Much like the creatures and worlds that only come alive at night, on any given evening in Downtown Phoenix a transformation could be taking place just a few floors above you.
Atop the many parking garages that dot the downtown landscape, adventurous soccer players are sneakily transforming unused concrete rooftops into skyline fields, where the beautiful game is set against a backdrop of office lights and open sky. Last Saturday night, the group descended upon the Chase parking structure in downtown, taking advantage of an open rooftop floor.
‘Soccerbombing’ as the organizers are terming it, was born out of a simple desire to play soccer without leaving the city, and is just the latest event to come out of Small Goal Soccer, an organization created to fill the gap of adult soccer in Phoenix.
Trevor Brandel, Regional Director of Small Goal Soccer, and his friends turned a night of sake bombers and sushi into a night of soccer when they opted to explore the many empty spaces in downtown, and found the undisturbed views atop parking garages paired perfectly with a pickup game of soccer.
“The first time we went there was six of us and we played a little three-on-three soccer. We had a great time … and we thought, ‘hey let’s do this again.’”
“I went and rode my bike around at night and was looking for parking garages that had some decent light and enough space where we could set up our goals,” Brandel said.
After the first successful outing, they had an even bigger turnout with their second rooftop match in March, where the secrecy of the event and the last minute announcement of the location between friends within the organization helped to create an air of excitement. Because every outing remains a secret until the last minute, only joining the league can get you close to the next secret location.
Under the gaze of street lamps and skyscraper lights, players run between parking lines and try their best not to launch balls over the guard rail in an effort to score. Every now and then someone has to run down a level to collect the ones that got away.
Small Goal Soccer launched in 2008 by Adam Thelwell, the current National Director, who after moving to Phoenix from Manchester, England noticed a huge gap in adult soccer outlets, and sought the community aspect of the game he enjoyed back home. The organization creates a space for players of every skill level to join as all games are played in the 6v6 format rather than the traditional 11 players per side most soccer fans are used to.
“It’s a little bit faster, a lot more goals, a lot more shots. Even if you’re a real recreational soccer player you can come out, get involved, and enjoy it, whereas 11 a side … if you’re not a stronger player, you tend not to get the ball very often,” Thelwell said.
Small Goal Soccer is now active in six states, and features men’s, women’s, co-ed, and burgeoning youth squads. Thelwell and Brandel both agree that beyond the actual games, the league exists to create community among players, with organizers spearheading charity events, networking opportunities, and regular gatherings.
“We do a lot of things within the community as far as networking and charity work. We want to make sure that that’s a big piece of it … at the core of all the leagues we start,” Thelwell said.
After the league quickly sprouted teams across the valley, many out of town players approached Thelwell and Brandel about starting up a league in their own hometowns, resulting in what Thelwell describes as very organic growth across the country.
The pair is working on a national tournament for the league, where they’ll bring teams from every state they’re in together for a tournament in Las Vegas next year. In addition to surreptitious soccerbombing nights and regular charity events, the pair hopes to continue to duplicate their success with small format games, and bring the community aspect of the league to more new cities across the country.
Photos by April Atwood.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
A week ago, Kimber Lanning, Downtown Phoenix Inc. board member and Local First Arizona executive director, shared with me some interesting observations from attendees of the national BALLE Conference on Localism held in Phoenix in June. Hundreds of Localist leaders from across the U.S. visited Downtown Phoenix to talk about the best practices for building strong local economies. Here are some of the comments received from conference-goers about their stay:
- “I didn’t know much about Phoenix before this conference. I feel like I got a privileged view of so many amazing people and initiatives working to address their challenges in creative and collaborative ways. I now love this city and would love to come back.”
- “I had no idea Phoenix had such a vibrant arts district!”
- “I am an Arizona resident but don’t live in the Phoenix area. I was very impressed with how many committed, thoughtful organizations and activists are doing great work in city… The city was far more walkable than I anticipated and the [welcome] guide was very helpful.”
- “Phoenix has so much life, energy, pulse that I didn’t know about.”
- “I’ve always thought of Phoenix as a pretty rough place. I was impressed not only by the downtown but, significantly, by the passion of the folks working on local issues.”
- “I live in the East Valley of Phoenix and never come downtown. After my time at the BALLE Conference I realized I have been missing a big part of my town. Downtown Phoenix is really coming into its own. I will return.”
- “[Phoenix] is much greener than I expected!”
With those kind and positive words, I could stop right now, but there’s a lot more news and information to share about downtown:
IN THE PINK
- ASU ends on-campus psychiatric-care program
- ASU provides hope for an iconic downtown building and its residents
- UA & St. Joe’s Cancer Center comes to Downtown Phoenix
- How the UA Dignity Health cancer center almost wasn’t
- Will South Phoenix Light Rail affect your health?
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
- How transit spurred downtown growth, and could shape the whole city
- Banner to Midtown Phoenix neighbors: 3 years of construction
- Chicanos Por La Causa Pickle House incubator wins $50K SBA grant
- Condo project to take shape near Park Central Mall
- Downtown Phoenix’s growing residential boom shown in new study
- Hotel Monroe construction causes closure of Central Avenue
- New “one-stop shop” for homeless vets opens in Phoenix
- Phoenix asks for new bids for 100-year-old “Psycho” building
- Westward Ho owners get fed-backed loan for upgrades
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
- Be Coffee opens on Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix
- Breweries craft expansions after drafting state law to boost production
- Cibo is a tasty, charming gem in Downtown Phoenix
- Downtown Phoenix storefronts in detail
- 15 places to eat near ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus
- Phoenix food truck looks to spice up Food Network show
- Summer dining deals around downtown, metro Phoenix
- Ten Best Kids’ Menus in downtown, metro Phoenix
- The Bosque plant boutique opens on Roosevelt Row
- Two restaurants to open in shared space in Downtown Phoenix
- WebPT ranks on Inc. 5000 list of nation’s fastest growing companies
- Burton Barr Central Library looking for artists to feature in 2016 gallery
- Emerging designers present at downtown preview of Phoenix Fashion Week
- First Fridays August music guide for Downtown Phoenix
- Mural in Downtown Phoenix highlights plight of migrants
- Nic Wiesinger founds Rhetorical Galleries in Downtown Phoenix
- Theater in Downtown Phoenix keeps its ear to the ground
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
- A prudent college path
- ASU boasts diverse achievers in freshman class
- ASU student move-in is a welcome sight for Downtown Phoenix
- Phoenix banks on Peter Pan theory of Millennials
- Young African leaders complete civic leadership training at ASU
- Coyotes’ biggest question: Is there a future in Glendale?
- Phoenix 10K and Half Marathon celebrates 40 years
- The one guy who can keep four pro sports in the Valley
SAVE THE DATE (UPCOMING EVENTS)
- AIA Placemaking Series Panel Discussion on “Work,” Aug. 20
- Space Between Grand Opening, Aug. 21
- Get Your PHX Vote On with Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela, Aug. 22
- Roosevelt Row Artist Meet & Greet, Aug. 25
- Artist Grants Information Session & Grantwriting Workshop, Aug. 26
- Marine Week Events, Sept. 10-13
- Urban Ale Trail, Sept. 12
- Phoenix Public Market launch of Downtown Sundown, Sept. 24
Congratulations to Lindsay Kinkade who provided DPI staff with excellent strategic communication and design support in creating our new #dtphx brand. Lindsay was just appointed Design Director of ASU’s Enterprise Marketing Hub. Her job will be to lead design in the Hub to collaborate across campus in building tools to tell the story of ASU far and wide. She will also continue to teach in The Design School and advocate for all good things downtown.
No giant sign hangs over its entrance. It’s only giveaway is the inexplicable bouncer standing near the door. If you’re there after 7 p.m. or so, at least one motorcycle or scooter will have almost surely dug its kickstand into the dirt alongside the dumpster. If it weren’t for the growing knowledge that it resides in a basement whose main door opens into an alley, you wouldn’t know Valley Bar existed. But then the bouncer smiles and assures you this is the place.
You stick your face into the darkness and head down the stairs, your mood and your work and your life falling off of you with each step, and arrive at a fork in the road made of doors. Which one you choose doesn’t matter. Either way, the place unfolds into a three-piece wonderland: part music hall (with a bar), part ‘80s arcade, and part secret restaurant serving up Short Leash gourmet dogs and throwing the silhouettes of hanging metal art onto the main bar’s facade.
Now you’re in on the secret. Valley Bar is the distinctly Phoenician third place that never existed and should have all along. Food and beverage manager Grace Perry says it all: “We don’t want to be a Portland bar. We don’t want to be a New York bar. We want to be an Arizona bar. And we want to do everything we can to keep it that way.”
Co-owners Charlie Levy and Tucker Woodbury, the duo behind the already legendary Crescent Ballroom, set out to turn this place—this dark expanse of untapped potential—into far more than a music venue. Ending its former life as a storage space on the underside of an otherwise nondescript building, Levy and Tucker have morphed the 8,000 square foot joint into quite the downtown surprise.
And it’s not just the live music that keeps your feet tramping back in night after night. It’s the spoken word shows. It’s the storytelling nights. It’s the dance classes. It’s the literary meet-ups in the faux living room under the stairs. It’s the food.
Okay. It’s really the Skee-ball.
Whatever draws you in, the place certainly makes a claim on what it means to be an Arizona bar, especially in that we all really want to live underground. The exposed pipes are legit; they’re used by the entire building.
The brick walls seal you in with not a window to be found. The exits are hidden.
It doesn’t matter. It’s not a place you want to leave anyway.
This is no accident. Levy, Woodbury, and team have made the best of a place most would’ve looked right past. “You make your surroundings,” says Perry. “You don’t let your surroundings make you.”
They made their surroundings, alright. Now they’re surrounded by a crowd every time the alley door opens.
A few facts before you head over:
• The music hall holds 250 people; the place as a whole takes 300.
• Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4–6pm and all day Sunday and gives you $1-off drafts, house wine, and craft cocktails.
• If there’s no event, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a free game night with $1-off drafts.
• Games include Skee-ball, darts, board games, shuffleboard, and if you’re lucky, a round of 8-ball.
• Bonus tip: If spaces are few, park at Crescent Ballroom and walk over. It’s closer than you think (like, two blocks), and Crescent has its own lot on the backside of the building.
This Saturday, August 29, hit Valley Bar for “The Factory” — a new wave DJ night fueled by the music of your teenage years if your teenage years sped by 20-something years ago.
This is the place. Dig it.
Photos by Robert Hoekman, Jr.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO CELEBRATE THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PHOENIX ARTS AND CULTURE COMMISSION
The city of Phoenix will mark the 30th anniversary of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission with a celebration of the arts in downtown Phoenix on Oct. 3. The PHX Arts and Culture @ 30 Years Celebration, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, Herberger Theater and on Monroe Street between Second and Third Streets in downtown Phoenix. The multi-site event will feature music, dance and theater performances, talks and art making demonstrations. This event is FREE to the public.
“The arts are the living heartbeat of Phoenix, and it’s been incredible to watch and help this community grow since the creation of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission 30 years ago.” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “That is why we tripled funding for the Commission when I took office – creating a strong economy and a vibrant arts community go hand in hand.”
In addition to the contributions of the nearly 100 arts and culture organizations, the celebration will also feature downtown public art tours, food trucks and activities for people of all ages. Nominees for the fourth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards will be announced from the main stage.
PHX Arts and Culture @ 30 Years is sponsored by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Reimagine Phoenix, City of Phoenix Water Services Department, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and the Phoenix Convention Center and Venues.
The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission was established in 1985 by the mayor and city council to “protect, enhance, serve, and advocate excellence in the arts for the people of Phoenix in their City.” Over the past 30 years Phoenix has experienced an exciting proliferation of arts and culture activity. The Phoenix Public Art Program has collaborated with artists and designers to create more than 180 major public art projects throughout the city.
The expansion and creation of cultural facilities, such as the Phoenix Art Museum, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera and Black Theatre Troupe, have dramatically changed the cultural landscape of Phoenix. A 30-year investment in a community grants program has nurtured the development of non-profit arts and culture organizations, which now number over 160 within the Phoenix city limits, and supported delivery ofcultural services to Phoenix residents in the form of community outreach and arts learning programming. The non-profit arts and culture sector has become a $300 million economic driver for the city of Phoenix.
For more information on PHX Arts + Culture @ 30 Years Celebration and a full list of participants, please visit phoenix.gov/arts or call (602) 262-4637. Please follow the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram #PHXArts30.
Images courtesy of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
SPILLERS’ ORIGINAL SHORT FICTION READINGS TO DEBUT AT THE CRESCENT BALLROOM
Six Local Writers Perform Their Best Original Short Fiction on August 24th at 8pm
On Monday, August 24th at the Crescent Ballroom, local writers take to the stage to “spill” their best original stories for fans of short fiction. Writers were selected based on both the quality of their writing—with an emphasis on edgy, provocative, and funny stories—as well as their ability to engage a crowd.
The brainchild of two Phoenix-based writers, Brian Dunn and Robert Hoekman Jr (both of whom will debut stories at the event), Spillers gives audience members a chance to hear the best local fiction while letting writers connect with readers on a more personal level.
“Getting spontaneous, in-the-moment feedback is a thrill and invaluable for dialing in a piece,” said Dunn, whose humor writing appears on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and elsewhere. Hoekman, a freelance writer and columnist for the motorcycle culture and lifestyle magazine Iron & Air added, “Usually, writers and readers aren’t in the same room together, so it’s nice to switch things up and make fiction an interactive experience.”
Admission to Spillers is free. Attendees must be 21 years or older. The “spilling” starts at 8pm and is expected to run until 9:15pm.
Interested in becoming a future spiller? Apply at www.spillers.net.