From its planning inception in 1988 and eventual opening in June of 1992, US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena, as of January 6, 2006) was the benchmark for other cities and other sports facilities.
Its design boasted innovations that had not been seen in arenas of its day including multi-story suite levels, attached premium parking facilities, and integrated team practice facility. Both public and private critics saw US Airways Center as a catalytic project capable of stimulating urban growth.
In its ﬁrst full year of operation, the arena received every award a new venue of its kind was afforded, including Best New Concert Venue by Performance Magazine and Best NBA Facility by acclaim of those who know best, the players themselves.
Through the course of the ’90s, new facilities around the country followed the example of US Airways Center and new projects sprung up in nearly all the major western state metropolitan areas: Denver, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City and in 1999, Los Angeles and Dallas with dramatic new STAPLES Center and American Airlines Center. Technology changed, entertainment options proliferated and the city’s emerging new downtown continued to evolve in positive ways.
The US Airways Center completed a major $70 million expansion and improvement project in 2004. Gone is the block exterior, replaced with soaring glass walls. The outdoor ticket ofﬁce is now enclosed inside the new 14,000 square foot Casino Arizona Pavilion, serving as a grand entrance highlighted by a 12 × 20 foot video wall. On the east side, the Coors Light Cold Zone is a ﬂexible outdoor entertainment venue covered by a football ﬁeld-length canopy featuring state-of-the-art sound and video projection systems, as well as the stylish Coors Light Cold Zone bar area and facilities that double as television studio facilities for Suns telecasts and a performance stage for music events.
Other improvements include new technology installed in the bowl including a 900-foot LED ribbon, a center-hung scoreboard with HDTV screens, a new sound system, a new Courtside Club, Blue Moon Club and Verve Energy Lounge nightclub, and the APS Gorilla Greenhouse, a 7,000 square foot family friendly active home to the Phoenix Suns Gorilla. At street level the US Airways Center now features a Starbucks, an expanded Team Shop and the Blue Moon Club.