A commemorative license plate emblazoned with an Arizona state flag-inspired graphic and the phrase “1912 Centennial 2012” across the bottom was released Oct. 31 by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
From the outset, plate designer Peter Shikany said his goal was to capture “the flavor of the state of Arizona.” But he had two visions for how he could achieve that.
“I had some art of the Grand Canyon and Desert Vista, and another idea was a bold graphic of the state flag,” Shikany said. Eventually, though, his team made their preference clear. “Everybody kept coming back to the idea of using the state flag. The colors made a really pleasing design.”
After 1,900 of the $25 plates have been sold, ADOT will receive $8 for every plate purchased and the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Office of Tourism’s Arizona Centennial Commission, will receive the remaining $17, to be spent on other centennial events.
Arizona Centennial Commission Director Karen Churchard said that during her work in the past few years planning for the state’s centennial celebration, many people told her they wanted a centennial license plate.
“When I went on the road three years ago and talked to citizens about what they wanted for the centennial…I said we hoped that people in every county, community and tribe would participate,” Churchard said. “Everybody I talked to kept saying they wanted a centennial license plate.”
With slightly more than three months until the state’s 100th birthday, Churchard doesn’t expect the plate will be a huge seller, but she thinks that sales will at least cover the cost of development. Money from the first plates sold goes to pay back the $32,000 in initial development costs.
ADOT spokesman Timothy Tait hopes that after drivers see the plates on the road, more will be willing to shell out the extra money to purchase one. Even though the plates are made to honor the centennial, they will continue to be produced as long as there is demand for them.
“Like with most specialty plates, when people start to see it, drivers become much more interested,” Tait said.
The license plate is one of nine centennial celebration projects put on by the foundation, which include volunteer initiatives, city beautification projects, commemorative stamps and a museum. The foundation, which does not receive money from the state, plans to spend about $25 million on all the projects, and has raised $5.6 million in private donations and corporate sponsorships so far, Churchard said. It also received a $7 million federal grant for the “Centennial Way” street construction and beautification project on Washington Street.