Here was yesterday’s plan: finish my morning work early, say by 10:30, take a quick shower and head to Gordon Biersch at the Westgate City Center before the masses started arriving for last night’s BCS National Championship Game between Florida and Ohio State. I didn’t have a ticket and had a meeting scheduled for early evening, so going to the stadium for a scalped ticket (legal in Arizona) was out of the question. But having lunch in the middle of it all seemed like a good way to soak in some atmosphere.
Here was yesterday’s reality: bringing paperwork to one seller that my office had not yet sent, and educating a second seller on the limited information on his home available both through Realtor.Com and the IDX feed on Dalton’s Arizona Homes. Time of departure: 12:05, or about 65 minutes later than originally planned.
Bye-bye lunch plans.
By the time I arrived at Westgate, lines at Gordon Biersch were out the door and the place already was packed (including one gentleman in a two-foot tall, day-glo orange wig. Wish I had brought my camera.) I imagine the wait at the other restaurant currently open, the Yardhouse, were equally long.
What visitors to University of Phoenix Stadium saw yesterday will have little resemblance to what the visitors to the stadium for Super Bowl XLII will see next winter. Where once only Glendale Arena stood, a large-scale retail and office development has since arisen.
And while some of the retail section is open – the aforementioned two restaurants, some fast-food-like places and an AMC movie theater – the best is still to come. Including (as my heart begins to flutter) our very own Margaritaville restaurant. And yes, I will be wasting away there more than once.
Before I forge on, one quick game note … Florida destroyed Ohio State, 41-14. Like about anyone else not wearing orange and blue, I never saw it coming. Between Boise State and Florida, it was a good week in Glendale for a terrible color combination.
Also in development at Westgate, along 91st Avenue, are residential townhouses and condos. The slogan says “Live in the Middle of it All,” but is that really going to be a good thing? At noon yesterday, six and a half hours before kickoff, it already was challenging to drive around Westgate’s outskirts. Obviously parking won’t be an issue for residents but simply reaching their home could be. And there are events most nights of the year, if not at University of Phoenix Stadium then at Jobing.Com Arena (formerly Glendale Arena.)
Several years ago I experienced something similar. I had just separated from my first wife and had moved into apartments across the street from the Peoria Sports Complex. March was a wonderful month and a difficult month all at once. On the days I scheduled off, I’d wake up late, walk across the street to get a burger at the unfortunately closed Monastery Too and catch a spring training game. (With the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners both training in Peoria, there’s at least one game nearly every day in March.)
But on those days I had to work, I found myself plotting my trip home carefully to try and avoid the crush of cars leaving the stadium after the games were over. My daughter and I often would make sidetrips so I could be home closer to 5 than 4, just to avoid the traffic hassles.
I lived with that for only one month. And only a fraction of the people you’ll find at any of the events at Westgate, except maybe my wife’s beloved Arizona Sting, will be at any one spring training game.
So live in the middle of it all? Maybe still a great plan, but mostly if you’re plan is to be an attendee almost as much as a resident.