The NBA’s Phoenix Suns have labeled the $230 million renovation and expansion of this sports and entertainment venue, which opened in 1992, “Project 201: PHX Reimagined.”
The challenge was to transform a compact facility with low ceilings, tight concourses, a shortage of amenities (compared to current standards) and an aging infrastructure into an ultra-modern arena that provides an exceptional experience for all fans.
“A lot of great things have happened here, and over the years the city has embraced the building and site,” said HOK Design Principal Bill Johnson, FAIA, who also worked on the design of the original America West Arena that opened in 1992. “We wanted to keep its essence while bringing it up to the level of a new venue that provides an amazing experience for all fans.”
Even though the 600,000-sq-ft facility, now called Footprint Center, has been figuratively dark during the coronavirus outbreak, its interior has bustled with construction activity as contractors implement a $230-million renovation that will transform one of the National Basketball Association’s oldest and smallest venues into one of its most modern.
A joint venture of the city and the Suns, the project combines extensive building infrastructure upgrades with new and enhanced amenities aimed at boosting the fan experience, including new seating and social areas, renovated clubs and suites, technology-rich videoboards and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
“Young people don’t mind spending more for amenities, but they expect an entire event experience,” Johnson said. “Because the building is being asked to do more, you need to build in more flexibility.”
The Phoenix Suns sit poised—when the pandemic allows—to welcome fans into an almost entirely remade Phoenix Suns Arena, complete with nearly 70,000 square feet of new fan amenity space, the state’s largest sports bar and fan-focused features throughout.
The renovation is about more than VIP experiences. The old arena entrance moved farther out and opened up space for a new pavilion with 7,000 square feet of LED video screens and the largest sports bar in Arizona at 60 feet in length, available to all ticket holders.
Johnson calls the pavilion a huge transformational moment, from the massive centralized bar to the video displays programmable to match any activity in the venue. “I think a lot of little things come together to make the whole experience really unique,” Johnson said.
Editor’s note: Footprint Center was previously named Phoenix Suns Arena.