Seven years on: $4B in changes for downtown Phoenix between Super Bowls

Jan 27, 2015, 3:34 PM | Updated: 3:34 pm

PHOENIX — Seven years ago, downtown Phoenix was regarded as a sleepier part of the Valley, especially in terms of nightlife.

Most Valley residents would drive in for a game and then get out of dodge to grab a bite or continue their night. After all, Phoenix was a place where people worked, not lived.

In 2015, that story has been completely flipped.

Since the last time the Valley hosted a Super Bowl in 2008, downtown Phoenix has been on the receiving end of $4 billion in investments, transforming into a bustling hub of bars, restaurants and events.

The city expanded its civic center from 300,000 square feet to one million. Three major hotels — the Hotel Palomar, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown and the Westin Phoenix Downtown — were all built.

“And then the light rail connected surrounding communities to downtown Phoenix,” Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman David Rousseau said.

In fiscal year 2013, a record 14.3 million people took the light rail.

Much of the ridership can be attributed to Arizona State University, which opened a campus in downtown in 2006. Since then, it has grown to include several prestigious schools — including the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Nursing & Health Innovation.

As the college grew, so did the food scene. Phoenix is now home to critically-acclaimed restaurants who used the Super Bowl buildup to show the Valley of the Sun is not lacking in tasty options.

“You can spend $20 on four restaurants and get eight items,” Sara Anderson, events manager for community development group Downtown Phoenix Inc., said. “I think people coming into the Super Bowl will be shocked by the prices.”

The Super Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Feb. 1, but downtown Phoenix served as the epicenter for NFL fans during both the Pro and Super bowls. Over one million people were expected to visit the downtown area to attend concerts, the NFL Experience and other entertainment.

Rousseau said the 2015 Super Bowl, along with all the city’s improvements, will set the stage for yet another big game in the desert.

“We want to successfully deliver on our obligation to the NFL but we also want to make sure all of our sponsors that made it possible financially to do that are happy with it and as a result will be ready to turn around and do it again,” he said.

KTAR’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Children's)...

KTAR, Arizona Sports host annual fundraiser for Phoenix Children’s

Phoenix Children’s treated more than 155,000 patients last year. It costs nearly $2.7 million per day to operate the hospital. Phoenix Children's needs your help to continue its lifesaving work.
8 hours ago
Ernie's Liquors owner Joseph Johny hands over a Mega Millions lottery ticket to a customer in Palo ...

Lottery ticket sold in Glendale hits jackpot for $285K

A lucky lottery player hit the Arizona Lottery's Triple Twist Jackpot Thursday in Glendale to win $285,500.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

If your inbox is a mess, here’s a surefire way to keep email in check

If you’re sick of wasting time searching endless or scrolling through your inbox, it’s time to up your email game. Every Gmail user should do this.
8 hours ago
(Facebook photo / Phoenix Fire Department)...

Newly named Pat Tillman Middle School held ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday

The former Balsz Elementary School is now officially Pat Tillman Middle School as a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Friday.
1 day ago
(Phoenix Fire Department Screenshot)...

Firefighters extinguish rooftop fire on large commercial building in Phoenix

Firefighters extinguished a fire on the roof of a large commercial structure located near 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road in Phoenix Saturday.
1 day ago
(Mesa PD Mugshot)...

Mesa suspect booked for repeatedly running over, killing man, police say

A 61-year-old man was arrested Friday for intentionally running over a resident multiple times in east Mesa, authorities said.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Seven years on: $4B in changes for downtown Phoenix between Super Bowls