Gila River Arena

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Gila River Arena
Gila River Arena.jpg
North Entrance, 2005
Former names Glendale Arena (2003–06) Arena (2006–14)
Location 9400 W Maryland Ave
Glendale, AZ 85305
Coordinates 33°31′55″N 112°15′40″W / 33.53194°N 112.26111°W / 33.53194; -112.26111Coordinates: 33°31′55″N 112°15′40″W / 33.53194°N 112.26111°W / 33.53194; -112.26111
Owner City of Glendale
Operator Global Spectrum and IceArizona, LLC[1]

Hockey: 17,125

Max: 19,000
Broke ground April 3, 2002 (2002-04-03)
Opened December 26, 2003 (2003-12-26)
Construction cost $220 million[2]
($282 million in 2015 dollars[3])
Architect HOK Sport[4]
Project manager ICON Venue Group[5]
Structural engineer John A. Martin & Associates, Inc.[6]
Services engineer Syska Hennessy Group, Inc.[7]
General contractor Perini Building Company[8]
Arizona Coyotes (NHL) (2003–Present)
Arizona Sting (NLL) (2003–07)
Venue Website

Gila River Arena (formerly Arena) is a sports and entertainment arena in Glendale, Arizona. It is located about 12.5 miles (20.1 km) northwest of downtown Phoenix.

The Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL) has been the primary tenant since the building opened on December 26, 2003. It sits on the north side of West Maryland Avenue across from University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the National Football League's (NFL) Arizona Cardinals. The venue anchors the City of Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District just east of Arizona Loop 101.

The now-defunct Arizona Sting also had played four National Lacrosse League (NLL) seasons at the arena until their 13-11 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks in the 2007 Champion's Cup game. Negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement originally delayed the start of 2008 NLL season, but the Sting did not participate. They eventually ceased operations in 2009.

Completed at a construction cost of $220 million, it seats 17,125 for hockey and lacrosse, 18,300 for basketball and about 19,000 for concert events. The arena has 3,075 club seats and 87 luxury suites (including two Luxury Tower Suites). It also features a completely integrated video, scoring and advertising system from Daktronics.[9]

After officially acquiring ownership of the Coyotes, IceArizona hired Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum as the arena management company on October 10, 2013.


Gila River Arena before a Coyotes game; from south end, looking north
Gila River Arena before a Coyotes game; from west side, looking east

The arena's construction broke ground on April 3, 2002 and the Coyotes moved into the arena in late 2003. After relocating from Winnipeg on July 1, 1996, the team had spent its first 7½ seasons at America West Arena (now the Talking Stick Resorts Arena) in downtown Phoenix. The AWA was not an old arena (it had made its debut as the new home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns only four years earlier in 1992) but it was primarily designed for NBA basketball. It was quickly retrofitted for hockey. However, the arena floor was just barely large enough to fit a regulation hockey rink, and several seats had badly obstructed views. As a result, before the team's second season in Phoenix, its hockey capacity had to be cut down from over 18,000 seats to just over 16,000—the second-smallest capacity in the NHL at the time. After the Colorado Avalanche moved from McNichols Sports Arena into Pepsi Center in 1999, and the Toronto Maple Leafs moved from the Maple Leaf Gardens to Air Canada Centre later in the same season, America West Arena was the smallest NHL venue. A small section of seats on the lower level actually hung over the boards, obstructing the views for up to 3,000 spectators.

When the Coyotes were sold to a partnership led by Steve Ellman, that group committed to building a new arena in suburban Glendale. With agreements signed with the city of Glendale in 2001, the venue opened midway through the 2003–04 NHL season as the Glendale Arena on December 26, 2003, with the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League defeating the Vancouver Ravens, 16–12, the 2004 NLL season opener. The first NHL game was held the next evening, as the Coyotes dropped a 3–1 decision to the Nashville Predators on December 27, 2003. The first goal ever in the arena was scored by Nashville forward Scott Walker.

The arena was expected to gain the 2009 NHL All-Star Game after losing the 2006 All-Star Game because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement ratification in the National Hockey League; however, the Montreal Canadiens and their arena, Bell Centre, were awarded the 2009 All-Star Game.[10] Under the terms of the new agreement, the All-Star Game would not be held during the year of the Winter Olympics in order for players to participate in the Games. Philips Arena in Atlanta, which lost the All-Star Game in 2005 because of the lockout, was awarded the 2008 All-Star Game. No announcement has been made by the National Hockey League on when the Arizona Coyotes would host an All-Star Game.

Beginning in 2005, the venue has been host to the Arizona state high school basketball, volleyball, wrestling and cheerleading tournaments in a mega-event called "February Frenzy", as the result of a formal agreement between the city of Glendale and the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).

The Arizona Sting did not play after the 2007 season and fully ceased operations in 2009.

Since 2004, the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series bull riding tour has hosted an annual event at this venue (except for 2006 when the event was held at Chase Field).

Prior to the 2009-2010 season, this was the only current NHL arena to have never hosted a playoff game, as the Coyotes' last playoff appearance was in 2002 when they still played home games in downtown Phoenix. However, the team qualified for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, ending that drought. They played the Red Wings and lost the series 4-3. The 2010-2011 Coyotes season ended at Arena with a 4-game sweep of the Coyotes by the Detroit Red Wings.

The arena saw extra action during the 2011-12 NHL season as the Coyotes not only qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings in five games. Every home playoff game as in years past featured a "White Out", continuing the tradition of years past in both Phoenix and Winnipeg playoff series of giving fans white T-shirts to wear for the games.

Naming rights[edit]

Naming rights to the arena were initially held by—a Phoenix-based employment website—under a 10-year, $30 million deal established in October 2006.[11]

On August 13, 2014, the Coyotes terminated their naming rights deal with, and announced a new nine-year naming rights and sponsorship deal with Gila River Casinos—a group of tribal casinos controlled by the Gila River Indian Community. No financial terms were announced. Team CEO Anthony LeBlanc described the new naming rights deal as the "most significant deal" made by the team under its new IceArizona ownership.[12] With the deal, the Gila River community became the first federally recognized Native American tribe to hold a naming rights deal with a venue for one of the major North American professional sports leagues.[13]


  1. ^ "Coyotes Purchased by IceArizona, Will Change Name to Arizona Coyotes After Next Season". New England Sports Network. Fenway Sports Group/Delaware North. August 5, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Flannery, Pat (December 27, 2003). "Today's the Day. This Is Just the Beginning: A Milestone in West Side's Rise". The Arizona Republic (Phoenix). Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^ Arena architect: Populous
  5. ^ " Arena". ICON Venue Group. December 26, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ "JAMA / Sports & Recreation". John A. Martin & Associates Inc. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Creating Exceptional Environments". Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ " Arena". Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Daktronics Photo Gallery: Arena". 
  10. ^ TSN: NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  11. ^ ", Glendale Arena deal confirmed". Phoenix Business Journal. American City Business Journals. October 25, 2006. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ "With New Naming Rights to Their Arena, Arizona Coyotes Make Economic Statement". Bleacher Report. August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014. 
  13. ^ "An Arizona tribe is going to be the first to have naming rights to a professional sports arena". Washington Post. August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
America West Arena
Home of the
Arizona Coyotes

2003 – Present
Succeeded by