US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) is a sports and entertainment arena located in 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, the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League, and the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL
The arena, which is situated down the street from Chase Field, is named after its sponsor, US Airways, under a naming rights arrangement. After America West's merger with US Airways, it was announced that America West Arena would be renamed to US Airways Center on November 14, 2005 with the name change taking place in January 2006.
The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL once called the US Airways Center home, starting with their move to Phoenix in 1996, and up until 2003, when they moved to Jobing.com 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."
Capacity for basketball was originally 19,023, but was downsized in recent years 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 basketball's version of the shot heard around the world, were played there, as was one of the three 1998 WNBA finals games and two ArenaBowl games. In 1997, the Rattlers won ArenaBowl XI at America West Arena. The NBA All-Star Game was played in the arena in 1995, and the arena has been named as the location for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.
In 2003 the US Airways Center hosted WWE SummerSlam and WWE Judgment Day in 2006. It is set to host WWE Cyber Sunday in 2008. In addition to sports events, many famous singers and musical acts, such as AC/DC, Tim McGraw, Van Halen, Laura Pausini, Bon Jovi, Beyoncé Knowles, Destiny's Child, Chris Brown, Puff Daddy, Janet Jackson, dc Talk, Shakira, Sarah Brightman, Metallica, Barbra Streisand, Vikki Carr, Amy Grant, Britney Spears, REO Speedwagon, *NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Green Day, Blink 182, Gwen Stefani, Cher, Vicente Fernandez, Maná and others have performed at the arena. Oscar de la Hoya had one of his first professional boxing bouts (versus Narciso Valenzuela) there, and Michael Carbajal also fought there various times.
However, unlike most arenas built since the 1960s, it was not designed with a hockey rink in mind. The floor was just barely large enough to fit a regulation-size hockey rink. The building's sight lines, particularly in the upper deck, had been designed for the much smaller basketball floor. As a result, several thousand seats had badly obstructed views. For example, about a fourth of the ice (including one of the nets) couldn't be seen from four sections of the lower level and 10 sections of the upper level on the south end. Several fans claimed to have seen areas where the original concrete had been sheared off to create retractable seating for hockey.
The problem was so serious that, by the Coyotes' second season in Phoenix, the team had to curtain off some seats in the areas where the net couldn't be seen, cutting listed capacity from over 18,000 seats to just over 16,000. Even then, the setup was completely inadequate for the Coyotes. A small section of seats in the lower level actually hung over the boards, obstructing the view from over 3,000 seats. They also had to sell many obstructed-view tickets at a reduced price. In addition, an unfavorable lease caused financial troubles from which the franchise has never really recovered.
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. However, none of these plans worked, and they moved into an arena of their own, Jobing.com Arena located in suburban Glendale for the 2003-04 NHL season.
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