Thursday, March 5, 2009


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When the stars come out at night in metro Phoenix -- be it Britney Spears, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, or sports figures -- you can find them partying in Scottsdale, not northeast Phoenix.

For nightlife, most northeast Phoenix residents run off to Scottsdale. Very few, if any, bars in northeast Phoenix draw more than 300 people at a time. About a dozen Scottsdale bars have more than three times this number any Friday or Saturday night.

Why? Northeast Phoenix has the space. There's Joe's Grotto and, at Desert Ridge, Jillian's, the Scorch Bar and more.

Could it be the popular Scottsdale bars offer food? So do many Phoenix bars. Why do Scottsdale bars attract the beautiful people?

It is the old adage that success breeds success. Weekend nights you see couples dining at fine restaurants in either Kierland Commons or Desert Ridge, yet around 10 p.m., they cross the street to party in Scottsdale.

Economically, this is devastating to Phoenix. Figure there are usually four or more in a party imbibing at those Scottsdale bars. Estimate a modest two drinks per person at around $8 per drink. The economic impact of that single party, money lost to Phoenix, is $64.

Now multiply what that four-person group spends times 200, which is a modest Scottsdale bar crowd of 800, and it is $12,800 lost for Phoenix every weekend night at just one bar. That's a modest estimate.

Phoenix just approved $100 million in tax breaks for a parking garage in northeast Phoenix. Isn't it time the city also focus its attention on attracting Scottsdale revelers across the street to northeast Phoenix?

How? It would make sense to do what Scottsdale has not -- have bars with live entertainment and DJs instead of food.

People like Bob Corritore, who runs the Rhythm Room, one of the finest blues showcases in the world, and Joe Grotto have a decade of experience bringing live music to Phoenix. Add veteran concert mogul Danny Zelisko, and northeast Phoenix could be awash in party places. That is, if the city government throws support behind them.

It is time for the city to give tax breaks to entertainment entrepreneurs as it has to property developers and realize the positive economic impact it can bring to city coffers. Wouldn't you rather see the taxes from that $6.5 million going to Phoenix than Scottsdale?

What do you think?

Do you agree with columnist Richard Kelleher that northeast Phoenix should compete with Scottsdale for the nightclub scene?

Or would that just add to traffic, hassle and crime problems?

Or are tax incentives for bars a bad idea?

E-mail us at or write us at Letters to the Editor, Phoenix Republic, P.O. Box 2244, Phoenix, AZ 85002. You can also fax us at (602) 444-7985.