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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
A Hot Time in Phoenix!

Helen Willard
Stage Expo Sales Manager

Traveling to Phoenix in May for the annual programming meeting, the Conference Committee received an extremely warm welcome, with temperatures over 100 degrees, accompanied by a hot wind that brought to mind time spent in saunas. It was hard to believe people actually were choosing to eat lunch on an outside patio at the Hyatt Regency, until we stepped out into the gently cooling shower provided by the overhead misters and fans. Thankfully the average March temperatures in Phoenix are a much more comfortable 75 degrees.

The tour of the Phoenix Convention Center space, where the 2007 Conference & Stage Expo will be held, coincided with the Medical Library Association's annual meeting. It was quite interesting to check out their logos, registration area set-up, directional signage, show entranceways, and trade show. Their badges looked just like USITT's (they use the same registration company) causing unconscious glances looking for recognizable people and names. We did find at least one exhibitor in common, Elsevier/Focal Press, although their presence at MLA 2006 was much larger than at USITT.

One entire day was spent in the Cassidy room at the Hyatt going through the plethora of program proposals one by one and assigning each session to a meeting room at a specific time. The group adjourned for a quick lunch at Majerle's, a restaurant just down the block from the Hyatt, which may become the Phoenix version of Deke's, the nearly everyday venue for lunch in Louisville. The afternoon programming session concluded with a review of the many Professional Development Workshops being planned for next year.

That evening, some folks had tickets to the Diamondbacks/Pirates baseball game at nearby Chase Field, but no one was lucky enough to score tickets to the Suns/Clippers basketball game. It was easy enough to tell who won game seven of the playoff series when the Suns fans spilled out of the US Airways Center, cheering, shouting and honking their horns.

A favorite Long Beach hang-out, the Yard House, has opened outposts in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Although the ambience is a bit different with no harbor marina to overlook, the Scottsdale location in trendy Fashion Square is a handsome restaurant, just a 15 to 20 minute ride from downtown Phoenix. The same menu and similar extensive beer selection made it feel almost like the original.

Another interesting Scottsdale find was the Salt Cellar, an underground restaurant whose only noticeable landmark from the street is a sign and a skylight poking out of the parking lot. The aptly named Salt Cellar is a maze of underground rooms, each wood-trimmed and filled with enough nautical paraphernalia to make you think you're below decks on an old ship. The menu included fresh seafood flown in from around the globe, a welcome treat in the middle of the desert.

There will be more Phoenix area hot spots to check out during future conference planning visits to the Valley of the Sun. For more information about the Phoenix area, visit the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau website at

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The Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, headquarters hotel for the 2007 USITT Conference & Stage Expo is filled with interesting art, including the flying performers, above, in the hotel atrium.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas