Mill Avenue New Year's Eve party to be scaled back

- New Year's Eve is just a month away, so it may be time to start making your plans.

Downtown Tempe officials say they are not saying the event is canceled, just very scaled back. They tell us after sponsorships have dried up and numbers not being what they used to be, changes had to be made to the event.

"Everything that you see when an event is set up has been paid for and all of that is part of the routine, but when attendance continues to decrease, it's kind of difficult to make those numbers work," said Kate Borders, Executive Director of the Downtown Tempe Authority.

For years, the New Year's Eve block party on Mill Avenue was the place to be to ring in the new year. The event was previously sponsored and organized by the Fiesta Bowl, bringing in more than 100,000 people. Once the bowl moved to Glendale in 2011, the sponsorship was pulled and the Downtown Tempe Authority took over.

Borders says in 2014, about 17,000 people showed up and last year, about 27,000.

"I think this happens with all events. The event, they evolve and things change and that's where we are now and we have to look at what's best for the city," she said.

Because of the low attendance numbers, the event will be drastically scaled back. This year, Mill Avenue will still be closed off, but there will be no headlining band or cover charge. Some bar managers say scaling the event back isn't a huge deal.

"Could go either way. We may have less people in the area because the big block party isn't going to be the way it's been with bands and such, but like you pointed out, without a cover charge, people might be inclined to come in any way," said Mellow Mushroom Pizza's Keith Correa.

Others aren't happy with the decision.

"They're not investing in the event to make it more than just a day to open the doors," said The Handlebar's Nick Nitz.  "I think New Year's is going to be slower than normal and that hurts downtown Tempe as a whole. Not just my business."     

Several bars, including The Handlebar, will be having their own live entertainment and special event for New Year's Eve.
Mill Avenue will be closed to traffic from 3rd to University around 8:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve and will remain closed until about 2:00 a.m. New Year's Day.
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