Glendale Arena New Home Of Prep Championships

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An aggressive Glendale plan has earned the city the right to host three state high school championships, and possibly more.

According to Arizona Interscholastic Association assistant executive director Chuck Schmidt, the association plans to eventually host all high school state sports championships in one location.

"We want to bring everyone to the same arena and create an AIA community awareness that is fan-friendly," he said. "We want the whole state to be involved."

The five-year agreement between Glendale and the AIA is expected to be signed next week. The pact would move the basketball, wrestling and spirit competitions to the Glendale Arena in 2005. The trio of AIA state high school championship events will be called "February Frenzy."

Schmidt said the move to Glendale Arena is advantageous to Payson sports fans. They'll have the convenience of one location, free parking, and when Glendale Arena's entertainment complex, Westgate Plaza, is completed in 2006, fans will have a myriad restaurants, hotels and shops nearby Schmidt said.

Payson High School assistant wrestling coach Don Heizer said he is excited about moving the state championships from Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the championships have been played since 1999.

"It will be a better venue for the spectators and that will be healthy for the sport," he said.

In the past, Veterans Memorial Coliseum's -- former home of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team -- ice rink caused problems for the wrestlers during competitions.

"Those mats got pretty firm and they were cold," Heizer said.

This year is different. Although the Coyotes, since December of 2003, have made Glendale Arena their home rink, frozen mats won't be an issue.

"We won't have to worry about that this year. The NHL is locked out," said Heizer.

February Frenzy begins Feb. 4, 2005 with the AIA Spiritline State Championships. Next, wrestlers grapple for the state title from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12, and the AIA 5A State Basketball Championships conclude March 5.

The AIA said the event is expected to bring 60,000 sports fans to Glendale and generate about $200,000 in sales tax revenues.

Parking for the event is free, and according to the AIA, fans will pay a $6 or $8 entrance fee, up from $5.

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