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Gila River Arena (originally Glendale Arena and formerly Arena) is a sports and entertainment arena in Glendale, Arizona. It is located about 12.5 miles (20.1 km) northwest of downtown Phoenix.

Gila River Arena
Gila River Arena logo.png
North Entrance, 2005
The north entrance of the arena, 2005
Gila River Arena is located in Arizona
Gila River Arena
Gila River Arena
Location in Arizona
Gila River Arena is located in the United States
Gila River Arena
Gila River Arena
Location in the United States
Former namesGlendale Arena (2003–2006) Arena (2006–2014)
Address9400 West Maryland Avenue
LocationGlendale, Arizona
Coordinates33°31′55″N 112°15′40″W / 33.53194°N 112.26111°W / 33.53194; -112.26111Coordinates: 33°31′55″N 112°15′40″W / 33.53194°N 112.26111°W / 33.53194; -112.26111
OwnerCity of Glendale
OperatorAEG Facilities [1]
CapacityHockey: 17,125
Max: 19,000
Broke groundApril 3, 2002 (2002-04-03)
OpenedDecember 26, 2003 (2003-12-26)
Construction costUS$220 million[2]
ArchitectPopulous (then HOK Sport)[3]
Project managerICON Venue Group[4]
Structural engineerJohn A. Martin & Associates, Inc.[5]
Services engineerSyska Hennessy Group, Inc.[6]
General contractorPerini Building Company[7]
Arizona Coyotes (NHL) (2003–present)
Arizona Sting (NLL) (2003–2007)
Arizona State Sun Devils men's ice hockey (NCAA) (2015–present, some games)
Arizona Rattlers (IFL) (2020)[8]
Venue Website

The Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL) have been the primary tenant since the building opened on December 26, 2003. It sits on the north side of West Maryland Avenue across from State Farm Stadium, home of the National Football League's (NFL) Arizona Cardinals. The venue anchors the City of Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District just east of Arizona Loop 101. The now-defunct Arizona Sting also had played four National Lacrosse League (NLL) seasons at the arena.

Completed at a construction cost of US$220 million, it seats 17,125 for hockey and lacrosse, 18,300 for basketball and about 19,000 for concert events. The arena has 3,075 club seats and 87 luxury suites (including two Luxury Tower Suites). It also features a completely integrated video, scoring and advertising system from Daktronics.[9]


Gila River Arena before a Coyotes game; from south end, looking north
Gila River Arena before a Coyotes game; from west side, looking east

The arena's construction broke ground on April 3, 2002 and the Coyotes moved into the arena in late 2003. After relocating from Winnipeg in 1996, the team had spent its first seven and a half seasons at America West Arena (now the Talking Stick Resort Arena) in downtown Phoenix. Although not an old arena – it had opened as the new home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns only four years earlier in 1992 – it was primarily designed for basketball and was quickly retrofitted for hockey. The arena floor was just barely large enough to fit a regulation hockey rink, and several seats on the upper level actually hung over the boards, obstructing the views for up to 3,000 spectators. As a result, before the team's second season in Phoenix, its hockey capacity had to be cut down from over 18,000 seats to just over 16,000 — the second-smallest capacity in the NHL at the time. After the Colorado Avalanche moved from McNichols Sports Arena into Pepsi Center in 1999, and the Toronto Maple Leafs moved from the Maple Leaf Gardens to Air Canada Centre later in the same season, America West Arena was the smallest NHL venue.

When the Coyotes were sold to a partnership led by Steve Ellman, that group committed to building a new arena in suburban Glendale. With agreements signed with the city of Glendale in 2001, the venue opened midway through the 2003–04 NHL season as the Glendale Arena on December 26, 2003, with the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League defeating the Vancouver Ravens, 16–12, the 2004 NLL season opener. The first NHL game was held the next evening, as the Coyotes dropped a 3–1 decision to the Nashville Predators on December 27, 2003. The Coyotes' first win at the arena came on December 31, 2003, as they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-0.

The arena was originally scheduled to receive the 2006 National Hockey League All-Star Game. However, the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement signed following the 2004–05 lockout cancelled the game, as under the terms of the new agreement, the All-Star Game would not be held during the year of the Winter Olympics in order for players to participate in the Games. Many expected Glendale to gain the 2009 NHL All-Star Game as compensation; however, the Montreal Canadiens and their arena, Bell Centre, were awarded the 2009 All-Star Game to celebrate the team's centennial.[10] Arena then was awarded the 2011 edition, but due to the ongoing bankruptcy case, potential ownership changes in the Coyotes organization, and the possibility of relocation, the NHL decided to reopen bidding to host the game, which went on to the Carolina Hurricanes' RBC Center.[11][12]

Beginning in 2005, the venue has been host to the Arizona state high school basketball, volleyball, wrestling and cheerleading tournaments in a mega-event called "February Frenzy", as the result of a formal agreement between the city of Glendale and the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).

The Arizona Sting did not play after the 2007 season and fully ceased operations in 2009.

Since 2004, the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series bull riding tour has hosted an annual event at this venue (except for 2006 when the event was held at Chase Field).

Prior to the 2009–2010 season, this was the only current NHL arena to have never hosted a playoff game, as the Coyotes' last playoff appearance was in 2002 when they still played home games in downtown Phoenix. However, the team qualified for the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, ending that drought. They played the Red Wings and lost the series 4–3. The 2010–2011 Coyotes season ended at Arena with a 4-game sweep of the Coyotes by the Detroit Red Wings.

The arena saw extra action during the 2011–12 NHL season as the Coyotes not only qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings in five games. Every home playoff game as in years past featured a "White Out", continuing the tradition of years past in both Phoenix and Winnipeg playoff series of giving fans white T-shirts to wear for the games.

The Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs during the next 3 seasons, concluding the second half of the 2014–2015 season with a NHL worst record of 8–29–4.[13] Losses mounted toward the $50 million, 5-year out clause for the Coyotes. Coyotes ownership continued to revolve, as Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway was announced as the new majority owner in December 2014, only to back out as majority owner less than 6 months later. Losses for the City of Glendale on the arena management agreement continued to run at nearly $10 million annually.[14]

On June 10, 2015, the Glendale City Council voted to terminate the arena contract with IceArizona. Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and council members Jamie Aldama, Lauren Tolmachoff, and Bart Turner cited conflict of interest laws asserted to apply to Craig Tindall, former Glendale city attorney. Tindall was hired by IceArizona about seven weeks after the city originally approved the IceArizona contract. Councilmen Samuel Chavira and Gary Sherwood opposed voiding the contract. IceArizona has threatened legal action against the city.[15][16] On July 27, a new deal was arranged where Glendale's management deal was reduced from $15 to $6.5 million per year, while the Coyotes would get all the ticket and ancillary revenue from hockey and concerts at Gila River Arena for up to two years.[17]

Naming rightsEdit

Naming rights to the arena were initially held by—a Phoenix-based employment website—under a 10-year, $30 million deal established in October 2006.[18]

On August 13, 2014, the Coyotes terminated their naming rights deal with, and announced a new nine-year naming rights and sponsorship deal with Gila River Casinos—a group of tribal casinos controlled by the Gila River Indian Community. No financial terms were announced. Team CEO Anthony LeBlanc described the new naming rights deal as the "most significant deal" made by the team under its new IceArizona ownership.[19] With the deal, the Gila River community became the first federally recognized Native American tribe to hold a naming rights deal with a venue for one of the major North American professional sports leagues.[20]

Other eventsEdit

The first musical concert at the then-Glendale Arena was by Bette Midler on February 13, 2004.[21] While the arena gets fewer events than Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Gila River Arena averages 14 non-hockey events per year.[22] During Super Bowl XLIX at nearby University of Phoenix Stadium, the Gila River Arena hosted a "Super Bowl Club" hospitality event prior to the game.[23]

In August 2016, ArenaBowl XXIX was held at Gila River Arena, between the Arizona Rattlers and Philadelphia Soul, due to conflicts with a Phoenix Mercury WNBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena.[24][25][26] In 2020 (and possibly 2021), the Rattlers (now in the Indoor Football League) will play their home games at Gila River Arena while Talking Stick Resort Arena is undergoing renovations.[8]

On September 22, 2016, the arena hosted the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.[27]


  1. ^ "Coyotes Purchased by IceArizona, Will Change Name to Arizona Coyotes After Next Season". New England Sports Network. August 5, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  2. ^ Flannery, Pat (December 27, 2003). "Today's the Day. This Is Just the Beginning: A Milestone in West Side's Rise". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  3. ^ Arena architect: Populous
  4. ^ " Arena". ICON Venue Group. December 26, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "JAMA / Sports & Recreation". John A. Martin & Associates Inc. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  6. ^ "Creating Exceptional Environments". Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  7. ^ " Arena". Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Obert, Richard (July 29, 2019). "Arizona Rattlers will play at Gila River Arena in 2020, possibly 2021". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "Daktronics Photo Gallery: Arena".
  10. ^ TSN: NHL – Canada's Sports Leader
  11. ^ McCreary, Joedy (April 8, 2010). "Carolina to host 2011 NHL All-Star game". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  12. ^ Branecky, Paul (January 21, 2010). "Canes Bidding to Host 2011 All-Star Game". National Hockey League. Archived from the original on January 27, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  13. ^ "Arizona Coyotes Schedule - 2014-15". Arizona Coyotes. 2016. Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  14. ^ Duensing, Thomas F. (June 11, 2015). "FY15-16 Arena Budget Package" (PDF). City of Glendale. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Corbett, Peter. "Glendale council votes to kill Coyotes deal". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  16. ^ Sunnucks, Mike. "Glendale votes to kill deal with Arizona Coyotes". Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  17. ^ Glendale council unanimously approves new Coyotes arena deal
  18. ^ ", Glendale Arena deal confirmed". Phoenix Business Journal. American City Business Journals. October 25, 2006. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  19. ^ "With New Naming Rights to Their Arena, Arizona Coyotes Make Economic Statement". Bleacher Report. August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  20. ^ "An Arizona tribe is going to be the first to have naming rights to a professional sports arena". Washington Post. August 14, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  21. ^ Bette Midler wows Glendale Arena crowd
  22. ^ Glendale's Gila River Arena concert attendance short of projections
  23. ^ "Super Bowl XLIX Gameday Fan Guide". NFL. February 1, 2015. Archived from the original on January 25, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  24. ^ Klapper, Clayton (August 14, 2016). "Arizona Rattlers to host ArenaBowl XXIX in Glendale on August 26". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  25. ^ Sunnucks, Mike (August 17, 2016). "Football fix: Glendale to host ArenaBowl, Cards' last practice on same day". Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  26. ^ Obert, Richard (August 17, 2016). "Rattlers expect large crowd for ArenaBowl in Glendale". Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  27. ^ "2016 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions takes center stage beginning Sept. 15". Retrieved March 26, 2019.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
America West Arena
Home of the
Arizona Coyotes

2003 – present
Succeeded by