Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peaceful coexistence of football and the arts

Arizona was flush with victory when the NFL Cardinals pulled off a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Arizona was never supposed to get this far, so we have to give Kurt Warner & Company a little credit for hanging in there. I'm a Denver Broncos fan, so what do I know? One radio report said that the Cardinals hadn't hosted a home playoff game since 1947 when the team was in Chicago. All those years in Saint Louis and the Cardinals never had a hometown playoff game? I may have to look up that fact on The Google.

Tucsonians didn't seem too electrified by the win, from what I could see. Maybe they're too far from the epicenter of activity in Glendale, which is west of Phoenix and about 120 miles or so from here. At one point, the Cardinals planned to build the new stadium in a so-called blighted area north of downtown. Living within the blight at the time was a coterie of creative types building the city's first artist district. That's the Roosevelt Row district that my son and I visited on Friday and Saturday. It still has a way to go before it's thriving all the time and not just during weekends, but that day will come. Imagine that the district could have been buried under the crushing weight of stadium skyboxes leased by tycoons who were quickly losing their dough in bad investments and asking the gubment for more, please sir, more.

I'll take the art.

If you want to talk economic development, the arts beat sports in most U.S. cities. A study in Denver a few years ago showed that the arts contribute more money to the metro economy than sports. And Denver is one sports-crazy town. As in Denver, Phoenix boasts the big three professional sports franchises: Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Cardinals (NFL) and Suns (NBA). Denver has the added draw of the NHL Avalanche. I don't know if there's an NHL team in the Valley of the Sun.

On Saturday, Kevin and I rode the new Light Rail from the Heard Museum to Roosevelt Row. The trains were jammed with people. They (the trains not the passengers) were quiet, clean and fast. Inexpensive, too. Nobody checked our tickets but we were warned over the P.A. that the transit police could stop us at any time and ask for our passes. If none was forthcoming, the transit cops could throw us off the train, just like they do in old Buster Keaton silents.

Tomorrow's the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day March at the University of Arizona, followed by an MLK Day Festival in Reid Park. Best way to spend my last full day in Arizona.

No comments: