14th Annual MPA Wild Ride: The University of Arizona, an Economic Engine Written by: Alice Templeton and Peter Dourlein


On April 12, 2018, the Metropolitan Pima Alliance (MPA) and title sponsor Meritage Homes will present the 14th Annual MPA 2018 Wild Ride. This year, the Wild Ride’s theme is The University of Arizona, An Economic  Engine.  The  theme  of  the  event  recognizes  the  huge  positive  economic  impact  directly and indirectly generated by the University of Arizona for our community.

The 2018 Wild Ride is taking place on the UA campus where the expected 200 attendees will listen to speakers over lunch in the Sands Club and then enjoy a walking tour of recently constructed facilities.

A 2014 study on the UA’s economic impact from 2010 to 2011 data [Tripp Umback, Economic and Social Contribution of the University of Arizona, May 2014] reported the following annual impact to Pima County:

  • Total Economic Impact: $1,792,284,679
  • Total Jobs: 17,068
  • Total State and Local Taxes: $91,496,133

The UA’s current student population of 43,000 could increase to something closer to 55,000 in the next decade increasing the need for responsible infrastructure, facilities and programs that support that growth. Similarly, the UA’s research portfolio could increase from the current volume of over $600,000,000 per year to $800,000,000 over the next 10 years.

Stops along the Wild Ride, which is a walking tour this year, will showcase the following:

Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, in the north end zone of Arizona Stadium featuring the Sands Club, Bear Down Kitchen and a glimpse into the football athletic training facilities.

The USS Arizona Mall Memorial, featuring a full-scale outline of the deck of the ship. The memorial also includes panels that hold bronze medallions displaying the name, rank and home state of each of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died when the USS Arizona was attacked in Pearl Harbor.

Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Lab Building, this building is the center of UA’s tree ring studies. It gives the impression of a tree house while accommodating laboratory and office space and public exhibition space.

Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building, billed as the eco-friendliest building on campus, the iconic building is reminiscent of a slot canyon and features nearly 300 artistic inlays.

Old Main Renovation, the remodel and renovation of the UA’s historic building was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council with a Leadership Award.

The speaker lineup includes UA staff and representatives of private development who will underscore the roles of institutions like the UA in sustaining economic growth:

  • Jeff Grobstein, Division President, Meritage Homes, Topic: Welcome and sponsor comments
  • Peter Dourlein, Campus Architect and VP for Planning, Design & Construction, The University of Arizona, Topic: Wild Ride Orientation and Overview of Facilities
  • Stephen Fleming, Vice President, Strategic Business Initiatives, The University of Arizona, Topic: Economic development and research dollars
  • Bob Smith, Vice President for University Planning, Design and Operations, The University of Arizona, Topic: the Honors College and collaborative economic development opportunities
  • Stephen Bus, Managing Principal, Up Campus Properties, Topic: Private development working with a university to create economic development
  • Keri Silvyn, Partner, Lazarus, Silvyn & Bangs, Topic: the Speedway Campbell Gateway project

Typical Wild Ride attendees include elected officials, government sector employees, real estate brokers, general contractors, architects, engineers and community leaders.

Event Specifics

  • What: The University of Arizona, An Economic Engine (A walking tour)
  • When: Thursday, April 12, 2018
  • Time: 11:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Starts at UA North End Zone – Sands Club, Physical address is 565 N. Cherry

Register at mpaaz.com/wildride

The MPA is dedicated to advocating for responsible development and furthering the interests of the real estate and development industry. MPA’s main funding is through its two large annual events, the Common Ground Awards that celebrates collaboration and The Wild Ride. Each year, the Wild Ride committee selects an area or jurisdiction to showcase and to provide a ground-level view to participants of emerging development. The selection of the UA campus for this year’s Wild Ride is a testament to the continuing enormous value of this institution to our community.


Alice Templeton is the business development director for Barker Contracting, Inc. She has decades of experience in enhancing business practices and communications on behalf of Tucson’s A/E/C industry. Alice is a former president and current board member of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance. She can be reached at atempleton@ barkerone.com.

Peter Dourlein, AIA, LEED AP is Campus Architect and Assistant Vice President for Planning, Design & Construction. Overthelast 26 yearshehasbeenapartofthelargestcapitalconstructionprogramsinthe University’s history. He is a registered architect and LEED Accredited Professional. He can be reached at dourlein@email. arizona.edu.