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February 21, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Finally Friday

  |   Video
  • The Tempe Center for the Arts will open its lounge every Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in February and March for “Finally Friday.” It’s a time where people can relax, listen to performances and gaze at the art in the Gallery at TCA. Don Fassinger, Tempe’s Cultural Facilities manager, Outlines the details. Richard Ruelas hosts.
  • Don Fassinger - Cultural Facilities Manager, Tempe
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, artbeat, friday, ,

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Richard Ruelas: In tonight's Arizona art beat segment, we tell you about a new way to kick off the weekend this month and next in Tempe. The Tempe center for the arts will open its lounge every Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in February and March for Finally Friday. It's a time where people can relax, listen to performances, and gaze at the arts in the gallery at TCA. I'll talk to a Tempe official about Finally Friday, but first here's a look at what you can expect on Finally Friday from videographer Scott Olson.

SOT: Scott Olson

Richard Ruelas: Here now to talk about Finally Friday is Don Fassinger, Tempe's cultural facilities manager.

Don Fassinger: Thank you, Richard.

Richard Ruelas: We were just talking as we were watching the video. You have been with Tempe essentially as long as that building has. You have seen this building come up from the ground up.

Don Fassinger: I have actually started with the city of Tempe right around the napkin sketch stage is what I like to say. Hired by the city about two weeks after the architecture team was hired. I have had the opportunity to see the development, the construction, the development and the operation of the building.

Richard Ruelas: Tell us about this event which will give you time to go both here after your Cactus League game and then to the ASU sustains fire.

Don Fassinger: Absolutely.

Richard Ruelas: What is this events geared toward?

Don Fassinger: Our Finally Friday events is to bring more people to expose the Tempe center for the arts to more people. And to offer them a great time with a visit to the art gallery, some live music during a happy hour event. And to just introduce as I said more people to the TCA, and welcome those folks who already know the TCA.

Richard Ruelas: Is it an amenity that you think a lot of people in the east valley know about or take advantage of? Is that why you think it needs to exposure? Or is it just another venue to have open and celebrated?

Don Fassinger: Well, we recently started a relationship with a new concessionaire, and that concessionaire is very excited about our partnership, and we're both very excited about planning things and inventing things, full, to get more people into the space. But the space is beautiful. The location is gorgeous. And it's just a great place to be.

Richard Ruelas: So essentially there's going to be new, good grub. You want people to know about it.

Richard Ruelas: There’s going to be new good grub. Tell us about the new restaurant. Because there hasn't been a cafe open there for a little while. Right?

Don Fassinger: It's not really a restaurant. What we are doing is offering free appetizers during the 5:00 to 7:00 period each Friday night between now and the end of March. And the Finally Friday also, as I said, earlier, it features live music. Right now we are featuring music by local singer songwriter A.J. AUGNEAL and Justin Olson and both folks who have come through our open mic program and our songwriter showcase program which is actually televised on KAET.

Richard Ruelas: Since you were there for the napkin stage, let's talk about the building itself which is striking, as you are coming over light rail or the 202 and the bridge or flying over it. What was the philosophy behind making the building look as it does?

Don Fassinger: The architecture team, the basic concept of the building is a village of buildings within another building. Based on a village plan, essentially. Our lobby serves as the town square, if you will. And each one of the buildings inside, between each one right buildings inside the overall outer building structure are roadways or streets, if you will, that separate those buildings, allow access for performers and audience members and so on.

Richard Ruelas: And then from the outside, the exterior, the sharp angle, what was the philosophy of just making it an inviting building? A striking building?

Don Fassinger: That's an interesting question. Because john Kane from arc tech town who was the lead on the roof design, I have grilled John several, several times and he keeps all of these things secret. But I think there are many, many different inspirations that John had. One is the mountainous nature of our local terrain. Another is the potential of a stealth fighter. A little secret I give people is as you are traveling south on priest, just before you cross the Salt River bed, if you look to the east, you will see the TCA and Hayden butte and they are almost identical silhouettes.

Richard Ruelas: Oh! So a little piece of artwork if you look to your left quickly. Is the center doing OK as far as visitation, events, how is it sustaining itself?

Don Fassinger: Oh, very well. We do more than 600 events a year, counting rehearsals and performances and meetings. We are right now jumping into our jazz month at TCA. This Saturday night, as a matter of fact, we are teaming together with lake shore music and the city of Tempe, presenting billy child's jazz orchestra, Saturday night at the center. On March 9th. We will see Karen Allison and the Scottsdale community college jazz orchestra. And March 19th, we are welcoming the Brubeck brothers quartet to the center. We wrap it you will up at the end of March with the quartet, young trumpet player.

Richard Ruelas: Local talent if you feel you have a voice or a musical talent. Open mic Wednesdays.

Don Fassinger: Walk-in Wednesdays. We just crossed our fourth year with walk-in Wednesdays. We do it every Wednesday night. And right now we are averaging 22 to 25 singer-songwriters each Wednesday night, from 6:00 to 10:00. So it's a great evening. Free entertainment. Come on down.

Richard Ruelas: We will see you tomorrow, Don. Thanks for joins. And we will see you tomorrow night on "Horizon."

ASU Engineering Festival

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation is hosting a Science & Engineering Festival on February 22, with a day full of activities that will celebrate the power of the Science and Engineering field. This event is being held in collaboration with the 2013 Arizona SciTech Festival. Richard Ruelas hosts.
Category: Science   |   Keywords: ASU, engineering, festival, science, technology, ,

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Richard Ruelas: Arizona State University's college of technology and innovation is hosting a science and engineering festival tomorrow. It will be a day full of activities to celebrate the power of science and engineering. The event is being held in collaboration with the 2013 Arizona sci-tech festival. Here to tell us more is Chell Roberts, executive Dean of the college of technology and innovation. Thanks for joining us tonight. What can we expect tomorrow?

Chell Roberts: A very exciting day, Richard. We have, from 5:00 to 8:00, we are going to have exhibits. We are going to have food trucks. We are going to have hands-on activities for the community. We are a college of makers. That's what we do is produce makers and we are tapping into the maker movement. Where we have fabrication equipment that has come down to a technology level where the community can engage with that equipment to make and prototype and build things.

Richard Ruelas: Fabrication equipment, I guess the new hot thing is 3D printers. But you are trying to get people not to see science as an out there phenomenon but something they can try to get excited?

Chell Roberts: Something they do and something they engage in. We will have exhibits and hands on participation activities like build and launch a rocket. They will be building solar and wind-powered cars. We have a build a bridge and see how much weight you can put on it. We also have entertainers coming so we will have a D.J. that's going to produce geek rock. That sounds kind of fun. We also have a famous author, Michael Hirsch will be presenting his unusual creatures project. We see some of the most bizarre animals in the world and at the same time, he produces and performs songs that are inspired by these creatures on some very odd musical instruments.

Richard Ruelas: What age range are you aiming for? We are talking like you are trying to get middle school and high school kids interested?

Chell Roberts: Certainly that's important from the science and technology standpoint is getting more students interested in science and technology. We think that's important. But this festival is open to the community. So it's all ages, all the way from very, very young to like our age.

Richard Ruelas: Five to 8:00, no charge, I'm guess.

Chell Roberts: No charge, no charge coming and enjoy.

Richard Ruelas: How are we doing in the making department in the United States? How vital is it that we produce young people who are interested in making things?

Chell Roberts: Well, making is a hook for people. They really enjoy doing that. It's important because we are look at competition around the world where a large percent of the gross national product of other countries is being put into science education. Perhaps more than here. So we want more students to engage in science and technology from an economic standpoint, just for us.

Richard Ruelas: I guess we think of science and technology in the abstract, the chalk board filled with equations and numbers. Do you find that is daunting for many students as a barrier?

Chell Roberts: It is. We have created a number of pathways in science and technology. So it's not just equations. That's how I learned when I went to school but actually, creating and making things. So we learn how to produce, to create new economies to make products. Requires different types of mathematics. So many different pathways, many different entry points.

Richard Ruelas: How did we get, I guess we know that these hands-on exhibits, these hands-on experiments get children excited, students excited about figuring out how to transfer the ability to make something into the equations and vice versa.

Chell Roberts: They certainly do. We find that when people get the opportunity to try to contextualize their knowledge and do something to make an impact, to make a difference, whether it's in the environment, whether it is with a new product, whether it's with health care solutions, a broad variety of ways people can engage. And I think when people find the opportunity to make real impact and do something they get really excited. We have students that leave the campus starting their own enterprises, their own companies because they see this exciting opportunity where they would never think they would do this in the beginning. They thought they were going to go on some other career.

Richard Ruelas: Wait. You are saying there's a chance to make people want to learn?

Chell Roberts: Oh.

Richard Ruelas: Want to learn and make learning fun?

Chell Roberts: I think that's really the important part of learning, getting people engaged so they do something with their knowledge. It's not passive learning. It's very engaged learning get your hands dirty, make, create, build, invent, explore.

Richard Ruelas: And eventually you have to get to a chalk board and make some equations.

Chell Roberts: Yes. There have to be some equations. You have to learn to some theoretical principles but like I say a different blend.

Richard Ruelas: And I guess try to bring the United States back into, or continue its status in the innovation world.

Chell Roberts: Yes. We are leaders in innovation. A lot of countries want to copy us because we are leaders and they are trying very, very hard to do that. That's why it's very important we maintain our competitive first-place position.

Richard Ruelas: Excellent. And there will be food and there will be games and music.

Chell Roberts: Definitely. Entertainment, food, food trucks.

Richard Ruelas: But not a chalk Boulder in sight.

Chell Roberts: It would be hard to find one.

Richard Ruelas: Chell Roberts, we will see you out there tomorrow. We will pack viewers days in tomorrow.

Chell Roberts: Thank you, Richard. Appreciate it.

Cactus League

  |   Video
  • Every year, the Cactus League allows Arizona residents to get a close-up view of their favorite baseball stars and pumps millions of dollars into the economy from visitors who come to see the teams play. Cactus League President Mark Coronado will tell us more about the Cactus League, which gets underway this week.
  • Mark Coronado - President, Cactus League
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: sports, cactus league, baseball, ,

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Richard Ruelas: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Richard Ruelas of the "Arizona Republic" in for Ted Simons. For decades now, Major League Baseball teams have been taking advantage of Arizona's beautiful spring-time weather to get their clubs ready for the season. 15 teams make up the Cactus League, and spring training gives Arizonans and visitors from around the world a chance to see their favorite MLB stars up close. The Cactus League also pumps over $600 million into the state's economy. Games start tomorrow. Here to talk about it all is Mark Coronado, president of the Cactus League. Thanks for joining us.

Mark Coronado: Thanks for having me, Richard.

Richard Ruelas: You have a busy day tomorrow. Where will you start your day tomorrow?

Mark Coronado: I will be at Surprise, Arizona, watching the rangers and Royals take on opening day.

Richard Ruelas: Wonderful. How many visitors do we get and where do they come from?

Mark Coronado: Great question. Last year, we set attendance records. We attracted over 1.7 million fans from throughout the nation, and from all over the world. The interesting part of the 1.7, people ask what does that mean? I say what it means is that the survey that is we recently released, economic impact surveys, showed us that of that 1.7, over 60% came from out of state. When you ask the question, why did you come do the cactus, to Arizona, the answer was simply, 70% were saying, we came specifically for baseball. Secondly, we came to shop. Third, we came to go to your resorts and fine hotels and dine, and play golf, and actually visit the Grand Canyon and Sedona.

Richard Ruelas: Is it team-specific? You know, we obviously know Cubs fans travel well. Do people come for baseball or do they come for specific teams?

Mark Coronado: We are starting to see a combination of really the fans are staying an average of five days during their trip. And during that five days, you are starting to see the survey say, yes, they will come and see their favorite team, let's just say the Chicago Cubs. But they also want to plan that trip so the Cubs are playing the Giants. That's an important piece for them. So you note Cubs are a priority for that fan from Chicago or the Midwest but the other teams play a great impact in that number.

Richard Ruelas: But we have seen some new teams come into Phoenix rather than Florida and the grapefruit league, the big one being the Dodgers. How big an impact did that have on the Cactus League?

Mark Coronado: Tremendous impact. Great credibility. The proximity of Los Angeles obviously to the Phoenix metro market is a perfect fit. Everybody asked what are they doing way out in Florida? When the city of Glendale was able to connect and get that deal done it was certainly a big win for the Cactus League and we are very excited about that.

Richard Ruelas: Have we seen tourists, have you seen surveys of tourists who used to go to Florida and do you see things they like about the Phoenix experience over the grapefruit league experience?

Mark Coronado: That question has been asked. The accessibility of the airports. It's a lot easier. The Rockies are a great example. When you poll their fans, their fans will tell you that it's a lot easier to get a flight from Denver to Phoenix than it is Denver to Tucson. The Rockies have been a pleasant surprise in the Cactus League. Historically they were at the bottom third of our attendance figures when they were in Tucson. Now they are in the great facility which recently named by USA Today the number one facility in the Cactus League talkingstick, the Rockies are in the top third. This is my 21st year in the league, and the Rockies are certainly a big hit and it really has added to that 1.7 million figure.

Richard Ruelas: So it's not only the airport convenience but not only do you get to just see the Rockies, but you have the ability to travel around Phoenix and see a bunch of teams in a few days?

Mark Coronado: When you talk to the baseball fans who have visited both the grapefruit league and the Cactus League and we do ask that question, it's the proximity of the fields. No field is, no facility is less than probably 45 minutes away. We had a Cactus League lunch on Tuesday here in surprise. And George Brett gave a little speech about when, it was announced by the royals, 12, 13 years our go he was moving to Arizona he was totally against it. And he was telling a crowd of about 400, now that I am in Arizona, I don't -- I don't know why anybody wouldn't want to be in Arizona. He said number one reason is not just the weather. It's the proximity. He said our average trip in a grapefruit league was 2.5 hours. I mean, a full day's trip back and forth from a facility is probably an hour. So proximity plays a great, great part and that also complements the opportunity to stay in the Glendale area, you have four facilities to visit.

Richard Ruelas: I guess that's the other thing sort of as a local amenity that maybe we don't think about that much. That for those few weeks, a bunch of baseball hall of famers are in town, George Brett, Bob Euker, Ichiro. The names that have been through here. It's pretty good history of baseball.

Mark Coronado: And that's really the, that's really what I call that special niche of the Cactus League. Those individuals, those players, those hall of famers, those future hall of famers like we have Greg Maddux with the rangers at this point. They are so up close and personal. About 10:00 in the morning, there's more to it than just the ballgame. The teams go out, especially with these two team facilities. The teams are having to travel less so they practice more in the morning which is great for baseball. And those players and those coaches and those hall of famers have access to the fan and the fan has access to the players. So it's a lot easier for the fans to get connected and feel like they are part of the event.

Richard Ruelas: Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this. But for most fans it's not even the game that really is the score really is the least important part of it. I don't know whether I should be letting you in on those fan secrets. You had an OP-Ed in the "Arizona Republic" that raised some alarm bells about maybe the funding of the Cactus League and some danger of us losing some of these teams based on the funding mechanism. How right teams funded and why should we be worried about the future of this league?

Mark Coronado: Well, I don't think that we are really at risk right now to lose a team. And I don't hear that kinds of conversation. But we should take heed on the history of what the grapefruit did do. The Arizona state tourism authority, they do a tremendous job. If you are familiar with the proposition 302 that was passed in early 2000, that generated money for the cardinal facility but it also generated money for future renovation and new facilities for the Cactus League. It's driven by a car rental tax. When the recession hit in 2008, obviously tourism will tell you tourism declined. That bucket has not proven to be sufficient. It's just the economic times. But what the culture and the Cactus League and Major League Baseball has changed. Where in the early '90s and late '80s we would negotiate contract, 20-year contracts and talk about negotiating and talking about renovation in year 20. Well, baseball technology has changed. The clubhouses are being utilized more than, more often than they used to be. It's not simply a place for the player to check in, get dressed and go out to the field. They have hydrotherapy. They have cardio equipment. They have hydrotherapy pools. They have video rooms for teaching. And for evaluation. They have basically theaters so they can have meetings. I mean the clubhouses --

Richard Ruelas: As They have seen other new facilities and visitors center of the other facilities, they get a little jealous of having to go to their 20-year-old stadium?

Mark Coronado: They are always trying to keep up with the Joneses. It's all about getting to the World Series. If your training facilities are inadequate they feel someone else has a an edge. When we built surprise in 2003 our clubhouse was 32,000 square feet, the largest in the Cactus League. You can't find one less than 60, 70,000 square foot. Therapy pools, et cetera, et cetera.

Richard Ruelas: So what has to happen if the rental car tax isn't going to be enough to sustain this? Where do you think money should come from? And how difficult it will be to get that money?

Mark Coronado: I think it will be difficult. And I think we need to take like I said heed from that experience that the grapefruit league had to go through. You know, ASTA sunsets in 2030.

Richard Ruelas: Stadium and tourism north.

Mark Coronado: That doesn't mean it can't come back and won't be extended but the reality is I think if we all as operators talked, and we do talk, the teams are asking for these renovations every five to 10 years. We don't want to wait, getting the Legislature and a Governor's office to embrace legislation that possibly creates another, another funding source, that takes time.

Richard Ruelas: A different source than cars are car rentals.

Mark Coronado: All to be evaluated. It's really a concept but when you are talking about a $632 million impact, annually, $422 million of that in the month of March, the Cactus League is no longer popcorn, peanuts and beer, it's a corporate entity. We are a corporation. And I keep on trumping the horn that we are a corporate entity riding up to that top of that mountain of prosperity. I have to believe the Legislature and the Governor, if they knew they were losing a $630 million industry, there would be a sense of, hey, let's talk about this. The Cactus League is now becoming more corporate and more politically engaged because that's a future of our league.

Richard Ruelas: And you would think, can we just raise the ticket prices? Can we charge more for parking? Can the teams pull money from payroll and pay for facilities that they think will help them win the title?

Mark Coronado: Well, that's the balance. And I think the teams are willing to talk to us about revenue splits and opportunities to raise revenue at a facility. And actually, it's that old adage have the tourist pay for the experience he is coming to town to experience. Those are all part of the equation. But the, it goes beyond the Cactus League and spring training. These facilities are used 12 months of the year, not only by Major League Baseball, communities, youth programs, that bring also in economic impact. So you know, these facilities are just more than that. Cactus League, 12, 13-week season, it really is a 12 month industry.

Richard Ruelas: Do you think you will have more luck with cities than the Legislature? Do cities have a way to take care of this?

Mark Coronado: You know, these economic times, it's pretty tough. Most of our cities are laying off people, our municipalities are having to furlough, many of the municipalities having haven't give their employees raises. Made the capital projects, came to a halt. You know, our goal is this, in the Arizona office of tourism and the Arizona Commerce Authority are partners and we all are in the same page. We are a tourist destination. We are a tourism piece of our great fabric of the state. And we believe that if we are valued and we believe that people understand the impact but we need to explore other opportunities so we can complement what they are doing and carry it further.

Richard Ruelas: Before I let you go, World Series prediction for this year?

Mark Coronado: Oh. of course, I can tell you, I am the parks and rec direct inner surprise so I have to tell you this. It has to be Royals or rangers at least on one side of the ticket. OK?

Richard Ruelas: Have a good season. Mark Coronado, thanks for joining us.

Mark Coronado: Hope to see you at the ballpark. Thank you, sir.