The 2008 Super Bowl will be played in the West Valley, but the teams — and the thousands of fans who want to be near them — will be spending their time and money in East Valley hotels.
And despite losing the main event to Glendale, Tempe could score one of the most popular Super Bowl-related attractions — the NFL Experience, which typically attracts more than 200,000 visitors in two pregame weekends.
The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community is pegged to house the National Football Conference champs, and the Westin Kierland Resort, a north Phoenix hotel with a Scottsdale address, will get the American Football Conference team, said Debbie Wardrop, president of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
"It’s because the teams will practice in Tempe, and the NFL doesn’t want them to spend a lot of time on the road," she said Wednesday.
Wardrop, the NFL’s director of special events before she took on the leadership of the Arizona organization, briefed Valley Hotel and Resort Association members on progress of plans for the upcoming gridiron extravaganza during a lunch session at the Pointe South Mountain Resort in Ahwatukee Foothills.
The teams, NFL officials, special event workers, international media, 72,000 Super Bowl ticket holders and another 50,000 or so fans who will come without tickets are expected to leave local businesses and city and state coffers $350 million richer, she said.
Valley hoteliers have already promised to save an estimated 19,500 rooms to accommodate the out-of- towners, Wardrop said.
But lots more will be needed for the tens of thousands of visitors who come to just be part of the action, she said.
The blocked hotel rooms are scattered throughout the metro area, Wardrop said.
And so will be the associated events. The Wigwam Resort in the West Valley will get the NFL Charities golf tournament. The JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge in northeast Phoenix will get the "Taste of the NFL" culinary event.
And Tempe Town Lake is in contention with Glendale for the NFL Experience, the massive tentful of games, exhibits and NFL-related activities that attracts more than 200,000 visitors, Wardrop said. The hugely popular attraction was staged on the Tempe turf during Super Bowl XXX in 1996.
The designated team hotels — and the others saved for visiting VIPs, workers and gamegoers — still have to get the NFL’s blessing during an upcoming onsite inspection, Wardrop said. All the hotels signed anti-gouging contracts, she said.
But just filling up every room for several nights at winter season rates will be a big boon for local inns, said Kristen Jarnagin, spokeswoman for the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.
"At that time of year our prices are high anyway," she said.
If, as expected, the NFL gives its OK, the NFC team will take up 400 of the Sheraton’s 500 rooms for at least four nights, Jarnagin said. The other 100 resort rooms and up to 300 rooms in a new limited-service hotel scheduled to be built nearby should fill up fast at highseason rates, she said.
The Chaparral Suites Resort in Scottsdale has blocked more than 200 suites for several nights for the Super Bowl Committee to allocate, said general manager Tom Silverman. But he expects to fill up the rest even though the game is across town.
"Scottsdale is still a draw," he said. "People will still want to stay in Scottsdale."
With the freeways, it’s a quick trip to the West Valley, he said.
Mesa isn’t expecting to pack all its hotels this time as it did in 1996 when the game was played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, said Robert Brinton, executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Brinton figures the city’s full-service properties such as the Hilton Phoenix East-Mesa and the Marriott Phoenix Mesa will gain their share of groups and special parties, but the smaller, limited-service properties may not fare as well as they did for Super Bowl XXX.
But Brinton said the biggest bonanza could be exposure to the corporate executives who will come to the Valley for the first time to see Super Bowl XLII. If they like what they see, they may stage a future business meeting in Mesa or relocate a branch of the company there, Brinton said.
The millions of fans who will watch the game on TV also could be enamored enough to book an East Valley vacation.
Nearly 134 million Americans watched the last year’s Super Bowl, Wardrop said.
That compares with 122 million Americans who voted in the 2004 presidential election, she said.