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With Coyotes departing, Glendale plans Gila River Arena makeover

Gila River Arena

With the Arizona Coyotes departing for who knows where at the end of this NHL season, the city of Glendale and facilities manager ASM Global are launching a Gila River Arena makeover to support a wider range of events.

You know the backstory: Glendale and ASM broke ties with the Coyotes after several instances of late rent and other payments, with the fan to focus less on sports and more on bigger events like concerts. And while we don’t yet have a temporary home for the Coyotes–the team has pitched a new Tempe entertainment district anchored by a new arena, which is currently under scrutiny by city officials–Glendale are moving on by bringing in HOK to map arena upgrades to support more events.

“We are incredibly excited about the bright future as we look to how we evolve the facility and reinvent how people experience Gila River Arena,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps via press release. “Bringing in the expertise of an industry leader like HOK is critical for providing more opportunities for the venue to reach its full potential.

“Our work together with ASM Global’s design team and HOK will help define the next generation of entertainment experiences in Glendale as we serve our community, region and visitors. We know that if we do it right, we can create a highly integrated venue that will make waves in the marketplace, exceeding performer and spectator expectations.”

It’s a modernization that is probably overdue: Gila River Arena opened in 2003, and since then the arena experience has been dramatically upgraded. You can’t find a better example that across town, with the Phoenix Suns (NBA) overhauling Footprint Center with a $230-million renovation, with plenty of new social spaces, high-end lounges, high-def displays and upgraded seating. Look for a more modest renovation with reconfigured suite spaces, new social spaces, flexible spaces to allow smaller events and a varied menu of group areas. The two-year project is expected to cost between $40 million and $50 million.

Photo courtesy Gila River Arena.

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