Our local hockey franchise is having some trouble these days. In its coverage of the Coyotes’ bankruptcy the other night, our local Fox affiliate played audio from former Coyotes player Jeremy Roenick explaining that part of the problem was the team has a great arena but it’s in the middle of nowhere and people aren’t willing to drive “50 minutes to an hour and a half” to go see a game.
Of course, if the team had built the arena at the former location of Los Arcos Mall in south Scottsdale, many of us would have been expected to drive east to attend the game. And it might not have taken that long, since it’s 30 minutes from my house in Glendale to Scottsdale but takes three hours to get from Scottsdale to Glendale. (Think about it, the punch line will come.)
One of the advantages of living in the Phoenix area for what will be 32 years on May 17 is I’ve seen first-hand the changes that many of the areas have undergone. For instance, there are relatively few of us around who attended football games at the old Gilbert High School, back before Gilbert became the Southeast Valley’s beacon of light and an example to all of us luddites west of Central. Much like Peoria and Glendale, Gilbert once was little more than a narrow strip of residential and a whole lot of farm land. Hell, Guadalupe Road used to be dirt beyond Alma School Road, making the trip a bit of an adventure.
Gilbert started growing up and eventually the then-new high school was opened, a truly wonderous one-stop creating with everything from classrooms to the gymnasium connected under one roof. Val Vista Lakes was built, giving the city a planned residential development (maybe there was one before, but if there was it’s escaping me.)
Ironically, it was at the time Val Vista Lakes was under construction that Arrowhead Ranch was being built in Glendale. No, folks, not everything in the Northwest Valley has been built in the last five years.
Speaking of which … which opened first, Chandler Fashion Square or Arrowhead Towne Center? Which area was already attracting retail development, as well as tourist dollars courtesy of a two-team spring training complex as early as 1993? Yeah, not Chandler.
My wife used to work processing cattle loans in Chandler twenty years ago. I couldn’t tell you what these were except she said they involved the ranch’s brand. Yet these days, the dear folks in the People’s Republic of Chandler tend to look down on those of us with a 623 area code because, unlike some of us who grew up on the Tri-City border and then moved (albeit across town), they’ve never ventured outside the 480 to find out what else may be around.
Until completion of the Loop 101, Scottsdale was one of the most inaccessible cities in the Valley. Take it from someone who was driving the Greenway Parkway to get across but could get to his parents’ home in Mesa in less time (and twice the distance) because of the freeway access.
But Scottsdale has mountain views, you say? There’s a reason this is called the Valley of the Sun (even if technically it’s more of a basin) … there are mountains all around us, even here in Glendale.
One thing I’ve never been very good about on this website is photography, but maybe the time has come for me to keep the camera in the car to help document what the West Valley really looks like – the shopping, the restaurants, the sports facilities, the golf, the schools (which rank right up there with the top East Valley districts, by the way) and all of the rest. Maybe Jeremy Roenick should pick up the phone and talk to Tony Clark, who lives in Glendale. (And, as I discovered last fall, shops at Best Buy).
Then again, maybe it’s best the eastsiders stay on their side of Central and continue deluding themselves that there’s nothing really happening over here. That Super Bowl? That was on a backlot, kinda like Capricorn One.
And incidentally, JR … Sun Devil Stadium’s an older stadium in Tempe some 40 miles and 45 minutes from my house. And guess what? Every Saturday gameday, you see gold-clad drivers making their way from the West Valley to Tempe to watch the games.
Location’s not the issue. Not playing winning hockey is the problem. But hey, the Coyotes did win as many playoff series this year as the Sharks did.
[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]