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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for several weeks but as city council work becomes more complex and time consuming, it leaves very little time for writing.

There were a flurry of press releases issued several weeks ago as well as discussion about the development at Tuesday’s, April 26th City Council workshop meeting. In case you missed it, here is what is happening to Crystal Lagoon.

The location of the development is at the southwest corner of 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way. It is just south of the State Farm Stadium. When the project was first announced and approved by council in June of 2020, as Crystal Lagoons Island Resort a 600-room hotel was envisioned with a lake area with white sand beaches, office, and retail space, a 100’ tall Aero Bar and a 400’ tethered balloon and a Mattel Amusement Park.

Two of the principles, Glen Bilbo, and Tommy Fisher, were involved in the project from the beginning. Tommy Fisher, a long-time resident in the Valley, has now taken over the entire project. Mr. Fisher is well respected in the development community.

Mr. Fisher and his son, Grant, reevaluated the project concept and in fact, have reimagined and upgraded it. The project is now called VAI and the VAI hotel has grown from the original concept of 600 rooms to 1200 rooms, making it the largest resort hotel in the state. I asked Mr. Fisher if their intent is to develop a 5-star hotel and he affirmed it that it is.

In essence, the office space and a substantial portion of the retail has been removed to make way for the larger hotel. There will be the main hotel and in essence, two annexes. All will look the same and offer the same level of service. There will be about 13 upscale restaurants on site as well as a “knock your socks off” wedding chapel. There will also be meeting and convention space.

The major emphasis will be on presenting live, musical events with plans for more than 100 events each year with well-known performing artists. Those who book rooms will be able to see the live concerts from the hotel where they will be performed on an island that faces the hotel. The live musical theater on the island will be able to rotate 360 degrees.

VAI Resort Hotel

One interesting feature will be a tunnel system able to accommodate service carts that will be used by employees to get from one structure to another. There will be some parking on site in the form of a parking garage for hotel visitors and overflow parking will be available on the city’s black lot on the east side of 95th Avenue.

The Aero Bar and tethered balloon concepts remain as does the Mattel Amusement Park under the management of Glen Bilbo. The Amusement Park, however, has nearly doubled in size.

All of the changes have affected the timeline for the project. The goal was to have the hotel open in time for the Super Bowl but with its expansion, the more realistic timeline has the hotel opening sometime between March and May of next year.

In summary the VAI Resort will include:

  • A 7-acre water way with sandy white beaches.
  • A 52,000-square foot man-made island.
  • A 360-degree, rotating concert stage.
  • More than 1,200 hotel rooms.
  • 170 stage-facing hotel rooms.
  • A 20,000-square foot spa and wellness center.
  • A wedding chapel.
  • A massive helium balloon that will take visitors nearly 400 feet into the air for an aerial view of the Phoenix area.
  • Aerophile’s Aerobar, a space that will offer food and drinks at 130 feet in the air, giving customers a high-up view of the Valley.
  • A 4D theater and a “fly theater,” similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” ride in Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
  • Luxury retail shops.

In essence, many of the original deck chair concepts are still there. They have just been rearranged. The original principals involved in the project are still there as well. Their areas of responsibility have been rearranged too.

Make no mistake. This is an ungraded development that will still market itself to families to attend the Mattel Amusement Park but now it has branded itself beyond that concept. The live musical entertainment 100 days a year at a 5-star resort offering unique restaurant and retail concepts has taken the development to a whole new level.

This development enhances the Westgate area as it offers yet another recreational opportunity for Glendale’s premier experiential retail site. Music, sports and entertainment…the Westgate area has it all. There is no other area in the state quite like the Westgate area.

I continue to say that this is the most impactful project not just for Glendale, the state or the southwest but internationally. International visitors will be eager to enjoy a new destination/entertainment experience that offers something for everyone. As the development’s greatest cheerleader, I am eagerly awaiting its opening as well as everyone’s reaction to this blockbuster project.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Lately media reported the reason Glendale would not be hosting NFL Super Bowl related events was that the Bidwills, the NFL and the Arizona Host Committee felt Glendale was not fulfilling its obligations with regard to the parking provision or capping Glendale’s hotel room rates. Oh really? It was all smoke and mirrors. Let’s revisit the Cardinals/Arizona Host Committee bid.

Mike Sunnicks had an article about the bid in the Phoenix Business Journal on October 12, 2011, 2 and 1/2 years ago. Here is the link: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/morning_call/2011/10/arizona-super-bowl-to-have-downtown.html  .

The story says in part, “Concentrating more Super Bowl-related events in downtown Phoenix was a key component of the winning presentation put together by the Arizona Cardinals, advertising agency E.B. Lane and the Arizona Host Committee.” It went on to say, “For the 2015 game, the Valley’s bid promoted more downtown Phoenix events. That includes the media center and media hotels.

There could also be a Super Bowl Village fan experience at the Phoenix Convention Center as well as major concerts, public and private parties, and other events hosted at CityScape, downtown hotels and other venues — possibly including theaters, Chase Field and US Airways Center.”

Rutherford, New Jersey can feel Glendale’s pain. That’s where this last Super Bowl was hosted but the media ignored Rutherford and planted themselves in New York City, a far sexier site. Nearly every advertisement and every major NFL related event for the Super Bowl was in New York City. Gosh, New York renamed a street as Super Bowl Boulevard. That is exactly the treatment Glendale got the first time around and will experience this time as well. All major advertisements and the media will tout Phoenix, not Glendale.

At the time of the latest bid clearly Glendale was already being pushed aside by the Bidwills, the NFL, the Arizona Host Committee and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA). That is why when Michael Kennedy (past President of the Host Committee and the Cardinals’ attorney) presented the bid before the Glendale City Council seeking their support he positively sneered at my request that the Host Committee support a bill that would recompense Glendale for its expenses. All of them probably rue the day they decided to build the stadium in Glendale because they sure act that way. It appears to be inconsequential to them if Glendale loses money as the host city. Their view of Glendale is as a minor player and has never been welcome at the “big boys’ table” with any sense of legitimacy.

Why the public vituperation by Michael Bidwill now? It sounds good to accuse Glendale of a lack of cooperation hosting the Super Bowl but that’s just more smoke and mirrors. The real reason is likely that the Bidwills want Glendale to build that darned parking garage…now. Is he using the Super Bowl to put pressure on Glendale? That is for you to decide and many of you may come to the conclusion…yes.  Mr. Bidwill violated the cardinal rule (no pun intended!) about airing dirty linen in public. In so doing, he may very well have damaged the Valley’s chances to host future major events.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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