By Taryl O’Shea
Arabian Horse Association of Arizona producers of the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show
Scottsdale is the only U.S. city in the running to host the International Federation for Equestrian Sports World Championships in 2022.
That is not by accident.
Scottsdale has a world-class equestrian community. We have premier events such as the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Arizona Sun Circuit Quarter Horse Show and many others. They are a proud reminder of Scottsdale’s heritage.
We also have a top venue for equestrian, community and special events at WestWorld of Scottsdale. WestWorld is competing with the venues in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands. the United Arab Emirates and other countries to host the Equestrian World Championships.
WestWorld is an important tourism and economic development driver for Scottsdale. A new report by Arizona State University found WestWorld brought approximately 916,694 visitors to Scottsdale last year and generated 1,884 jobs and $111.7 million for Arizona’s economy.
But we cannot rest on our laurels.
WestWorld needs repairs, improvements and upgrades in order to keep hosting great equestrian, community and tourism driving events such as Barrett-Jackson, our event and so many others.
Questions 1, 2 and 3 on the November 5th ballot make needed infrastructure repairs and investments in all parts of Scottsdale including at WestWorld, which is at the geographic heart of our city. In many ways it is our spiritual heart too, reminding us that in some ways we can and should still be ‘The West’s Most Western Town’.
Under the plan, WestWorld’s horse barns will be repaired and renovated. Some of them are now falling down. The infrastructure investments will also upgrade the venue’s audio and lighting systems and improve street access. WestWorld’s arena will be expanded so it can host more events. Plenty of other cities would love to have the equestrian and special events Scottsdale hosts. Those cities are ready to pick up Scottsdale’s equestrian top-tier mantle if we drop the ball.
WestWorld hosts more than Barrett-Jackson’s world-famous auto auction and prominent equestrian events. The venue, which is located on federal land and is managed by the city of Scottsdale, also hosts youth sports and community events and is booked most days of the year.
The Scottsdale investments before voters will also build 13 new youth sports fields near WestWorld. Those will help ease the lengthy waiting lists and backlog for space youth sports team and leagues face trying to book fields in Scottsdale throughout the city. The new multi-use fields can also be rented for parking during special events such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Barrett-Jackson. Scottsdale voters authorized a similar plan decades ago at what is now called the Scottsdale Sports Complex. There, most every day residents can see youth sports on display. But the backlog in our city is now such that we need a lot more, new fields.
Scottsdale voters also have the chance to invest in 58 projects throughout the city that will help our quality of life, future prosperity and economic competitiveness. Many of the projects in the $319 million program will never get done at all unless voters approve Questions 1, 2 and 3 in November.
The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Pinnacle Peak Park and McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park will get needed improvements. Old Town Scottsdale will become more pedestrian friendly, get public parking and repairs will be completed at Civic Center Plaza so it can host cultural, culinary and community events. Parts of Civic Plaza have been closed with the emergency bridge repairs that closed Drinkwater Boulevard.
Scottsdale is already a wonderful place for equestrian and other special events. We just need to keep it that why by voting Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3.
Taryl O’Shea is Executive Director of the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona.