Let’s start with the story of what it means to be a Super Bowl City. In this case, for Superbowl XLIX, it is a tale of two cities—Glendale and Phoenix. In 2008, the Super Bowl came and went and Central Phoenix didn’t get much of the hub-bub other than a blip on the traffic jam cameras in the I-10 underpass. This year, Superbowl XLIX in Glendale is not just Sunday afternoon on February 1st. No, this year Super Bowl is more of a Super Bathtub and spans an entire week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday and includes massive involvement from the City of Phoenix.
Our typically anemic downtown Phoenix is now uncharacteristically buzz-y with police patrolling on foot, visitors drinking in the street, city workers putting up barricades and ambassadors dishing out advice to anyone who asks. Waiting in line at the NFL Experience are scads of people from the Northeast and Northwest, obvious out-of-towners wearing shorts and t-shirts while the rest of us shiver in overcast 60-degree weather.
“The Experience,” as one local I spoke to has coined it, is an interactive theme park in the Phoenix Convention Center with exhibits and autograph sessions made especially for people who can’t get enough from just one game. Adjacent to it is the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a 12-block party with live music, vendors and a giant rock climbing wall. Our not-so-little, one-horse-town has turned into a Disneyland for sports fanatics. I don’t know whether to be fascinated for frightened. Both emotions are kinda exciting to me, so I am jumping in with both feet!
What’s good about that, you ask? For someone like me it means I get to exercise my voyeuristic muscles and have some fun. This week and into next I will be cruising downtown, chatting up the locals and those hot-blooded Northerners, and looking for the scoop on what exactly happens to a town like ours when rich and famous people come to town and the little people like me are left like orphans at the gate clinging to the bars hoping to get a glimpse of the good life. I’m putting it out to the universe that in my travels I will be granted a golden ticket, unlike the mayor of Glendale who somehow got left out in the cold with the rest of us. How does that happen?
Speaking of Glendale…the city is getting some bad press about what they should or should not have done in the years leading up to this—our second—Super Bowl in the state. While a discussion could quickly slide down the slippery slope of political rhetoric, I will be taking the only road worth reporting from: the (fashionable) boots-on-the-high-ground perspective. Since this is an admittedly interesting and unusual time to be in my fair city, the next few reports will examine life amid one of the largest sporting events of all time.
Next up, what’s Good for our city and culture as the beast known as the Super Bowl rolls into town.