With the ink still drying on a recently renewed three-year contract between the Arizona Cardinals and Northern Arizona University (NAU) to host the team’s annual training camp, many Flagstaff hotels, restaurants and businesses are prepping for the red, white and black clad fans.
Although training camp didn’t officially begin until Friday, July 30, many local hotels and businesses are projecting optimism when it comes to the number of visitors Flagstaff will see and the positive impact these visiting fans will have on the local economy.
“I expect it to be as big as last year’s camp, where people came in droves,” said Martin Zanzucchi, owner of Granny’s Closet restaurant. “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be as big as last year – the gas prices are lower, it’s still 115 in Phoenix and all of that plays for really a good preseason camp in Flagstaff.”
Zanzucchi says last summer, his restaurant’s business was up 25 percent after the Cardinals came to town and he projects this year’s numbers to be equal to, or better than, last year’s. Flagstaff’s Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with several hotels in Flagstaff to offer a new promotion, “Kick Return to Flagstaff,” to this year’s tourists staying in town during the Cardinals training camp dates (July 30- August 21). The promotion applies to those guests who book two consecutive nights at any one of the participating locations.
“The ‘Kick Return to Flagstaff,’ is to pro- mote a return visit to Flagstaff during our off season,” said Fred Reese, general manager of Little America Hotel. “The discounts vary depending on the hotel and are good from Nov. 1, 2010-Feb. 28, 2011. Currently, we [Little America Hotel] are offering a 30 percent off discount on our guest room rate on a return visit that occurs over the specific promotion dates.”
Reese says once the official Cardinals training camp schedule was announced, Little America Hotel saw an instant increase in reservations over those dates. “Cardinals camp has had a positive impact on our hotel,” said Reese. “We are already sold out over the weekend of July 30, which is when camp opens and the Red and White game will be held. I attribute this sell out to a lot of fans coming to Flagstaff for the Camp.”
While overnight bookings may come slower to other hotels participating in the Kick Return promotion, the general outlook remains hopeful that business will pick up as camp draws nearer.
“The situation in years past was we had people booked two weeks before camp started, maybe 10 days before,” said Mark Price, general manager of the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. “What we are seeing now is everyone is booking last minute, so at this point we aren’t showing a lot of movement on training camp dates, but we will. They [the Cardinals] will definitely have an impact on our hotel – no doubt about it.”
In addition, the Cardinals will hold two night practices at Coconino High School. These scheduled practices offer fans a chance to visit the east side of town, which in turn may lead to dollars spent at east side restaurants and businesses.
“We are giving the fans a reason to go to east Flagstaff,” said Zanzucchi. “There are a lot of fine restaurants on that side of town, La Fonda, Salsa Brava, Brandy’s, and countless others. It’s a chance for visitors to try all those places out.”