From the 2006 DMB news released linked above:
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According to Roc Arnett, president of the East Valley Partnership, "The property is a vital asset for Mesa due to its proximity to higher education, major infrastructure such as the Williams Gateway Airport and the ASU Polytechnic campus, and important transportation corridors including the Loop 202, US 60 and the planned Williams Gateway Freeway."
The Economist article also mentions the campus as being key to Mesa's grand plan for what Mesa Mayor Scott Smith called a "do-over" for the city, as is the nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
The project already lies beneath an ominous black cloud: The ruling against Phoenix's CityNorth tax deal, which is causing lawmakers to scrutinize the $85 million in tax break's Mesa wants to give DMB to help with the do-over.
But the possibility that ASU Polytechnic might close must give city boosters the willies.
Oh yeah, and there are all those students, teachers and other employees who will be S.O.L.