The title of the most uniquely named arena in the big four American sports changed in December 2014 when the Phoenix Suns announced the naming rights for their building had been sold to the Arizona based Talking Stick Resort Hotel and Casino. The former US Airways Center, and prior to that America West Arena, opened in 1992 at a cost of $89 million, and has been the home of the Suns for its entire operating life.
Phoenix is a packed sporting city with all four of the major professional sports having representation. Furthermore each team has their own specific stadium, so the competition as a venue for outside events is fierce. With a basketball capacity which has been downsized over time from 19,023 to 18,055, the arena has kept itself competitive by improving the overall fan experience with wider seats, better sight lines and more of the premium and club seating that fans expect when they pay top dollar.
One of the cooler features of Talking Stick Resort Arena was an add on as part of the 2003 redevelopment of the facility. The weather in Phoenix is unbearably hot in the middle of summer and generally only tolerable at other parts of the year. With this in mind owner Jerry Colangelo signed off on a $67 million upgrade which saw a 16,000 square foot air-conditioned glass-enclosed atrium built on the northwest side of the arena. The purpose of this addition was to keep people cool when they were in line to buy tickets and also to create a sense of unity by bringing people together in the arena itself before events. The idea is similar to what the Lakers did with the Staples Center.
In its relatively short history the arena has been host to many sporting events. Three games of the 1993 NBA Finals were played in the building, as were some games of the 1998, 2007 and 2009 WNBA Finals. The great Oscar de la Hoya had a number of his early career bouts at the facility, while at the other end of the spectrum Julio Cesar Chavez finished his career with a fight here. Most impressive of all though, the late Frank Sinatra performed one of his final concerts in Phoenix when the building was still known as America West Arena back in 1993.
The Suns commitment to more sustainability in their stadium was confirmed in 2012 when the then US Airlines Center opened a solar panel energy capture system which helps to power the arena. The climate in Arizona is perfect for solar energy, so the roof of the center’s parking garage became home to 966 solar panels which capture enough of the sun’s rays to power 20 game days each season. The arena also features energy efficient lighting, in-arena recycling projects and an incentive driven employee carpooling program. Little touches like this help the community feel good about the work being done at Talking Stick Resort Arena and with the Phoenix Suns by association.
image courtesy of usaairwayscenter.com