US Airways Center

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US Airways Center
The Purple Palace, The Snake Pit
US Airways Center Logo.svg
USAirwaysCenterNight.jpg
Entrance of arena seen at night
Former names America West Arena (1992–2006)
Location 201 East Jefferson
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Coordinates 33°26′45″N 112°4′17″W / 33.44583°N 112.07139°W / 33.44583; -112.07139Coordinates: 33°26′45″N 112°4′17″W / 33.44583°N 112.07139°W / 33.44583; -112.07139
Broke ground August 1, 1990[1]
Opened June 6, 1992
Renovated 2003
Owner City of Phoenix
Operator Phoenix Arena Development, L.P.
Construction cost $90 million
($151 million in 2014 dollars[2]

2001–04 renovations: $67 million
($83.7 million in 2014 dollars
Architect Ellerbe Becket
Project manager Huber, Hunt & Nichols[3]
Structural engineer Horst Berger[4]/Severud[5]
Services engineer Flack + Kurtz[6]
General contractor Perini Building Company[7]
Capacity Basketball: 19,023 (1992–2003), 18,422 (2003–present)
Ice hockey: 16,210
Arena football: 15,505
Public transit access Convention Center
Tenants
Phoenix Suns (NBA) (1992–present)
Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) (1997–present)
Arizona Rattlers (AFL) (1992–present)
Arizona Sandsharks (CISL) (1993–1997)
Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) (1996–2003)
Phoenix RoadRunners (ECHL) (2005–2009) NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight)
(1999, 2004, 2008, 2012)
Aerial view of arena
US Airways Center inside
US Airways Center before a Phoenix Suns game

US Airways Center is a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The arena opened in 1992 and is the home of the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association and the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association. US Airways Center is located near Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and together those two venues make up half of the buildings used for Phoenix area professional teams. (The other two venues, University of Phoenix Stadium and Jobing.com Arena, are located in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.)

The arena was known from its opening until 2006 as America West Arena, with naming rights having been sold to Tempe, Arizona based America West Airlines. In 2005, America West purchased rival carrier US Airways and assumed its name, with the naming rights agreement carried with it. The venue adopted its current name in 2006 after a rebranding, and is the second arena that US Airways has owned the naming rights for after Washington, DC's Capital Centre, which was known as US Airways Arena from 1996 until 1997 after the company, which had been known as USAir prior to that, rebranded.

The naming rights agreement in place is set until 2022. However, with the recent merger between US Airways and American Airlines and the rebranding under the American name that will take place, it is unclear whether American will break the contract or rebrand the arena with its own name. American already owns the naming rights to two other arenas, American Airlines Center in Dallas and American Airlines Arena in Miami.[8]

The arena finished renovations in 2003, which added an air-conditioned glassed pavilion to keep people cool while waiting in line for tickets or before events. These renovations were part of the Phoenix Suns plan to keep the arena viable when Jobing.com Arena would open and take event dates from America West Arena.[9] The idea to remake the arena came to Jerry Colangelo when he visited Staples Center, and envisioned a similar entertainment district in Phoenix.[10]

The Arena also features, the Verve Lounge, a high-class exclusive bar lounge.[11]

Sports teams and events[edit]

Basketball, arena football, and ice hockey are all played at the Center, in addition to concerts, professional wrestling, ice shows, and other events.

The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL once called the US Airways Center home, starting with their move from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996, and up until 2003, when they moved to Jobing.com Arena (formerly Glendale Arena), which was more suited for NHL hockey. It was also the home of the indoor soccer team Arizona Sandsharks of the CISL.

Its most common nickname is "The Purple Palace," though during the Rattlers' season it is known as "the Snake Pit."[citation needed]

Capacity for basketball was originally 19,023, but was downsized after the 2002-2003 season to 18,422.

Three of the games of the 1993 NBA Finals between the Suns and the Chicago Bulls, including game six where John Paxson hit a last second 3 point shot to clinch the Bulls' Championship, were played there, as was one of the three 1998 WNBA Finals games and two ArenaBowl games, and some games of the 2007 and 2009 WNBA Finals. In 1997, the Rattlers won ArenaBowl XI at America West Arena. The 1995 NBA All-Star Game was played in the arena as well as the 2000 WNBA All-Star Game, and the arena hosted the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.[12]

In boxing, Oscar de la Hoya had a few of his early bouts at the arena, and Michael Carbajal also fought there, including winning the WBO world Junior Flyweight title from Josue Camacho in 1994, and Julio Cesar Chavez ended his career with a fight at the arena.

In bull riding, the PBR hosted a Built Ford Tough Series (at the time, called the Bud Light Cup) event at the arena each year between 1999 and 2002; in 2004 the event was moved to the Glendale Arena (later Jobing.com Arena). The PBR will be returning to the arena for the first time in March 2014.

On December 10, 1993, legendary singer Frank Sinatra did one of his last concerts at America West Arena.

WWE held the 2013 Royal Rumble event at the arena. The US Airways Center is also the standard venue when WWE visits Phoenix. The Venue was host of a Raw is War in 1998, a House Show in 1999, a Raw is War in 1999, a Raw is War in 2000, a SmackDown in 2000, a Raw is War in 2001, a SmackDown in 2002, SummerSlam 2003, Judgment Day 2006, a SmackDown in 2008, Cyber Sunday 2008, a Raw in 2010 one day after WrestleMania XXVI Shawn Michaels' farewell speech, a SmackDown in 2011, a Raw in 2012 ,and on February 15, 2014, WWE Live's Road to WrestleMania. WCW held Monday Nitro in 1998 and 1999.

History[edit]

Construction of this arena began in 1990, as Suns owner Jerry Colangelo envisioned a need for a new playing facility to replace Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In 1992, the new arena was officially inaugurated with a 111–105 Suns win over the Los Angeles Clippers. After the Suns lost the NBA championship series that year, a parade that attracted more than 300,000 Suns fans made its way through downtown and finished at the new arena.[citation needed]

NHL years[edit]

When the Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise announced their intention to move to Phoenix as the Coyotes for the 1996–97 season, the arena was quickly reconfigured for hockey. Unlike most multipurpose arenas, America West Arena's sidelines were not designed with a hockey rink in mind. While its tight seating configuration suits basketball very well, it made it difficult to fit a standard NHL rink onto the floor. The lower level had to be sheared in half to fit the rink and create retractable seating.

As it turned out, the result was completely inadequate for the Coyotes. Three entire sections at one end of the ice hung over the boards, making about a quarter of the ice surface, including one net, impossible to see from these sections.[13] The problem was so serious that before the team's first season in Phoenix, the team had to curtain off some seats in the areas where the view was particularly obstructed, cutting listed capacity from around 18,000 seats to 16,210.

The Coyotes added a second video board in an area where the view was particularly obstructed, and also put up numerous proposals to improve sight lines in order to boost capacity back over the 17,000 mark. They also had to sell many obstructed-view tickets at a reduced price. In addition, an unfavorable lease caused further financial troubles that hobbled the team for much of the time the Coyotes played at US Airways Center. The Coyotes moved into an arena of their own, Jobing.com Arena located in suburban Glendale for the 2003–04 NHL season.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Condor, Bob (June 9, 1993). "Suns' Year-old Arena Colangelo's Pride And Joy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ Ballparks.com - US Airways Center
  4. ^ Joseph Denardis - Experience
  5. ^ Severud Associates - Projects
  6. ^ Flack + Kurtz Sports Experience
  7. ^ Perini Building Company - Sports Projects
  8. ^ Longo, Adam (March 8, 2013). "Questions remain about U.S. Airways Center naming rights". KPHO. Retrieved March 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ Schwartz, David (May 26, 2003). "Suns Hopes Rise With ‘Reinvented’ NBA Arena". SportsBusiness Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  10. ^ (October 27, 2003) Facelift At Arena Keeps It In Vogue
  11. ^ "Verve Energy Lounge, a chic Suns experience". Retrieved Aug 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Phoenix selected as host for 2009 NBA All-Star game". Yahoo! Sports. November 7, 2007. Retrieved November 7, 2007. 
  13. ^ Ballparks.com - Phoenix Coyotes (Past)

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Home of the
Phoenix Suns

1992–present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Arizona Rattlers

1992 – present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Phoenix Mercury

1997 – present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Phoenix RoadRunners

2005–2009
Succeeded by
folded
Preceded by
Winnipeg Arena
Home of the
Phoenix Coyotes

1996–2003
Succeeded by
Glendale Arena
Preceded by
Target Center
New Orleans Arena
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1995
2009
Succeeded by
Alamodome
Cowboys Stadium
Preceded by
Verizon Center
Host of
WWE Cyber Sunday

2008
Succeeded by
final