Ariz. State eyes commercial development field
By Anne Ryman, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic
In its quest for money to rebuild its aging sports arenas, Arizona State University is taking an unusual approach: trying to convert a large swath of its Tempe campus into a fees-generating commercial and residential development.
ASU has carved out a 330-acre stretch to create an urban, master-planned development that features world-class amateur athletic facilities surrounded by residential, office and retail businesses. The area is now mainly parking lots and a golf course. The businesses would pay a fee in lieu of property taxes, and ASU would use the money to fix up its athletic facilities, most notably Sun Devil Stadium.
Some skeptics question whether ASU can pull off what it now calls “the district” as envisioned. Some Tempe community leaders worry that even if that vision is achieved, it will siphon off business and atmosphere from existing developments nearby.
ASU officials say the long-term project will create synergy, rather than competition, and are quietly shopping their vision to Tempe elected officials, business owners and other community leaders. Sometime next year, ASU hopes to select a developer or developers and detail a master plan for the land. It could take a couple of years to break ground, and the whole project could take at least 20 years to fully develop. But ASU officials say their vision will become a reality.
“It’s going to happen,” said athletics director Steve Patterson.
The idea grew out of ASU’s need to fix up athletic facilities and stay competitive with other Pac-12 Conference schools, which have spent nearly $1.3 billion on stadiums since 1998. Sun Devil Stadium is 54 years old and doesn’t provide the seating or amenities that generate enough revenue.
ASU wants to renovate the stadium, and preliminary plans call for a fabric canopy that would cover the upper decks on the east and west sides and reduce temperatures by as many as 20 degrees. The shading would allow for day games earlier in the season, an important factor with the launch of the Pac-12 television network because ASU could get earlier time slots and thus more TV exposure across the country. ASU also wants to remove … [read more here]