I’ve been in Arizona for the past four days covering the run-up to the National Championship game between Florida and Ohio State. With the game set for Monday night, the fans have started flowing into the “Valley of the Sun” this weekend.
I’ve been to Phoenix a few times, but this is the first when the distinct difference between the suburbs has been so delineated. I’m actually staying in a place called Paradise Valley. Not Phoenix, not Scottsdale, not Tempe and not Glendale. And don’t mess that up or the locals will get on you.
Scottsdale is kind of “upscale” but a strip mall with cactus in front of it is still a strip mall. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but there really aren’t any landmarks to outline your trip or to use for reference. It’s all by roads and luckily they’re laid out North/South and East/West.
Our live location is at the stadium where they’ll play the game in Glendale. They’re very proud of what’s going on in Glendale, especially with all of the new construction. “We have a very active city manager,” one of the smiling “Glendale Ambassadors” told me. “He’s constantly selling Glendale and the City Council has faith in him and goes along with it.”
They built the Glendale arena for the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL and they’ve now completed a $680 million football stadium to house an active and extensive bowl game schedule as well as the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a palace, no question with a retractable roof and a retractable field. They move the field out side into this big concrete pad in order for it to get some sun and they’ll put the water on it. The roof goes back in 20 minutes; it takes the field 1 hour and 15 minutes to roll out side.
It’s an engineering marvel, and it’s in the middle of nowhere.
It sits like a spaceship in the middle of the desert and they’re using it to attract businesses, restaurants, hotels and the like out to Glendale. There’s a huge “lifestyle” center next to the stadium with movie theaters, restaurants and shops. Where the people come from, I’m not sure, but they drive in like bees to a hive. It’s kind of like that scene in “Close Encounters.” The ship is there and the people just flock to it.
One thing they have is plenty of land. As far as you can see, they can expand. It’s just a matter of getting water to where ever they are.
I’m staying at the Camelback Inn, and old destination spa that’s on 125 acres hard against one of the “mountains” in the Paradise Valley/Scottsdale area. All the buildings are adobe style; one story and the rooms are called “casitas.” Each room has a sundeck and feels very remote from anything else.
President Eisenhower, Bing Crosby, Arthur Godfrey and other stars of that era used the Camelback Inn as a base in the Southwest. There’s plenty of golf around and the higher you go into the hills the more spectacular the homes.
The Camelback has a running route mapped out through the neighborhoods next door and up into the hills. For a flatlander like me, it was tough to negotiate those hills during a 40 minute run! Perhaps you can call it a run, it was more like a plodding march. I came up behind a couple walking up one of the hills and said, “I might not pass you.” They laughed, but I was serious!
I can also tell you that as warm as it gets during the day have no bearing on how cold it gets at night. It’s’ been in the 70’s during the day and easily in the mid to low 30’s at night. I can see where you’d like it here and a lot of people from the mid-west are picking Arizona over Florida for retirement.
The Phoenix area has the largest Ohio State Alumni club in the country. Most Gator fans I’ve seen say they’re outnumbered, for now. The Buckeyes have been here for 4 of the last 6 years and know the drill. In fact, most of the concession stands are over run with Ohio State gear, with some Orange and Blue sprinkled in.