Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano is furious over the Fiesta Bowl's last-minute endorsement of Rio Salado Crossing, the $1.8 billion boondoggle-in-waiting that Mesa voters will act on come May 18.
"It was like a punch in the stomach," Giuliano says of last week's sudden announcement by Fiesta Bowl officials that the collegiate bowl that has hosted three national championship games in Sun Devil Stadium supports Rio Salado Crossing.
"The whole thing with the Fiesta Bowl is extremely unfortunate. I was told the Fiesta Bowl was not going to be used as a political pawn in this game," Tempe's mayor says.
Fiesta Bowl officials could not be reached for comment.
Giuliano says since operating costs of the Rio Salado Crossing stadium will be covered by taxpayers--the Flash believes the correct term is "corporate socialism"--the facility can offer the Fiesta Bowl free use of the stadium. Arizona State University charges the Fiesta Bowl $200,000 to use Sun Devil Stadium.
Giuliano says Fiesta Bowl officials double-crossed Tempe after promising not to get involved in the Rio Salado Crossing debate. In exchange, Tempe promised to wait until after the election to encourage ASU to spend up to $200 million to upgrade Sun Devil Stadium.
"Fiesta Bowl officials can say whatever they want," Giuliano says. "I don't have to go to confession on this: Fiesta Bowl officials said we will not allow ourselves to be used in that way. We are not going to get pulled into this."
But pulled in they were.
"Obviously, in eight weeks something has changed, and now there is some pressure that is more important and stronger than the 28-year history we've had with the Fiesta Bowl," Giuliano says.
"It's all about money," he added.
More money for the Fiesta Bowl. And more money for the Cardinals.
The Fiesta Bowl's endorsement could mean millions more dollars for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals would pocket naming-rights revenue for the proposed stadium--estimated anywhere from $50 million to $100 million. That number would increase by $5 million to $10 million, Giuliano estimates, simply because the Fiesta Bowl would use the stadium.
Giuliano, who has kept close tabs on the Cardinals since the team arrived in 1988, says the value of the Cardinals will "double or triple" if voters approve the stadium.
National Football League teams have skyrocketed in value in recent years. The Washington Redskins, a team that enjoys strong fan support and a one-year-old, privately financed stadium, sold last month for $800 million.
"They [Cardinals] will be one of the wealthiest franchises in the league if this thing passes," Giuliano says.
The mayor says he's not concerned about the possibility of the Cardinals leaving Tempe. The team was never expected to stay more than a few years in Sun Devil Stadium. But the Fiesta Bowl is different.
"We think the collegiate game should stay in a collegiate facility," Giuliano says.
Tribune Newspapers has never hidden its overwhelming support for the Rio Salado Crossing. Last summer, the paper's publisher, Karen Wittmer, joined forces with Mesa Mayor Wayne Brown to coordinate a joint marketing strategy to promote Rio Salado Crossing.
The paper expressed unequivocal support for the project not only in its editorial pages but also in its flaccid news reporting on the merits of the stadium and convention center.
But biased reporting and editorial strongarming apparently weren't enough.
Even more shocking--especially for a paper notorious for squeezing salaries to boost profits--the Tribune donated $50,000 in advertising space to the "Yes on Rio Salado" political action committee.
While bending over big time for the Arizona Cardinals, the Tribune did not offer free advertising to opponents of the project, who have collected less than $15,000.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals and their corporate backers are approaching $1 million in promotional spending to "educate" the public as to why it should tax itself more than $1 billion over the next 25 years to build a stadium that will make the Bidwill family fabulously wealthy for decades to come.
Tribune staffers tell the Flash that Wittmer's handling of Rio Salado Crossing has ruffled newsroom feathers.
Wittmer recently issued a memo to the newsroom profusely apologizing for telling New Times she didn't read the paper's sports pages and was not familiar with the work of the Tribune writer who covers the Cardinals.
Mything the Point
The elite fact-checkers at The New Republic clearly need to have their radar screens adjusted. Those folks who allowed the journalistic disgraces of Ruth Shalit (the conservative hottie who danced with Newt Gingrich and stole the prose of everyone else) and Stephen Glass (who made up entire places, events and people in his "reporting") have missed another oopsie.
In its May 24 issue, TNR features a piece by David Grann on our very own Snowy-Haired Senator, John McCain. The Flash could mention the numerous omissions, the blatant ass-kissing, the freshman term-paper prose, but that would be gratuitous. This Strobe could also take TNR to task for failing to mention all of St. John's other shortcomings. But that would be pointless, since every other member of the liberaleastcoastmediaelite ignores them as well.
Let's just stick with Grann's breathless reportage of Attorney General Grant Woods' conviction of former governor J. Fife Symington III on "seven counts of bank and wire fraud."
Wrong level of government, actually. It was the feds who nailed the Fifester.
But thanks for playing "The McCain Dating Game" anyway, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you. . . .
Rose Colored Tactics
As part of McCain's strategy to charm the liberaleastcoastmediaelite, he strikes the pose of statesman, pretending to rise above the odorous politics of partisanship.
It works. While Humble John was staging his newest losing crusade to give President Clinton more power to press the war in the Balkans, New York Times columnist Bill Safire hailed McCain as "de facto President of the United States," while the Washington Post's curmudgeonly columnist Mary McGrory cooed that McCain is a man of "gumption and principle."
But even with such high praise, McCain's fellow Republicans aren't apt to help in his doomed bid to become commander in chief. A Washington news story reports that a lobbyist was asked whom Republicans hate more, Clinton or McCain, and he replied, "It's close."
And why not? In a Senate speech, McCain belittled fellow Republicans for being "so distrustful of the President that we feel obliged to damage the office in order to restrain the current occupant."
At one point, McCain departed from his text and ad-libbed what sounded like "warped" in his description of the state of mind of fellow GOPers.
McCain is a fine one to criticize partisanship. Among others, ask former governor Rose Mofford, who was a target of McCain dirty tricks.
Mofford was a glad-handing secretary of state when she was thrust into the governor's chair with the ouster of Evan Mecham. One of Mofford's early chores was testifying in Washington for continued funding of the Central Arizona Project, the granddaddy of all non-military public works projects that has been supported by Democrats and Republicans from the beginning.
But McCain, then an ambitious congressional newcomer, had other ideas: He planted complicated technical questions that were asked of Mofford.
McCain boasted privately at the time he was "honor-bound to embarrass" Democrats if given a chance. To media that got wind of the ploy, McCain took on the "Who, me?" soul of innocence and denied he'd ambushed Mofford.
Years later, however, McCain 'fessed up, and apologized to Mofford.
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