Timing is everything. For the 1992-93 NBA season, the Suns got a new coach in Paul Westphal, a new star in Charles Barkley, and a new building in America West Arena (now US Airways Center). Even the players voted it the best arena in the league in a 1994 USA Today survey.
The Suns hired former player Alvan Adams to tour the finest arenas in the world; the best of their features were incorporated into the arena's design. Everything is state-of-the-art, built with not only the fans but also the players in mind. Unlike most NBA teams, the Suns practice where they play, in a gym built next to the locker rooms at the arena.
All the seats, even the less expensive ones, have great sight lines. America West Arena is pretty, too, with the Suns' team colors - purple, orange, and copper - everywhere. No expense has been spared. The downtown location is perfect. Crime is low, and plenty of police and security officers help with traffic and directions into and out of the arena's 11 acres.
Get here early and stroll around. Before game time, bands play outside on the plaza, and Suns fans love to mingle and chat with tourists and visitors before tipoff. Owner Jerry Colangelo's office overlooks the arena plaza so he can watch the people coming in. Wave to him. He'll wave back. Or, if you are too excited about the game to leave your seat, come back later for a guided tour - it's worth it.
SUNS ADDING SOLAR POWER TO ARENA
September 4, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
Phoenix, Ariz. - The Phoenix Suns plan to use solar panels for power at the US Airways Center,
becoming one of only a handful of professional sports teams that get a portion of their energy from renewable sources like sun or wind.
The new photovoltaic system will consist of more than 1,100 panels and be installed on the
center's parking garage in downtown Phoenix.
At 194 kilowatts, it will produce enough energy to reduce the team's power usage by the
equivalent of 26 home games each season, Suns General Manager Steve Kerr said.
The system is expected to be operational next year.
The Suns' installation will cost about $1.5 million, and the team estimates it will receive a
yearly rebate of $60,000 to $85,000 from Arizona Public Service Co. via the utility's
renewable-energy incentive program.
The project will not cost the team any up-front cash; nor will it lead to a ticket-price increase, Kerr said.
Instead, the Suns will negotiate an agreement with a third-party, California-based firm in
which that company pays the costs associated with the project, including the purchase and
installation of the panels.
The firm, Tioga Energy, will also be responsible for the panels' maintenance over a 20-year
The Suns, in turn, will pay Tioga an annual fee based on the amount of energy the solar panels
produce, as well as assign the APS rebates to them, said Jason Rowley, the Suns senior vice
president and general counsel. (Arizona Republic)
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
November 16, 2001
|US Airways Center Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 7|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 3|
|Bonus: Mike Tyson Sighting|| 2|
|Bonus: The Gorilla Mascot|| 1|
|Bonus: Adjacent to Ballpark|| 2|
|Total Score|| 54|
November 17, 2001
November 9, 2006 - America West Arena, originally built as the home of the Phoenix Suns, also became the home of the Phoenix Coyotes when this franchise moved here from Winnipeg in 1996. Additionally, the building also houses Arena Football's Arizona Rattlers and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. As we shall explain, this venue is a basketball arena; it is configured as such, and as a result does not work well for sports or events requiring a larger surface.
The arena was opened in 1992, and for the Phoenix Suns, this represented a move from the Memorial Coliseum, just north of downtown Phoenix and still standing and open for business to this day. Seating just over 19,000 for basketball, America West Arena is part of downtown's new Copper District, which also includes Bank One Ballpark, office development, housing, parking and restaurants.
Outside the Venue
Getting to the arena is pretty easy, with a well laid out interstate system looping around the downtown core and wide parkway type downtown streets everywhere. Parking here starts at $10, but drops quickly less than a block away and $5 and even $3 lots were in abundance. Meters are not monitored at night, so snag a free spot if you can, and since streets are well lit and clean, things here are pretty safe.
The arena is bound on the north side by skyscrapers, east and west by parking, including a parking ramp built right into the complex, and south is where redevelopment is underway. Directly across the street from the south entrance are two VERY cool sports bars - "Cooperstown", Alice Cooper's eatery just full of sports and music memorabilia, and "Jackson's on Third". Both places have large outdoor patios and gathering areas to enjoy the terrific Arizona weather (we say "terrific" because it is November).
The signature entrance to the venue is on the northwest side, and here is a large public plaza with the ticket and will call windows, fountains, landscaping, benches. Both the Suns and the Coyotes present elaborate pregame entertainment out here to draw fans early for the festivities. Radio stations had their booths up, vendors selling souvenirs, a live band playing music all made for a nice way to begin the evening here.
All the concourses here at the arena recently underwent a facelift, and we could still see some of the construction dust evident in nooks and crannies. With terrazzo tile flooring, walls are all backlit in a soft blue, with futuristic looking silver panels on the ceiling and silver wall accents. Section signage is done to match. There is one escalator tower to take you to the upper concourse, and inside the "main" northwest entrance is a team store and a lobby, while not huge, providing ample entrance space.
That being said, we give a major deduction to the space afforded to the upper level concourse. Once you ride the escalator to the top, you step into a corridor which is not more than three people wide. Add these tiny concession stands with only two stations each, and that makes for massive long lines for food and drink. The upper level here is not much better than the orange level at the old Aud - we can't even imagine the chaos if this place had to be evacuated in a hurry. What were the designers of this venue thinking???!
Other than the standard fare, the one stand stand that did catch our eye was the "Southwestern Grill", offering Quesadillas among other local delicacies. The large and spacious concession stands are in the the lower concourse... the design and placement of these stands upstairs was almost an afterthought... "let the people in the cheap seats eat cake!"
Over 19,000 seats for basketball and 16, 210 for hockey, the seating bowl is colored in Phoenix Suns purple, except for a section of grey seats ringing the top of the 100 level in the west end zone. This area was recently renovated and is now part of a "Platinum Club". A four sided dot matrix scoreboard hangs in the center. And on all four sides of the rafters hangs video boards. Along all the balconies are collages of backlit ad panels which are poorly organized and make the seating bowl look busy. Between the lower and upper levels is a private level of 88 suites.
Our major commentary here concerns the seating configuration for NHL hockey. Because of the way this arena was built, it is configured for basketball, with a tight, intimate seating configuration. To reconfigure it for hockey, they remove the lowest seats at the one end zone and push the rink out into that direction. First of all, this means that the scoreboard hangs roughly above the blue line... (soooo Blue Cross Arena in Rochester!). Second, that means that the remaining end zone/corner seats in the 100 level and those above in the 200 level become obstructed. Fans sitting there can not see anything beyond the top of the face off circle. We are not talking about a few seats here... we are talking THOUSANDS of seats, including the new "Platinum" seats which are supposed to command top dollar.
They left Winnipeg for THIS???!!!
The Coyotes have the gall to actually charge money to fans to sit there.. granted, $9 and $21, but still, we were amazed that people would be foolish enough to actually part with their cash just for the privilege of sitting inside this building to see two thirds of a hockey game.
The new "Platinum Club" is located along the west endzone, and with wider, padded, grey seats, private concourse, restaurant, and in seat waiter service, the Suns were pushing their new club heavily. A couple of thoughts - being in the end zone, these aren't the premium vantage points to watch a game from, especially an NBA game. Second, for the NHL Coyotes this "club" is useless, for the seats corresponding to this premium area are all obstructed view.
The policy for NHL games on who gets to go in the club is still fuzzy, and the day after the game, we learned that season ticket holders were grumbling that they were not given access. The $21 seat holders were denied access. Who gets in the club, who doesn't? Depends on which usher you walk by and what kind of mood he/she is in, we guess. Bottom line - this whole club seat thing is ONE BIG MESS here in Phoenix.
On The upper level balcony opposite the"club" level are the names and numbers of several of the finest players ever to wear the Sun's uniform. Some of the names (with faces) are Dick Van Arsdale, Connie Hawkins, Alvin Adams, Paul Westphal, Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson. These names and others are bookended by signs representing the Suns' two Western Conference titles in 1976 AND 1993.
No items of note for the Coyotes/Jets. Their WHA Avco Cups must still be sitting under the watchful eyes of Queen Elizabeth II at the Winnipeg Arena. However some of the dot matrix boards do scroll occasional facts and figures concerning the Coyotes/Jets franchise.
Slam Dunks... Assists.. Fouls
Slam Dunk, errr.. "Hat Trick" - Things get a bit better from here - the Coyotes use the Coyote "howl" as a mainstay of their cheerleading, substituting the "HOWL" in the "CHARGE" theme, using songs and video clips involving howls, all done very cleverly.
Hat Trick - Following a tradition started by the fans in Winnipeg, Coyotes fans in attendance at playoff games are all dressed in WHITE. What a great way of showing solidarity with the team! Props to Coyotes fans (and Winnipeg Jets fans!).
Foul - the location of the video boards is way high up, and out of your line of vision if you are looking at replays and the playing surface at the same time. Of course, if you are one of the wretched fools who shelled out $21 for a view of a blue line and a railing, then the video boards up high suit you just fine.
Slam Dunk, errr.. "Home Run" - Sandwiched in between these two games we managed to take in baseball's Arizona Fall League Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium. Great minor league venue, a sunny 80 degree day, and the home team Phoenix Desert Dogs plate 7 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win the game in dramatic fashion, 12-8. Thanks to Ryan Eigenbrode of Major League Baseball public relations for the press credentials!
This is a striking building from the outside - attractive back lit marquees, flood lighting, beautiful public spaces, and all downtown, but the inside left us disappointed, from the tight upper concourses, to the lack of fan amenities to the "so-so" seating bowl. We do have to give props, though, to the Phoenix fans who back their Suns, and anything run by team owner Mr. Jerry Colangelo is usually done professionally and first class!
As far as hockey goes, we are sorry to be so harsh, but with this horrific configuration we have no choice but to rate this the WORST hockey venue in the NHL. There are plans for a new arena... at first there was talk for a venue in Phoenix, and then plans were drawn for the Los Arcos project in Scottsdale. That plan fell apart, but apparently now there is talk for ground breaking soon for the Coyotes new home in Glendale. Can the Coyotes go from worst to first in terms of their venue? Get a shovel in ground, get it built, and the Ultimate Sports Road Trip will be back to check things out!
NEW SIGNAGE PLANNED AROUND PHOENIX VENUES
February 17, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Phoenix, Ariz. - The Suns and Diamondbacks are bringing the bright, flashy signs of Las Vegas
and New York City's Times Square to downtown Phoenix, and city leaders hope the effort will pump more life and money into the area, the Arizona Republic reported.
By the time the Major League Baseball All-Star Game begins July 12, electronic billboards four to five stories tall will cover concrete walls and tower over the plazas of US Airways Center, the Jefferson Street parking garage and Chase Field. Giant LED TVs may cover the sides of other buildings nearby. Animated advertisements may flicker a commercial for Pepsi or Coca-Cola or a downtown restaurant.
Called the Legends Entertainment District, the marketing initiative was unveiled by Phoenix's professional basketball and baseball teams, which have formed a limited-liability corporation to jointly handle ad sales on the big signs they plan to build.
"This is going to take it to another level with the baseball All-Star Game," Rick Welts, president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns, told the Republic.
Over the next few years, buildings from First Avenue to Seventh Street and from Washington Street to Jackson Street are expected to be covered with the bling of a bustling city, the newspaper said.
The aim is to create more energy to encourage people to linger outside the major stadium events to shop, eat and drink downtown.
The city, the Suns and the Diamondbacks all stand to gain financially from the initiative, the newspaper said.
Additional retail sales downtown would bring additional sales-tax dollars for Phoenix. The city charges a 0.5 percent license tax for advertisements that are broadcast, published or appear in the city. Last year, the city collected about $2.8 million in license taxes from ads.
The teams would earn money from ad sales and sponsorships. The teams have about 200 sponsors.