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Let’s Be More Artful At Scottsdale’s WestWorld, Not Artraegous

One of the finest baseball stadiums in the country is AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Outside of an entrance sits an impressive statue of Willie Mays, the greatest Giant and player of all time.

Cameras click as the sense of arrival is profound.

Unknown is how this particular piece of art came to be. What is known is that someone had the obvious common sense not to put it in the field of play, interfering with the game and stadium that justified the statue in the first place.

While they mostly come to Scottsdale during spring training perhaps we can import some of that planning sanity now as it relates to goings on at WestWorld.Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

Over the past few years city leaders and WestWorld management have done a remarkable job enriching the community’s central park as an equestrian and special event playground. That foresight and the investments that have accompanied it deserve much credit.

Besides its goal of attracting new events to WestWorld, the most stated reason for expending tens of millions there was to retain two of Scottsdale’s signature events: Barrett-Jackson’s Collector Car Auction and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. Indeed, they are helping to pay for the debt service required for the expenditures.

So why in the world, as outlined at a recent City Council WestWorld subcommittee meeting, would Scottsdale Public Art propose and at least one city staffer support putting a new $400,000 statue in the middle of these event operations?

Millions get spent to better host Barrett-Jackson, the Arabians and other events in the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center and now we want to impede them? With a piece of public art that while nice is hardly as important as ensuring event success at WestWorld so taxpayers can recoup their investment? To hear the discussion was to be reminded of the phrase tail wagging the dog.

Scottsdale Public Art is part of what makes Scottsdale distinct. But it cannot be allowed to operate as an extra-governmental actor superseding the wishes of the electeds. At least Councilman Dennis Robbins got it.

When challenged why this absurdity was taking place the city official actually defending the indefensible fell back on the oldest bureaucratic trick in the book. He said it will cost $250,000 to move it to a higher profile position preferred by everyone from Barrett-Jackson, WestWorld management, the Arabians and others. Really? About the same cost as the sculpture itself?

We began with an observation about the San Francisco Giants and Willie Mays. But the conclusion involves two closer to home. At the Waterfront sit two notable pieces of public art. But how much sense would it have made to place them in Olive & Ivy and PF Chang’s itself? Zero, of course. Restaurant operations would have been made impossible or more difficult. Just as now disruptively dropping art into the middle of two of Scottsdale’s biggest generators of tourism would, especially when more sensible locations exist. Let’s have the commons sense that has guided Scottsdale Public Art at the Waterfront and elsewhere make an appearance at WestWorld so we can have a win-win.

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