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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tempe puts the fork in the Thunderbird...

As anyone who has been to Las Vegas knows, tourism doesn't make a city. But tourists can make an urban space feel like a city. Who is winning that contest in the Valley? Tempe, as always:
But as cities compete for overnight stays, the numbers could work in Tempe's favor:

• Business travelers' stays increased last fiscal year at almost twice the rate in Tempe as the average rate in Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa and Scottsdale, according to TravelCLICK, a company that tracks tourism figures.

• Sporting events are drawing even bigger crowds. Last year, 2,425 overnight Tempe stays were attributed to the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. This year, that number jumped by about 1,000, according to the Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Yet the vast menu of events at Arizona State University and in Tempe's downtown can overwhelm Tempe's 5,000 or so hotel rooms, city leaders say. Consider the Fiesta Bowl. Many of the cash-carrying fans, along with the Ohio State and Notre Dame football teams, left Tempe to spend their nights in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

That's why plans for expansions at two of the city's most prominent hotels are hailed as big news. Tempe Mission Palms may add up to 200 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, according to Chris Kenney, the hotel's director of marketing. The Fiesta Inn Resort's new ownership is injecting $5 million worth of renovations in the form of landscaping and adding conference space, General Manager Sherry Henry said.

Plus, a new upscale hotel will likely go into Tempe's newest lakeshore project. Starwood Capital Group, the brawn behind the Westin, Sheraton, "W" brands and other hotel chains around the world, has expressed "enthusiastic" interest in putting a luxury hotel on the Tempe Town Lake site, said Chris Salamone, Tempe's development manager.

"Building new hotels to fulfill the needs of all the tourists our events bring in, for a city that's landlocked it's the key to our financial solvency," he said.
It is needful to point out that these are not to be taxpayer-subsidized hotel rooms. They are being built by actual entrepreneurial businesses risking their investors' capital. Amazing...

posted by Greg Swann | 6:17 AM  


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