Empty Seats: The Pandemic Vs. A Sports Capital
A Podcast From KJZZ Original Productions
Metro Phoenix is a member of a small club of cities that are home to all four major American pro sports franchises, plus some others. The Valley also has homegrown yearly sporting events which have made our home a sports destination chosen to host mega contests like Super Bowls and international soccer matches. But just as the metro area was about to put on its yearly bonanza athletic competitions, the coronavirus shut down the entire sports industry. The games may be back now, but it’s still not safe for fans to fill the many local venues. Empty Seats is a podcast from KJZZ Original Productions about the pandemic versus a sports capital built in the Sonoran Desert.
Years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court let states legalize sports betting. And Arizona is not yet among the nearly two dozen states where it’s OK to gamble on games. Allowing online and mobile wagering would mean more revenue for all involved.
This is the offseason for every major pro sport except football. The trio not playing now have to work with health officials to figure out whether fans can safely go to games when play resumes. The answer has huge implications for Arizona.
A huge advantage to owning a business near one of metro Phoenix’s sports shrines was that you were guaranteed crowds for a certain number of days each year. Right now would normally mark the start of peak time for Westgate.
Tuesday of the week in March when COVID-19 crashed the sports industry — and started to shut down the United States — was also supposed to be a really important point in metro Phoenix’s yearly sports bonanza.
This week marks the 33rd anniversary of a sports deal that changed the future of Phoenix. The Suns were the only major pro franchise here then, and they could have left. Instead, a new Suns owner played the lead role in transforming the city into the home of teams from each of the top four sports leagues in America.
Phoenix Raceway is scheduled to host NASCAR’s Championship Weekend in early November. Four title races over three days add up to the next mega sports event here in the Valley. But the pandemic means NASCAR can’t fill all of the track’s 42,000 seats.