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Hotel prices skyrocket in advance of crowds | City News

Glendale, indisputably, has “the Big Game.”

But Scottsdale, almost inarguably, has “the Big Fun.”

Gregory Hays, a Main Street mainstay for decades, took a break from hawking his books to visitors to answer a question: Why would people come here rather than Glendale for Super Bowl week, considering the often brutal 27-mile commute from Scottsdale to State Farm Stadium.

“Scottsdale has become a tourist mecca. We’ve got the best hotels, the best restaurants. There’s hundreds of restaurants, there’s nightlife, there’s shopping–there’s a pulse, it’s absolutely dynamic,” Hays boasted.

“There’s nothing happening in Glendale. Nothing.”

Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers bristles when people say things like that. He said his favorite fun place around Glendale is Lumberjaxes in Westgate, an ax-throw from the stadium.

“Downtown Glendale has a lot of fun, international food choices,” Weiers said, stressing, “Everybody wants to be in Glendale at the game, and that’s fun!”

Even so, the thousands of hotel rooms around Scottsdale are selling out for Super Bowl week at massively inflated prices.

A few days ago, for example, rooms at the Rodeway Inn that normally go for around $125-150 per night were still available this week – for up to $800. The modest Comfort Suites Old Town had rooms going for upwards of a thousand dollars a night this week, about five times the normal price.

This week, it should be a different story: With sports network ESPN doing live broadcasts with games and live music on Main Street throughout the week, thousands are expected to descend on Old Town like blitzing Eagles defenders.

“Where are they all going to park?” Gregry Hays wondered from his Arizona West Galleries.

The city said Scottsdale Airpark expects to have 33 departure slots and three arivals an hour the day after the game, and that it had 1,189 “operations” throughout the weekend of the 2015 Super Bowl. It is bracing for more, especially after an $11 million runway upgrade and a $5 million project adding five aircraft bays.

How many people will descend on Old Town this week?

“I’m thinking 100,000,” said Ike Esses, owner of Esses Rare Objects d ‘art.

Esses and Hays discussed having Super Bowl Week events almost literally at their doorstep, a contrast to 2015, the most recent year Glendale hosted the Super Bowl with events in Scottsdale.

“Last time, they did (Super Bowl Week) stuff in the waterfront,” Esses said. “I didn’t benefit–did you?”

“I did OK,” Hays said.

Scottsdale’s Tourism Development Fund, which collects revenue from visitors’ “bed tax” on rooms, is helping fund Super Bowl marketing, as it has in the past.

According to a 2020 economic development report delivered to City Council, Scottsdale used tourism money to “invest” about $650,000 to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.

That’s nearly doubled, this time around: “Using the city’s 2017 gross room sales, the Host Committee calculated Scottsdale’s contribution (for Super Bowl LVII) at $1,212,401,” according to the report.

Largely viewed as the biggest annual sports event on the planet, the Super Bowl – and the days leading up to it – comprise a blow torch igniting the city’s economy. Scottsdale generally does well, this time of year, particularly with the WM Phoenix Open luring visitors.

Add in a Super Bowl, and you can almost hear the blips of tens of thousands of credit card transactions.

Indeed, the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University estimated the 2015 Super Bowl had an economic impact of $719.4 million on the region. The city estimated the last Super Bowl generated an additional $1.7 million in revenues for Scottsdale – almost three times its investment.

“The metropolitan Phoenix area successfully hosted the 1996, 2008 and 2015 Super Bowls and each time the game and ancillary events were held, the economic benefits of hosting one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events were clearly demonstrated,” the 2020 Scottsdale City Council report stated.

The report’s conclusion: “a bed tax investment of $1,212,401 to host Super Bowl LVIl coupled with the sponsorship benefits, extensive television coverage and worldwide media exposure should provide substantial value to the city investment sponsorship amount.”

A return on the investment is already being felt, with most of Scottsdale’s 9,354 hotel rooms booked this week.

The impact should be felt even at places with no connection to sports, such as Sees’s Candy – where visitors are asked, “Can we get any chocolate footballs for you for the Super Bowl?”

At Salty Senorita in Old Town, manager Zachary Lindell was gearing up as Super Bowl week approached. “We’re expecting to be really busy,” he said. “It’ll be stressful – but fun.”

Getting sports junkies who pass “gallery row” along Main Street on their way to ESPN festivities to stop-and-buy, rather than merely window shop, is more of a challenge.

“Will we benefit – having an average sale of $3,000?” Esses pondered.

Hays has far more modest prices at his books-heavy gallery. Whether or not he sees a direct increase in sales, Hays was pumped up about Super Bowl Week.

“It’s gonna be fun, festive, vibrant,” he said, perhaps picturing the thousands of new faces he can pitch, in barker-like fashion.

“It’s gonna be galvanic.”

And then, Hays, the self-proclaimed “maestro of Main Street,” got back to business, pitching browsing tourists like Patrick Mahomes looking for receivers: “Hello, guys. Beautiful day. You all look happy. I’ll sell you a book and you’ll really be happy.”

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