America’s sunniest metropolis welcomes NFL fans, marathoners, car collectors, gay cowboys and cosmetic salespeople

PHOENIX (Jan. 16, 2008) — The weekend forecast for Phoenix calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. But tourism officials here are still anticipating a perfect desert storm.

That’s because multiple mega events are converging in America’s sunniest metropolis over the weekend, among them the NFL conference championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, the Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & Half Marathon, and the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event.

Tickets to the NFC Championship Game pitting the hometown Cardinals against the visiting Eagles on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium sold out in 6 minutes, and thousands of Eagles fans are expected to make the cross-country trip from Philadelphia and other Northeastern locales. The Cardinals’ first-ever NFC Championship appearance is also expected to bring local fans out en masse to restaurants and sports bars.

Meanwhile, race officials for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon report that 37,000 participants have signed up for Sunday’s two races. The marathon is popular among distance runners for its music-filled atmosphere, warm winter conditions and qualifier status for the Boston Marathon. Race participants will tackle a fast course that snakes through the streets of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Many of them also will attend the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Health & Fitness Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event, taking place Friday through Sunday at the WestWorld exhibition grounds, is known throughout car-collector circles as “World's Greatest Classic Car Event.” It typically attracts about 300,000 car enthusiasts, who flock to Greater Phoenix to bid (or just gawk) some of the most sought-after automobiles in the country, from coach-built classics to muscle cars.

In the current tourism climate, a perfect storm of events like these is welcome news.

“It’s no secret that American vacation destinations are experiencing a downturn in visitors,” said Doug MacKenzie, Director of Communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But this is the cusp of our peak season. The weather is warming up, restaurant patios are teeming with patrons, and our destination is prepared to welcome these visitors. You only have to look outside to realize why events like the Barrett-Jackson auction and Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon want to be here in January.”

MacKenzie also pointed out that other, boutique events will have visitors energizing Phoenix’s social scene and occupying hotel rooms this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday the Gay Rodeo visits Rawhide Western Town at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass. This annual event features rodeo competitions, dancing, and live music. And Friday more than 8,000 delegates will begin flowing into the new Phoenix Convention Center for the Mary Kay Cosmetics Leadership Conference.

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