Sports & Rec
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“Certainly it wasn’t just us. Not even close”
As President of the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, Jason Rowley has a big job supervising all business operations of the Suns and the Mercury and overseeing the club’s interests in the management of US Airways Center, the Legends Entertainment District, and affiliated entities. In addition, he’s an award-winning dad of two young girls, a Thunderbird, and a board member of Downtown Phoenix, Inc.
Originally from Tucson, Rowley has spent ten years working in downtown Phoenix, first at Snell & Wilmer, where he represented the team’s current ownership group in their acquisition of the club in 2004. He came on board as General Counsel in 2008, then became COO and was named President in 2012.
Because downtown has been his career home for the last decade, he’s had a floor seat for a lot of the changes that have brought new life to downtown.
“It’s great to see how it’s progressed over the last decade and how much has occurred in that time – biomedical; ASU and the new law school; what’s happened with CityScape; what’s happened with Roosevelt Row and all the artist districts; and Metro Light Rail. And now there’s more of a residential core down here,” said Rowley. “Just to see downtown become more of a destination is great.”
While Rowley acknowledges that building the US Airways Center back in the 80s helped to serve as a fundamental building block for downtown, he’s quick to note, “But certainly it wasn’t just us. Not even close. Any kind of urban development is going to take the input of a wide variety of people and interests…from people who want to live down here, to small business people, to people who are more community-based: artists and the artists’ districts, students. Those are all people that have helped build downtown into what it is.”
“Any kind of urban development is going to take the input of a wide variety of people and interests…from people who want to live down here, to small business people, to people who are more community-based: artists and the artists’ districts, students. Those are all people that have helped build downtown into what it is.”
While the Suns have a market way beyond the downtown core, having their offices in downtown and playing their games in downtown definitely impacts the way they do business. “No question, you think about the market as a whole…but ultimately, like anything else, whatever neighborhood you’re in you tend to focus more on that neighborhood. Where your residence is you’re going to operate that way, and from a business standpoint, you’re going to operate that way.”
For Rowley, being a good neighbor is just good business. “I feel that we’ve developed great relationships with the folks that are surrounding us and that we surround, as well. We’ve built great relationships with the Convention Center, with the Diamondbacks, CityScape, and a great relationship with some of the local folks. We do employee events over at the Duce, Arrogant Butcher, and now with Bitter & Twisted, all the time. We want to make sure we’re viewed as a good community partner in the downtown area.”
While many people come downtown to attend games, concerts and other events, it’s absolutely critical to create great experiences for people beyond the main event. “You want to provide a better experience for people not just when they’re at the game, but for two hours before and maybe an hour and a half after,” says Rowley. “It’s important to think about how you can develop something that creates a higher level of interest for everybody in this area.”
Rowley sees a crucial role for Downtown Phoenix Inc. “DPI has a key role as an aggregator…or perhaps facilitator may be a better word for it. You can get caught up in your day-to-day – every business does, every individual does, every entity does. Everyone ends up focusing on their own thing. It’s good to be able to step back and sit in a room with other decision-makers who are leading their respective constituents and hear everyone’s point of view and perspective. When major things have to happen down the road, like an expansion of Symphony Hall, or the addition of light rail lines, for example, you have better relationships with the other stakeholders; you’ve made yourself aware of what their concerns are going to be, and you’ve been able to voice what your concerns are as well.”
He believes Dave Krietor is a great choice as the leader of DPI. For Rowley, it’s all about the structure. “If you get down to the nitty gritty of the structure, it (DPI) is taking these organizations that all had a downtown focus but were somewhat disjointed, and giving them more commonality and some alignment in terms of their goals and purpose and structures. As a business person and someone who structures organizations, that just makes sense to me.”
“Having the all-star game is a testament to what downtown has to offer… They have other options…but they saw the opportunity for what we can do as a downtown and as an organization.”
The next key element on the horizon for Rowley is to develop more permanent residential options in the core, which he sees as a “chicken and egg” situation. “Do people want to come in and put in some of the retail and services that would support residential? A lot of times business people aren’t going to do that until they know there are enough residents to support what they’re doing. I kind of scratch my head and wonder ‘who are going to be the people with the courage to step out and do it first?’ …It takes some people with courage and conviction to be willing to do that and take some visionary leadership.”
This is another area where Rowley sees DPI playing an integral role. “DPI can develop the business case for downtown with business people at every level – small, medium and large…by speaking with a united voice to say ‘here’s a vision of what it could look like, and here is role that you can potentially play in it.'” It’s not always going to be smooth sailing, of course, but Rowley expressed optimism about the future. “There are always obstacles, and the bigger it gets, the more voices, it will get more complicated and the more people you will have to satisfy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work through those things.”
He’s beginning to see a shift in awareness of what downtown has to offer. “I feel that, in the market, people are starting to become aware, I really do. The people who don’t quite understand yet tend be those who are traveling for business and it’s been five or ten years since they’ve been here. The thought of staying downtown…well, for example, my mom’s coming next week from North Carolina and I’m putting her up at the (Hotel) Palomar. She hasn’t been here in a few years and her first comment was “Downtown?’ I told her ‘just wait and see.’ So, I think there is still some education process, but it’s not as hard as it used to be.”
“Any time you have a bunch of type A individuals who are professional athletes who are all told they’re going to be the worst at something, they’re going to try to prove them wrong. “
And what does it mean for US Airways to be hosting the WNBA All-Star Game this month? “Having the all-star game is a testament to what downtown has to offer,” he said. “Let’s face it, it’s in July; they had a lot of choices about where they could go and they chose Phoenix. They have other options…but they saw the opportunity for what we can do as a downtown and as an organization.”
Of course we couldn’t conclude our conversation with him without mentioning the remarkable success of last season’s Suns team. Rowley laughed with obvious pleasure. “Last year was extra special because all of the prognosticators had us being essentially the worst team in the west for sure, and potentially the worst team in the NBA, and we were the surprise team of the NBA by far! A lot of that has to do with the changes we’ve made in the front office…and the team itself just really came together.”
He smiled and continued, “Any time you have a bunch of type A individuals who are professional athletes who are all told they’re going to be the worst at something, they’re going to try to prove them wrong. And next year will be even better.”
Jason Rowley is obviously a man with a passion for downtown Phoenix and real enthusiasm for what’s ahead. “We’re at the place now where everyone realizes that downtown is an important asset and piece of the community to focus on. I feel like we’ve hit a certain level of momentum here that once you get there it’s easier to maintain. You’ve kind of gotten over the hump a little bit.” He adds, “No single party, organization or institution, whether it’s private, public or community-based is going to completely move the needle. It’s going to take all those people working together.”
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ARIZONA SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE LAUNCHES COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN
Host Committee partners with NFL Foundation to distribute $2 million to Arizona nonprofits
Today the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee announces its community campaign for Super Bowl XLIX. In addition to creating direct economic impact for Arizona, investing in the community and local nonprofits is paramount to the Host Committee’s mission to leave a positive lasting legacy from Super Bowl XLIX. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is partnering with the National Football League (NFL) Foundation to distribute more than $2 million to Arizona nonprofits leading up to Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015.
With the launch of the “In the Community” web page, www.azsuperbowl.com/community, local nonprofits are encouraged to visit the site to learn about the Host Committee’s giving mission and focus areas. The legacy grants will focus on distributing dollars to local nonprofits that submit proposals with a key focus in education and youth health and wellness programs. The application will be available online June 23 until July 11.
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has also partnered with the Arizona Community Foundation to provide the administration to distribute the foundation dollars. Their expertise in the nonprofit sector as well as the synergies in the foundation focus areas will be a tremendous asset to the Host Committee.
The NFL Foundation annually donates $1 million towards Super Bowl legacy programs and is matched by local private and public donations.
“Giving back to the local nonprofit community is a tremendous opportunity that will allow us to leave Arizona in a better place as a result of Super Bowl XLIX. We appreciate the local business leaders and corporations support to make this investment possible and look forward to the many legacy projects that will be funded leading up to the Big Game,” said David Rousseau, Chairman, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
The “In the Community” web page also features current community outreach events that the Host Committee has participated in throughout Arizona ranging from tree planting events to literacy fairs and football clinics. In addition, there is a donation page for the public to join the movement to leave a lasting legacy in Arizona by donating online and becoming an active philanthropist.
Photos courtesy of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Go Skateboarding Day (June 21st) has become a tradition throughout the entire skate community. It’s also an opportunity to give back to all who support skateboarding year round…the SKATEBOARDERS. With the consistent support from the Skateboarding Industry, we at Cowtown have been fortunate to watch it grow over the years. Its always been a good time and we are looking forward to this years events.
Cowtown is proud to have partnered with eS to bring the eS Game of S.K.A.T.E. back to AZ for the first time since 2011! It’s a perfect fit for Go Skateboarding Day.
On top of that we’ll be giving out free food and drinks, premiering Orchards Stone Soup, Product Giveaways and finishing it up with a nighttime session in the streets of Downtown Phoenix.
Its a free event on June 21st with registration starting at 5pm. The eS Game of S.K.A.T.E. will start at 6. Orchards Stone Soup video will premier about 9.
CityScape Phoenix hosts Surfing on Central in Downtown Phoenix this Summer
Flowboarding, Beach Parties, Beach Blanket Movie Nights and More Take Over Downtown
Surfs up in the heart of the desert this summer as CityScape Phoenix hosts Surfing on Central, a 13-week, family-friendly event offering a wave simulator, beach blanket movie nights, professional flowboarder performances, DJs and a special summer staycation hotel package.
Open daily starting June 1 and running through Labor Day Sept. 1, CityScape’s Patriots Square park will transform into a surfer’s paradise with the FlowRider® Mobile from FlowRider, Inc., a wave simulator that creates never-ending waves with over 38,000 gallons of perfect surf, ideal for beginners and experts. With 400-square-feet of ripping ride space, surfers will hang ten in a whole new way while learning to surf, do tricks and have fun.
In addition to the FlowRider, Surfing on Central will be home to lounge chairs, a tiki bar and more. Throughout the summer, there will be “Beach Blanket Movie Nights” where guests can enjoy surf movies under the stars and on Saturday nights catch “Airwaves” from 7pm until 10pm featuring a local DJ spinning the hottest summer hits and pro-flowboarders showing off their skills. Ladies Night is every Thursday from 6pm until 10pm where ladies buy one ticket, get one free.
To kick things off, CityScape will host a flow jam on Saturday, May 31 from 7pm until 10pm with professional flowboarders Sean Silveira, Adam Muller and Daniel Tarapchak showing off their shredding skills and signing autographs along with Red Bull DJs, games, prizes and plenty of beach-themed fun.
For those looking for the ultimate summer staycation, Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix is offering a “Toes on the Nose Surfs Up!” package from $119/night that includes deluxe accommodations, two tickets to FlowRider and a 20 percent discount at LUSTRE Rooftop Garden for guests with a FlowRider ticket. Reservations can be booked at www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or 602-253-6633 (rate code: FLOW).
Located at CityScape Phoenix, Surfing on Central will be open seven days a week from 10am until 10pm from June 1 through September 1. The event is free and open to the public, with the exception of FlowRider that is available for $25 per person for 30 minutes with a maximum of eight guests per half hour. Riders can also test their skills on “The Mechanical Wave”, which is $5 for five attempts. Hours and pricing may vary throughout the summer. The most up-to-date information will be available online. Surfers must be at least 42” tall. Party packages and memberships will be available where discounts will be given for multiple sessions purchased, like the Blue Membership where riders receive two free sessions with the purchase of five sessions for $125.
Reservations are required to purchase tickets for the FlowRider. For more information about Surfing on Central and to find out how to book a reservation, visit www.cityscapephoenix.com/flowrider. Easy, convenient and ample underground parking is available and validated by many retailers.
If You Go
What: Surfing on Central
When: Sunday, June 1 to Monday, September 1
- A wave simulator ($25/session)
- Beach Blanket Movie Nights (free)
- Professional flowboarder performances weekly (free)
- “Airwaves” with local DJs every Saturday (free)
- Ladies Night every Thursday (buy 1, get 1 free)
- Special summer staycation package at Hotel Palomar Phoenix (from $119/night, including 2 tickets to FlowRider)
Photo courtesy of Red Development.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
D-BACKS TO HOST MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY ON MONDAY
The Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) will honor all military active duty, reserve, retired and veterans and will pay tribute to fallen military heroes this Monday as the D-backs host Military Appreciation Day on Memorial Day at Chase Field. The D-backs will hand out 15,000 D-backs camouflage replica jerseys, courtesy of Budweiser, to fans 21 and over.
- National Anthem: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Steven Powell
- Color Guard: Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard
- Ceremonial First Pitch 1: Luke Air Force Base Brigadier General Michael Rothstein, on behalf of Budweiser
- Ceremonial First Pitch 2: Former professional baseball player and military veteran Hank Weaver will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. The 92-year-old was signed to a baseball contract by Branch Rickey and played in the St. Louis Cardinals organization alongside Stan Musial. He was drafted into the air force and trained to be a glider pilot but was instead sent to serve in the Pacific. Weaver played on a traveling All-Star baseball team and once played against Joe Garagiola. He also entertained troops alongside Gene Autry and later served as a scout for Autry with the California Angels organization.
- MLB National Moment of Remembrance: All 30 MLB teams will observe a moment of silence prior to the national anthem to honor those who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.
- Joint Forces: One active duty member and their family from each branch of the military will stand around the infield with a flag depicting their branch of service during a special on-field pregame ceremony.
- Military Assistance Mission: The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and Sanderson Ford will present a check for $50,000 to Military Assistance Mission during a special pregame recognition. The money was raised through the D-backs’ annual golf tournament. MAM provides financial and morale aid to Arizona active duty military, their families, and wounded warriors regardless of overseas deployment status.
- Soldier’s Best Friend: The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation has funded service dogs for Arizona veterans through Soldier’s Best Friend. SBF is an Arizona non-profit that provides U.S. military veterans living with combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with Service or Therapeutic Companion Dogs, most of which are rescued from local shelters. The veteran and dog train together to build a trusting relationship that saves two lives at once and inspires countless others. The Arizona Diamondbacks will recognize 10 Arizona veterans and their service dogs during a special pregame ceremony on the field.
- Honor Flight of Arizona: The D-backs will recognize several members from Arizona Honor Flight. Honor Flight is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s WWII veterans. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation funded the most recent Honor Flight which transported veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII Memorial.
- D-backs Employee Veterans: The D-backs will recognize several employees who have served in the military during a special pregame recognition.
- FOX Sports Arizona/Arizona National Guard: FOX Sports Arizona will host 50 members of the Arizona National Guard and their families to enjoy the game.
The D-backs will wear black jerseys with camouflaged “Arizona” lettering and will sport an authentic military digital camouflage designed cap in honor of Memorial Day. The game-worn, autographed jerseys will be auctioned off beginning at 5:00PM on Memorial Day online at www.dbacks.com/auctions. The online auction will end on June 3 and proceeds will benefit military charities through the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation. The specially-designed camouflage hat and jersey with camouflaged “Arizona” lettering will be available for purchase in the Team Shop.
The D-backs’ military ticket offer for 50-percent off ticket prices is available to all military active duty, reserve, retired and veterans, as well as active and retired fire and police personnel with a valid ID. The offer is available at the Chase Field Box Office, by calling 602.514.8400 or online at www.dbacks.com/military.