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Pac-12 tournament a home run for the city’s economy | City News

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SCottsdale Stadium is the epicenter of Scottsdale baseball’s past and present.

Originally built in 1956, the current iteration of Scottsdale Stadium opened in 1991 and is the home of the San Francisco Giants’ spring training.

Last month, the Pac-12 conference announced that the stadium and Old Town will host the inaugural Pac-12 baseball tournament May 25-29 under a contract that runs until 2024.

The Pac-12 partnership is the work of three Arizona entities: Experience Scottsdale, the City of Scottsdale and the Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission; the result is a major collegiate sporting event that will draw fans from across the Old Town west.

“We all have different roles and abilities in this area, but it took a village to get there,” said Nikki Balich, executive director of the Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission. “You can’t just say it was a person. So many people have come together for the good of the state and for the good of Scottsdale.

The top eight teams in the Pac-12 standings at the end of the regular season will earn a spot in the double-elimination tournament and the champion will receive the Pac-12’s automatic entry to the NCAA Division I Championship tournament, which culminates to college. World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Participating teams will play on fields that previously served as spring training homes for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics before the Giants moved into the stadium in 1984. .

It’s also home to the Arizona Fall League Scottsdale Scorpions, a baseball team that saw Albert Pujols, Max Scherzer, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Michael Jordan – yes, that Michael Jordan.

The great NBA player was assigned to the Scorpions when he took a two-year hiatus from basketball to pursue his childhood dream of playing big-league baseball. Jordan ultimately couldn’t handle a curve, but it turned out Scottsdale could.

Substantial talks between the Pac-12 and the Scottsdale began in 2019 when the city responded to a request for information sent by the conference.

The hope was to organize the Pac-12 tournament as early as 2020. The Pac-12 is one of the last leagues in the country to host a conference tournament.

“This is their inaugural tournament, so it was very exciting,” said Erika Pumphrey, Senior National Sales Manager for Experience Scottsdale. “They carried out site visits in February 2020 in the hope that maybe we will move forward, whether in 2020 or 2021.”

Then the pandemic struck.

“The intention was for all of this to come to fruition a lot sooner, but we all had to react and kind of pivot and change the way we approach things,” said Scottsdale stadium supervisor Stephanie Tippett.

As the pandemic unfolded, the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission shifted focus. He decided to use the funds received from the government to help others throughout 2020 and provided 10,000 COVID-19 tests, which were performed weekly.

The commission also brought the men’s and women’s basketball programs from the state of San Jose and the state of New Mexico to the valley to play in a temporary “bubble” due to restrictions in California and New Mexico. -Mexico.

Meanwhile, discussions of the Pac-12 tournament have progressed.

“The whole time we’ve been talking to Pac-12, but it kind of got dropped because COVID was happening,” Balich said.

“While we were doing this stuff, Erika Pumphrey from Experience Scottsdale called me up and said, ‘Hey, I just hung up on Pac-12. I understand you were talking to them as well, and we’ll continue that in Scottsdale.

“She worked on it, then it was dropped again because we’re still in COVID. And then all of a sudden it happened.

From now on, the Pac-12 baseball tournament will be added to the list of the history of major sporting events in the city.

Scottsdale has been home to the Waste Management Phoenix Open since 1987. Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale recently served as the venue for the NCAA Division I Golf Championships and is expected to host the event through 2023. And the Giants are thrilling fans every year. League of Cacti in Scottsdale Stadium during spring practice.

“We’ve had a stadium here on this property since the 1960s when the Cactus League was really getting big in Arizona,” Tippett said. “Since then we’ve been a part of Major League Baseball and other baseball tournaments, so I think we’re perfectly suited to host baseball events. “

As well as watching the baseball championship at the stadium, fans will have easy access to all that the city has to offer. Most of the amenities of the old town are a short walk or tram ride away.

“We are urban,” Tippett said. “We fit in perfectly with Old Town Scottsdale. You can go to restaurants or art galleries or walk down to the entertainment district, and we have a lot of hotels nearby. It’s an easy choice for those who want to travel for the baseball tournament to kind of all be in one place and not have to travel very far to enjoy things.

Scottsdale isn’t the only city in the valley to host a baseball championship.

The Western Athletic Conference plays its conference championship tournament at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, the spring training home of Oakland Athletics. Those involved in the organization of the Pac-12 tournament in Scottsdale hope to create “Championship May” for college baseball fans.

“It is vitally important to have people like the Pac-12 in our state as it attracts other organizations to come,” Balich said. “If the Pac-12 trusts us, other people can trust us.”

For now, the Pac-12 baseball tournament will bring that traffic to Scottsdale Stadium and help those who work in the facility.

“You will see a typical decline in event activity as May approaches,” Tippett said. “It is really important to generate additional traffic in the facility so that these people can continue to work, everywhere from our cleaning staff to our food and beverage suppliers to the vendors who will be on site. It just allows them to work throughout the year with more consistent work.

As a result, the economy of the city as a whole will experience a boost after a few difficult years due to COVID-19.

“It’s very attractive for hotels, especially now during the pandemic, to be able to recharge their batteries and recreate some opportunities in tourism,” said Pumphrey.

“Not just through jobs, but also the overall economic impact – restaurants, some art galleries, some golf courses and spas that may have been affected by COVID. We are delighted that we can not only create jobs , but also have an economic impact on the destination.

It was a collaborative effort between the three Arizona entities, and it could be the start of a long-term relationship with the Pac-12.

“We hope that once they come here we can run the event to their standards and above what they hope to expect not only for their players and the Pac-12 but their fans and create an event. annual that remains in Scottsdale, ”said Pumphrey.

“This is our overall goal: to welcome people into what Scottsdale is capable of doing and presenting for these types of events and to create lasting partnerships. “

According to Pumphrey, if all goes according to plan, the Pac-12 baseball tournament will spotlight Scottsdale nationally in the same way as the Fiesta Bowl football game for Arizona.

Ultimately, while fans can look forward to a championship baseball and top-notch hospitality, the city and the commission are eager to make an overall positive impact on Old Town Scottsdale.

“I like helping people,” Balich said. “It just makes me happy. This is how important it is. We’ve had two such difficult years, but it’s going to be great. “

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