October 7, 2004
A decision by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce to host an Arizona State University homecoming event in downtown Phoenix has drawn heavy criticism from the Tempe City Council.
Council members have decided to boycott the chamber's dinner and refused to reschedule an unrelated Tempe-sponsored event booked on the same night.
By hosting the dinner in the neighboring city, chamber officials said they are attempting to reach out to the business community throughout the Valley and draw regional support for the university.
But council members said ASU football and homecoming events should stay on Tempe's turf.
"The last time I checked, the ASU main campus is in Tempe, Arizona, and the football game is played in Tempe, Arizona," Councilman Ben Arredondo said. "I think there is a fine tradition here that needs to be respected."
Mary Ann Miller, president and CEO of the chamber, said the chamber also was unable to find a site in Tempe suitable for the event. During this time of the year, the chamber was searching for a site with indoor and outdoor facilities in case it rained, she said.
"When we made the decision we knew it would be controversial, but we felt it was the best decision for the event," Miller said. "I know that 90 percent of the time it won't rain, but we have to prepare for that 10 percent."
The ASU FestDevil Homecoming Gala will start at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in the Bank One Building Grand Lobby, 201 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Admission is $150 per person or $1,500 to reserve a table for 10. All seven council members plan to boycott the event and attend an awards banquet honoring residents who serve on Tempe's boards and commissions. That event is closed to the public.
Vice Mayor Mark Mitchell said he is disappointed that the chamber did not look to the council for help finding a site or with any other concerns and problems.
"We take great pride in the fact that ASU is in Tempe and when you think of ASU football and homecoming you think of Tempe," Mitchell said. "I'm really disappointed with the lack of communication."
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said he was "grateful that the chamber has taken the opportunity to reach out to ASU and the Valley and realize the importance of that partnership."
Since taking office in mid-July, Hallman has made regional cooperation a cornerstone of his administration. He has pledged to strengthen the ties with neighboring communities, especially Phoenix.