We talked with Devney Preuss, the President and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. about the economic outlook for downtown, how many bars and restaurants closed during the pandemic, and how many are slated to open.
We considered how the Suns’ success may have impacted businesses. Devney can talk about the return of events, including sports, and has been huge for downtown-bringing the energy and excitement. In addition to the economic boost, Devney talked about the cultural impact sports had on downtown as well.
According to Downtown Phoenix Inc., before the pandemic, the City of Phoenix Community Economic Development Department and the Phoenix Suns did an economic impact study on the arena.
153 million dollars worth in jobs were dependent on Arena events. For example, servers at nearby restaurants, hotel staff, parking garage attendants, suppliers, and vendors for Arena operations (Source: City of Phoenix Community Economic Development Department and the Phoenix Suns, 2019).
The arena essentially went dark during the pandemic, so zero dollars coming in versus $153 Million in annual impact was a big difference, not only for our local bars, restaurants, and hotels, but for the entire city, region, and state.
Preuss defined where Downtown Phoenix really is. She told us how many bars and restaurants closed during the pandemic. She said, surprisingly, they lost 10% in the area during the pandemic. She said they actually have more now than they had before the pandemic.
She talked about the hotels. She said they got hurt just like the other revenues. She said some stayed open because they had airline partnerships but many had to close their doors.
During the pandemic, they were also able to get some things done, like construction, renovations, and other things like light rail work.
She said they are really seeing lots of customers come back and it has helped the businesses make up the revenue they lost. Although, she said there is still a long way to go.