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Today's newsletter is 934 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Phoenix is a sports (bar) town

Sports bars per capita by metro area
Data: Yelp; Note: Among 112 metro areas with at least 500k residents; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Valley has a sports bar scene befitting a metro that's home to professional franchises, a large university with a popular athletics program and major sporting events.

Zoom in: The Phoenix area has 8.1 sports bars per 100,000 residents, ranking us 44th and putting us above the national average of 7.3, according to data from Yelp.

Phoenix ranks ahead of most of its counterparts with MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams. Only Chicago (9.7), Denver (9) and Detroit (8.2) have more sports bars per 100,000 residents than the Valley.

The big picture: The presence of major franchises or events seems to bear little relation to the size of a city's sports bar scene.

  • The top city on the list was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, whose 18.8 sports bars per 100,000 residents far outpaced second-place Las Vegas, with 15.1.

The other side: You have to search extra hard for a good place to watch a game and grab a drink in Provo, Utah, which was at the bottom of the pack with just 1.4 per 100,000 residents.

Between the lines: Yelp reviews dubbed north Scottsdale's Longshots Bar and Grill as the Valley's best sports bar for its "higher end" bar food, great service and ample television array.

Jeremy's thought bubble: I know this is an ASU town first and foremost, but we need more good UofA-centric sports bars in the Valley, especially since Arcadia Tavern closed down.

You tell us: What do you think is the best sports bar in the Valley? And why?

  • And where's the best place for a Wildcats fan to catch a game?

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2. 🏀 The final prep for the Final Four

A scene from the 2017 Final Four in Glendale. Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

Speaking of big sporting events in the Valley, Glendale is beginning its final preparations for the Final Four, and events at State Farm Stadium will be on hiatus for nearly a month in the meantime.

State of play: Work recently began on two major projects for the big dance — a hanging scoreboard in the middle of the arena and temporary stands for fans, city manager Kevin Phelps tells Axios Phoenix.

  • Mecum Auctions' car auction from March 5 to 9 will be the stadium's last event until Final Four festivities begin April 5.

Zoom in: Preparations are in some ways more intensive than last year's Super Bowl. The city has projected it will host more than double the number of people for the Final Four than for the NFL championship game.

  • While the Super Bowl is a one-day event, Final Four fans will be inside the stadium for multiple days.
  • That means the city has to staff up more for transportation and public safety.

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3. 🇯🇵 Courting Japanese businesses

Kenko Sone, consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, meets attendees of last week's forum. Photo: Courtesy of Stefanie Carson/Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Valley business and government leaders are continuing to try to persuade the Japanese semiconductor industry to expand operations here.

  • A group of 80 Japanese businesspeople and dignitaries visited last week — the fourth delegation the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) has hosted since 2022.

Why it matters: Some of Arizona's biggest semiconductor manufacturers rely on Japanese suppliers.

  • Bringing those companies to metro Phoenix would build up the local supply chain and add high-wage jobs, GPEC vice president of business development Thomas Maynard told Axios Phoenix.

The intrigue: Kenko Sone, the consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, told Axios Phoenix it's easy to sell Japanese companies on the business benefits of operating in the Valley because of Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Yes, but: It's harder to make the case that Phoenix is a good cultural fit, he said.

  • Phoenix doesn't have an established Japanese neighborhood or business district like LA does.

Zoom in: That was why this business mission corresponded with Arizona Matsuri, Phoenix's Festival of Japan held over the weekend.

  • "I came last year and I was really amazed that so many people had so much interest in Japanese culture," Sone said.

What we're watching

4. Chips & salsa: Central Phoenix developers wanted

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🏢 The city of Phoenix is seeking developers to build a mixed-use multi-family development on 3.2 acres of vacant land it owns on Central Avenue south of Indian School Road. (Phoenix Business Journal)

🚰 Arizona's auditor general blasted the state Land Department for leasing land to a Saudi company at below-market rates and not making it pay for groundwater. (Capitol Media Services)

ğŸŽ“ Nearly 4,000 Arizonans would have about $33 million in student loan debt canceled under a plan announced by President Biden last week. (AP)

5.🏗️ What are they building?

Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

A state-of-the-art veterinary pharmacy is going up near the Chandler Airport Center, helping to fill out an area the city is eyeing as a major center for economic development.

State of play: Wedgewood, which calls itself the largest compounding pharmacy in the U.S., is building a 90,000-square-foot veterinary pharmacy on Northrop Boulevard, between Chandler Municipal Airport and Loop 202. It's replacing a smaller Scottsdale facility.

  • The building's shell is completed and the company is now working on internal improvements, Chandler economic development director Micah Miranda told Axios Phoenix.
  • It's expected to open in early 2025 and employ about 250 people by 2027.

Why it matters: Chandler Airport Center is the city's "least mature employment corridor" and contains its "largest remaining landmass available for development," Miranda said.

  • The city is targeting high-wage, high-capital investment employers for the area, which it hopes will eventually rival Chandler's Price Corridor, which runs from around Ray Road to the Intel Ocotillo Campus, in terms of job density.

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🍴 Jeremy had a great time with his wife at Devour Phoenix. He'd never gone before and had no idea what he was missing.

😈 Jessica is exhibiting great self-control by allowing Jeremy to talk about UofA so much in today's newsletter. Go Devils!

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Jay Bennett.

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