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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Valley of the Sun
Offers Many Wonders

Jeff Brown
Phoenix Conference Promotions Coordinator

David Rodger's articles about Louisville in Sightlines over the past year have highlighted many features of that city. Looking forward, there are many points of interest unique to the Phoenix metro area that those going to the 2007 Conference & Stage Expo might enjoy if they have time.

Let's start with Phoenix's most famous attributes -- the landscape and the weather. Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert. It is nestled in a valley and surrounded by rugged mountain ranges. The Sonoran Desert is the only region in the world where the saguaro cacti naturally grow. It is not hard to figure out why Phoenix is called the Valley of the Sun, when even in March the average daily high is 75 degrees, with 85 percent sunshine and only one inch of rain for the month. The spring months are a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoor pleasures of the region.

One breathtaking way to get acquainted with the offerings of the desert is to tour the Desert Botanical Gardens ( The gardens are located in northern Phoenix, 8.5 miles from the Phoenix Convention Center (site of the 2007 conference). The Desert Botanical Gardens boasts 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits featuring hundreds of types of cacti from around the world. It is also home to 139 rare, threatened, or endangered plant species from around the world. The gardens are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily with an admission price of $10.

Phoenix and the southwest region also have a rich tradition of arts and culture. The native peoples of the Southwest are celebrated at the Heard Museum (, which has one of the most outstanding collections of Native American artwork in the country. The museum houses collections from indigenous cultures throughout the world but focuses on the native people of the Southwest. The collections range from historic artifacts to contemporary fine art. The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students. The Heard Museum is less than two miles from the Phoenix Convention Center.

For the sports fan, one exciting event that takes place in the Phoenix area each March is Major League Baseball's spring training. The greater Phoenix area and Tucson, Arizona are home to the Cactus League, which consists of the Anaheim Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. Each of the teams involved in the Cactus League plays a game nearly every day in March. Tickets range in price from $5 to $25.

Of course another great attraction in Phoenix during the "winter" season is golf, golf, and more golf. The Phoenix area is home to 200-plus golf courses. Arizona prides itself on maintaining some of the finest courses in the nation. Book an early tee time and then head to the USITT conference for an informative day of sessions and the Stage Expo.

This is just a sampling of the unique local opportunities that can enhance your 2007 conference experience. Start planning next year's trip now and watch this space for more ideas for making the most out of your journey to the Valley of the Sun!

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Phoenix has a distinctive skyline that will soon become familiar to USITT members.

Photo/Courtesy Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau