"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Tempe spends $20,000+ on New Years party.

"she estimates that the city is reimbursing the downtown organization about $10,000 to put on the party and about $10,000 for the fireworks"

Tempe trims New Year’s party

By Dianna Náñez The Republic | azcentral.com Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:52 AM

The blocks-long New Year’s Eve bash in downtown Tempe has drawn national attention through the years, but this year, city leaders warn that the party will be scaled back because the city has ended its partnership with the Fiesta Bowl to co-host the celebration.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell assures Valley residents, who have made an annual tradition of ringing in the new year on Mill Avenue, that the party is still on.

Mitchell says the city was left with limited time to regroup after Tempe and the Fiesta Bowl ended their contract this fall to host the costly New Year’s Eve block party.

The scramble to ensure that Tempe was still home to a prominent celebration prompted city officials to work with Downtown Tempe Community Inc., which manages the Mill Avenue District for landowners.

Among the big changes for the celebration, this year to be known as Mill Avenue’s New Year’s Eve, is that it is free.

“It’s not a ticketed event,” Mitchell said. “We knew we weren’t going to get any major sponsors (on such short notice). It’s a good opportunity for us to look at how we handle our New Year’s Eve and … get back to our roots, if you will.”

Getting back to the origins of the popular Tempe party, which draws thousands to Mill, means allowing Valley residents to visit downtown Tempe without paying the hefty entry fee associated with the former Fiesta Bowl block party. In past years, the fee funded amenities, including fireworks, game and entertainment zones, and bands, all of which boosted Tempe’s New Year’s Eve party reputation on the national scene.

There were drawbacks. Access was limited to downtown Tempe, a popular area among Valley urbanites and out-of-town vacationers during the holiday season, and to the region’s many bars, restaurants and retail businesses.

Julian Wright, who owns three Mill Avenue restaurant/bars, said many businesses are hopeful this year’s changes will be mutually beneficial to downtown Tempe and Valley residents.

“I think everyone is unsure of what the results will be of such a drastic change,” he said. “But the biggest complaint I always got in the past was (from patrons) having to spend so much money to spend the night on Mill Avenue.”

Wright’s are among the downtown businesses hosting adult-themed parties for New Year’s. A $15 ticket purchased online in advance allows revelers to party in Canteen Modern Tequila Bar, Handlebar Tempe and Fat Tuesday, as well as access a courtyard behind the popular bar/restaurants. That fee may increase the night of the event.

But the free New Year’s Eve party outside on Mill Avenue will focus on families. Radio Disney will be on hand with free music and activities for children.

Nancy Hormann, Downtown Tempe Community president, said that getting back to Tempe’s roots meant ensuring that the big bash was not excluding families.

“We just scrambled and decided to go back to a blast from the past and go back to the roots of the party, which was a community event for families and was free,” she said. “We’ll still have two fireworks shows.”

The fireworks will launch off Tempe Butte at 9 p.m. and midnight. After 9 p.m. the family activities will wrap up so the adults can ring in the new year.

Mitchell and Hormann say that Tempe plans to regroup after the celebration. Mitchell said the city will call for feedback from Valley residents and businesses to help determine the future of the party.

“The block party got a little tired,” Hormann said. “We’re not bringing back the old block party. We know it’s going to be a different and exciting celebration. It’s always going to be the place where you go for New Year’s in Arizona is downtown Tempe.”

The cost of the party has drastically decreased.

The amendment to the city’s agreement with the Valley of the Sun Bowl Foundation, which manages the Fiesta Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, formerly the Insight Bowl, reduced Tempe’s payment due to the foundation by $100,000 this year and by another $100,000 next year.

Hormann said the costs of this year’s party will be unknown until afterward when billing is finalized. However, she estimates that the city is reimbursing the downtown organization about $10,000 to put on the party and about $10,000 for the fireworks.

Next year, the city will seek new sponsors for the celebration, Mitchell said.

Wright said he supports the sponsorship but not if it means sacrificing affordability.

“It’s all well and good to have all the bells and whistles like before, if somebody (a sponsor) is willing to pay the price tag on all the bells and whistles,” he said.

“(But) my guess is that the (downtown Tempe) bars and restaurants are going to be resistant to ever allowing another cover charge just to get back onto the street.”

More information: www.millavenue.com/entertainment-and-events/newyearseve.


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts