The University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, is turning 10 years old August 12. Tom Sadler, the president and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, the public body that owns the stadium, will discuss the history of the stadium, whether it delivered on the promises to Maricopa County voters and how the stadium will remain competitive over the next decade.
TED: Coming up next on Arizona Horizon. The Arizona Cardinals home stadium marks its tenth anniversary. And we'll hear from the head of the National Endowment for the Arts those stories next, on Arizona Horizon.
Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.
TED: Good evening and welcome to Arizona horizon, I'm Ted Simons. It's official. Arizona voters will decide if marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. The secretary of state today determined that the campaign to legalize marijuana had collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot as proposition 205. The initiative allows those over 21 to possess limited amounts of marijuana and enacts a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, with most of the money going to state schools and education programs. In a statement released today, the chairman of the Yes on 205 campaign said, quote, "Eighty three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition. This November, we will have the opportunity to end the equally disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition. Prop 205 would
establish a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated
and taxed similarly to alcohol." Opponents of legalized marijuana have filed suit, claiming that the campaign is deceiving voters with misleading information. That lawsuit will be heard in court tomorrow. And state speaker of the house David Gowan is ending his bid for congressional district 1. Gowan called it quits today after his campaign failed to catch fire against 5 other republican candidates looking to succeed democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running for U.S. Senate against Senator John McCain. University of Phoenix stadium, the home of the Arizona cardinals, is turning 10 years old tomorrow. Here now to talk about the facility is Tom Sadler, the president and CEO of the Arizona sports and tourism authority, which is the public body that owns the stadium. It is a public body that owns the stadium. Good to see you again.
TOM SADLER: Good evening. Good to see you.
TED: People forget this is publically owned.
TOM SADLER: They do and I remind folks as much as I can. This should be a point of pride for Arizonans. What the facility has done not only through the historic and memorable moments that have taken place out there, two super bowls, three college national championships- the economic impact is huge. It is over 5 billion dollars when you start to add up all these events which were somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 over the 10 years it's been open.
TED: I want to talk about some of those events in a moment here but first, opened August 1st, 2006. Three years to get this thing built. Were the retractable roof and retractable field requirements or on the wish list?
TOM SADLER: I think when the Cardinals sat down with leadership in the valley to talk about the capabilities of the stadium they wanted it to be state of the art and top in the NFL and the world and wanted it to be multi-purpose and not just for the purpose of football. We do on average 120 events out there every year beyond Cardinal Football and the Fiesta Bowl. It's a very accommodating stadium - it relates to being multi-purpose.
TED: And when you do the other events it is a grass field which is another factor. You just roll it out to the side. It still amazes me.
TOM SADLER: It's a heck of the benefit. They are painting the field for the preseason game tomorrow night which is exactly to the day, I think, ten years when the Cardinals played their first game back in 2006. So that field will go out after the game tonight and we will begin preparing and setting up for a concert on Monday. Guns and Roses is coming to perform. The hall of fame rock and rollers. So it is a very flexible facility and allows us to host a wide variety of events.
TED: 455 million to build and tourism authority $300 million and how much did the cardinals put in?
TOM SADLER: About $150 million and that number keeps going up. As we continue to keep the stadium state of the art we are responding to what we see as customer satisfaction and that can be a promoters perspective to someone watching the event. The team has thrown in roughly another 30 million since 2006. We continue to look at ways to keep it shiny and new and upgraded.
TED: And Glendale 9.5 million dollars as well. Speaking of Glendale why is the stadium located where it is?
TOM SADLER: That history pre dates me. I had just moved from
the valley after living here for 20 years and was off on an island called Hawaii during that time frame but I understand there is history and intrigue as to where the stadium was going to be sighted.
TED: For those of us who were in town the bottom line was the land was available and there for a price and everything else around seemed like between cities fighting each other over too close to an airport claim. And University of Phoenix has a contract 20 years and 154 million. Does it strike folks as odd it is named after a school with no sports teams?
TOM SADLER: I think if you look at what the University of Phoenix sees as value in this I am not sure it is as much correlated to the sports industry as much as it is their name gets mentioned every time the stadium is opened up and that's kind of what they're in it for. They want recognition and they want to have their name out there in the public.
TED: And Glendale gets its name every time there is a by line for a football game in Glendale.
TOM SADLER: Absolutely.
TED: So Guns and Roses are going to play, The Rolling Stones have been there, WrestleMania, you've had high school graduations out there.
TOM SADLER: We have, we do 21 24 a year. It is interesting to watch it. Our management company, SMG, does a real good job of figuring out how to get people on one side of the building for one graduation and bring others as they are exiting the other side so we can just keep doing it over a 3 to 4 day period. I cannot imagine what a great memory that is for those young men and women to graduate from high school in that stadium.
TED: As far as a promise back to when the stadium was first being talked about there were a lot of promises of amateur sports here and different things being helped there. Are those promises and the promises of the stadium coming to fruition?
TED: I think so. I think the stadium and promises made in Prop 302, Arizona Boarders that supported it I think that the collective came together and delivered on those promises. I believe that.
TED: You mentioned earlier you are trying to keep it up to state of the art condition and keep it competitive. Talk about what needs to be done, should be done and has to be done.
TOM SADLER: First, it's a continuing effort to upgrade technology. Wi fi and cellular service everyone's got one of those at a game and wants access to it. Tomorrow night is an unveiling of sorts it's a brand new sound system. It's spectacular. I have heard it tested. I can't wait for them to crank it out. That is a big guest experience coming to those events is to have a quality sound system. I think you have been out there and seen the video board technology. It is technology. We also have to stay up with the facility maintenance of the building as things wear out and I think what we are looking forward to now are the other things within the stadium we can renovate in a way that is, again, increasing our guest's satisfaction.
TED: And the satisfaction of the NCAA and the NFL if they are looking for future super bowls or final fours coming up here shortly. As far as competition is concerned, what is the competition for that football stadium? I know Los Angeles is in the market now. That is going to be competition. San Diego could be building a new NFL stadium.
TOM SADLER: Sure. Sure. I think as hard as it was to finally get a final four out here and that historic event takes place April 1 4 next year we felt we were in a very good position because we were the only facility west of the Mississippi or west of Texas that could host these kind of events. And now to your point Los Angeles is going to have something in a couple of years and maybe San Diego so we have got to keep building on success we've had and the quality of the facility we have to stay in the game.
TED: Ten years. It doesn't feel like ten years. Congratulations on that. Thank you so much for joining us.
TOM SADLER: Thank you. Good to see you.
Tom Sadler: The President and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority