US Airways Center
The Purple Palace, The Snake Pit
Former namesAmerica West Arena (1992–2006)
Location201 East Jefferson
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Broke groundAugust 1, 1990[1]
OpenedJune 6, 1992
OwnerCity of Phoenix
OperatorPhoenix Arena Development, L.P.
Construction cost$90 million
($141 million in 2020 dollars[2]

2001–04 renovations: $67 million
($77.9 million in 2020 dollars
ArchitectEllerbe Becket
Project ManagerHuber, Hunt & Nichols[3]
Structural engineerHorst Berger[4]/Severud[5]
Services engineerFlack + Kurtz[6]
General ContractorPerini Building Company[7]
CapacityBasketball: 19,023 (1992–2003), 18,422 (2003–present)
Ice hockey: 16,210
Arena football: 15,505
Phoenix Suns (NBA) (1992–present)
Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) (1997–present)
Arizona Rattlers (AFL) (1987–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)
File:US Airways Center satellite view.png

US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) is a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It opened in 1992, and is the home of the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association, the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.

The arena, which is situated near Chase Field, is named after its sponsor, US Airways, which took over the name after absorbing previous sponsor America West.

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 Arena would open and take event dates from America West Arena.[8] The idea to remake the arena came to Jerry Colangelo when he visited Staples Center, and envisioned a similar entertainment district in Phoenix.[9]

Sports teams and eventsEdit

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 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 in 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.[10]

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 Arena).

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

Lady Gaga performed The Monster Ball here on July 31, 2010 and March 26, 2011. She is scheduled to perform the Born This Way Ball here on January 23, 2013.

American singer/songwriter, Madonna performed at the arena on October 16, 2012 on her MDNA Tour.

P!nk's Truth About Love Tour is set to kick off at the arena on February 13, 2013.


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 yearsEdit

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 sightlines 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. Most notably, a section of seats in the upper level actually hung over the boards, obstructing the view from over 3,000 seats. In those areas, a good chunk of the view from beyond the top of the face-off circle was cut off.[11] 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, Arena located in suburban Glendale for the 2003–04 NHL season. However, the 2004–2005 lockout and continued poor attendance and some of the lowest ticket prices in the NHL resulted in continuing financial difficulties after moving to Glendale. Ultimately the Coyotes were forced into bankruptcy in 2009. The Coyotes were purchased by the NHL, who was unable to find an ownership group to keep the Coyotes in Glendale. Discussions continue as of mid-2011 on keeping the Coyotes in the Phoenix metro area.


External linksEdit

Events and tenants
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Arizona Rattlers

1992 – present
Succeeded by

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