Why Barrett-Jackson matters, even if you're not into cars

From the Arizona Republic
A meme spreading across Facebook proclaims “My favorite part of winter … is watching it on TV from Arizona.”
This has been a good week to watch winter from afar, as the polar vortex dropped harsh cold as far south as Mobile, Ala. The good people at the Arizona Tourism Authority were absolutely gleeful putting up a warehouse-tall advertisement showing a bikini-clad woman enjoying our state’s winter.
But it’s more than good weather. It’s the good the weather brings.
That begins Sunday, when the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction begins its annual run in Scottsdale with a trio of firsts. The auction moves into a permanent building, though it will still use the massive tent this year. It gets two hours of prime Saturday afternoon broadcast network coverage, on top of an extensive cable schedule. And it adds a bull riding event.
Credit auction owner Craig Jackson for keeping the auction fresh, giving people reason to come back year after year. Five other Valley auctions will sell fine cars throughout the week, to small audiences of strictly car enthusiasts. But you don’t have to know a Bugati from a Baracuda to enjoy Jackson’s auction. It’s an event, a celebration that attracted 300,000 people last year. With good weather, Jackson says he could hit 325,000 this year.
Some will go to see what a rare 1967 Corvette L88 sells for. (Jackson predicts between $3.5 million and $5 million.) Others will relive their childhoods getting a close look at the Hot Wheels “Snake” and “Mongoose” funny cars, being auctioned in a single lot with their haulers. (What will they sell for? Jackson shrugs. “It just takes two people,” he says.)
Still others will go for the fashion show, for the bull-riding event, for the chance to see celebrities auction cars for charity, for the expo that offers ultra sound systems, $6,000 bicycles and $2,000 cowboy boots.
The important thing is they choose to come to Arizona. Florida, Southern California, Hawaii, Costa Rica are just as pleasant this time of the year. So why come here?
To see something you cannot see anywhere else.
Jackson has expanded his auction to three other cities, and other companies stage auctions around the world. None tops the extravagance and the spectacle the Scottsdale auction offers.
The PGA hosts a golf tournament every winter weekend in a warm weather location. But no other boasts anything like the Phoenix Open’s 16th hole.
Half of Major League Baseball trains in Florida, where teams ask fans to drive three to five hours for road games. In Arizona, all the teams are less than an hour’s drive apart.
Those are powerful reasons for our frozen fellow citizens to choose Arizona for their winter escape. They fill our hotel rooms, our restaurants, our golf courses. They spend their money, keeping Arizonans employed and topping off city, county and state government treasuries. They allow us to get better services for lower taxes than we would without them.
So we’ll cheer when the bids on an Italian sportscar or American classic zips past $1 million, $2 million, $3 million.
But we’ll cheer mostly that entrepreneurs like Jackson, organizations like the Thunderbirds, and spring training’s pioneers figured out how to market a desert winter.