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Little Tempe _ That’s Tem-PEE _ Braces For Super Bowl

January 23, 1996

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ That’s Tem-PEE. Not TEMP-ee, Tem-peh or Temp.

And definitely not Phoenix.

The second-smallest city ever to host a Super Bowl, this college town is waging a war for its identity as football fans either mispronounce its name or assume it’s part of Phoenix.

``We want to make sure people know Tempe hasn’t actually been annexed by the city of Phoenix,″ said Mayor Neil Giuliano, whose staff shipped information to media around the world instructing them on the proper pronunciation of the name.

Founded in 1872, Tempe was named by English traveler Darrel Duppa, who said the city’s desert buttes reminded him of the vale of Tempe in northeast Greece. The city is the home of Arizona State University, the Southwest’s largest university, and is known for its bars, music scene and nightlife.

With a population of 155,000 expected to double on game day, Tempe has fought being overshadowed by its giant neighbor, Phoenix. In fact, the first round of Super Bowl sporting gear actually said ``Phoenix Super Bowl.″

``Because Phoenix is where the airport is, people assume that’s the only city in the (area) that counts,″ said Abbie Fink, a Tempe spokeswoman. ``But there’s only one place where Sun Devil stadium is, and that’s Tempe.″

Mispronunciations aside, Tempeans are not looking to compete with Phoenix.

``Tempe has always known it wasn’t Phoenix. Nobody has any giant egos here, they just kind of get the job done. Tempe is kind of a sleepy little giant,″ said Keith Stone, owner of Stan’s Metro Deli.

Residents believe the city’s small-town feel will set it apart from past Super Bowl venues, including major cities like Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. The smallest Super Bowl city, Pasadena, Calif., has played host to the championship game five times since 1977.

With its sidewalk coffee shops, throngs of college students and offbeat shops _ Tempe is hoping to show out-of-towners an alternative to its wealthier neighbor, Scottsdale, rife with glitzy art galleries and posh golf resorts.

``The thing that’s cool about Tempe is that it’s a town. You’ve got mostly independently owned stores, independently owned restaurants,″ said Dave Sherman, owner The Cap Co., a downtown store hawking 780 styles of Super Bowl baseball caps.

Other residents don’t seem bothered by the confusion.

``Tempe is just the southeast corner of Phoenix,″ said Larry Bennett, a Tempe resident who works for AAA Cab in Phoenix. Bennett said customers coming in for the Super Bowl sometimes don’t know the difference between the two cities.

``Sometimes it’s a little irritating, but people out of state don’t know where Tempe is. They think of Phoenix,″ he said. ``The recognition of the state is more important than drawing a fine line.″

Mark Brophy, manager of Long Wong’s, a popular bar and restaurant in downtown Tempe, said the Tempe-Phoenix debate is pointless. The typical wealthy Super Bowl visitor will likely head to a more upscale area altogether, he said.

``If you live here, you know they’re going to Scottsdale anyway,″ he said. ``They’re not coming here.″

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