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Mesa marketing itself to cold weather cities

PHOENIX -- With MLB spring training right around the corner, one Valley city is marketing itself to people who are dealing with the cold, snow and ice back east.

There are great deals for people who are coming from out of town to visit Mesa, Ariz. Starting Feb. 25, Southwest Airlines will offer a special deal -- one which is being advertised in cold weather cities and features special offers in the east Valley city.

The package deal offers discounts on Mesa hotel rates. The amount that travelers can save depends on which hotel they decide to stay in.

"The deal is targeted to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Minneapolis," said Michelle Streeter, a spokeswoman for the group Visit Mesa. "Those are all of our growth markets."

Similar discounts were offered through Allegiant Airlines and US Airways last month. Streeter said they were a huge success.

"Our room rate production was up over 153 percent over last year at this time," she said.

Meanwhile, Mesa has a digital marketing campaign that is targeting six states and Canada. Streeter said the city is aggressively getting out the message that people can trade their coats and snow shovels back home for plenty of sunshine and desert warmth in Mesa.

Visit Mesa isn't the only Arizona group to recently kick off a campaign to draw visitors from out of state. In January, the Arizona Office of Tourism installed a large billboard -- with gigantic flip flops smashing in two prop vehicles -- in Chicago as part of its "Warm Up in AZ" campaign.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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