still posted a healthy $105 million in sales, with bidders representing 13 countries, including 441 who submitted bids over the internet, racking up $8.6 million in sales.

The Valley’s spring training venues also cut back on crowds, with the Giants capping seating at Scottsdale Stadium at 25 percent. And while the loss in ticket and advertising sales may affect what the Scottsdale Charros can do for the many charities it benefits, the group already is working on other ways to raise funds to help make up the difference.

All three events drew national if not worldwide audiences on broadcast outlets and social media. All three went off without a hitch — no virus spread, no disruptions, just peaceful, high-quality entertainment for all of us to enjoy and for the world to see.

As Rachel Sacco, CEO of Experience Scottsdale, commented: “They lifted our brand. We’re one of the few places in the world that was able to hold events like these” during the pandemic challenge.

She’s right. And if you’ve been downtown the past month you’ve seen a nice sign for the merchants there, too: Lots of visitors. The hotel industry also had a nice rebound in March, with 75 percent occupancy for the last week of the month. Just a year ago, that number was 10 percent.

Let’s give the naysayers a pause. Instead, let’s remember why we live, work and play here. Scottsdale: It doesn’t get any better than this.

Editor’s Note: Don Henninger, executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at donh@scottsdale.com.

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