There’s been plenty of chatter about this the past year, and it’s now bubbling to the surface: a new Phoenix Suns arena is being discussed, whether it’s a new downtown facility or upgrades to US Airways Center.
Those in the know have been talking about the need for a new arena for a few years: US Airways Center opened in 1992 and, while it has been improved in recent years, is a fairly small, limited NBA facility. Despite a capacity of 18,422, the arena lacks many of the high-end amenities sports fans expect these days, and while the compact nature of the bowl makes for an intimate experience, the narrow concourses and lack of high-end group spaces limits what the Suns can do for groups. Compared to the new wave of NBA arenas, such as Orlando’s Amway Arena, and you can understand why the Suns are debating the future of their facility. From the Phoenix Business Journal:
One scenario being talked about — at least in real estate and downtown Phoenix circles — is a new arena being built where the current South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center is on Jefferson and Third streets. That is the oldest convention center building and is a block away from the Suns’ current arena.
Suns Senior Vice President Maria Baier said the talk around town about a Suns arena and the convention center scenario, is speculation.
“There’s all kinds of rumors swirling around,” Baier said. “But we’ve had no serious conversation with the city about it yet.”
The Suns have a lease for US Airways Center through 2029, so any new-arena plan would need to address the future of that facility, most likely a redevelopment of the site: there are signs of life in downtown Phoenix, and the arena’s location next to Chase Field and the light-rail line would certainly attract the attention of a developer or two.