The city of Glendale recently announced that global architectural and engineering firm HOK has been selected to lead the modernization of Gila River Arena. Owned by the City and managed by ASM Global, the premier venue management and services company, the 18,000-seat venue anchors the 223-acre Westgate Entertainment District.
The selection of HOK, which has 24 offices around the globe, is the first step in the City’s re-investment back into the arena, to keep the arena competitive for the next 20 years. The entertainment industry has changed dramatically since Gila River Arena opened its doors in 2003. The renovations will modernize the facility, ensuring that it’s a world-class venue of choice with cutting-edge technology and updated guest amenities
“We are incredibly excited about the bright future as we evolve the facility and reinvent how people experience Gila River Arena,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps. “Bringing in the expertise of an industry leader like HOK is critical for providing more opportunities for the venue to reach its full potential.”
Phelps says the modernization will position Glendale to attract high-profile national and international acts.
“Our work together with ASM Global and HOK will help define the next generation of entertainment experiences in Glendale as we serve our community, region and visitors,” said Phelps. “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.”
HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Its Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice specializes in the design of arenas, stadiums, ballparks, training facilities and entertainment centers. HOK has been responsible for some of the most significant venue innovations in the sports, entertainment and hospitality industries.
Gila River Arena was built as a multipurpose facility which housed the Arizona Coyotes NHL team. The Coyotes will no longer play at the arena after their season ends this year. During a rigorous and competitive selection process, HOK demonstrated that it is both creatively and technically adept to achieve Glendale’s goal of reimagining the arena once it no longer serves as a hockey venue.
“Gila River Arena has long been a vital contributor to the city of Glendale’s culture and economy,” said Rashed Singaby, Principal Senior Project Designer at HOK. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with the City and ASM Global to reimagine the arena for future fans and spectators while ensuring it remains a vibrant entertainment destination for the region.”
HOK has a track record of taking existing facilities and transforming them with a ‘wow’ factor, while incorporating current and future thinking around the guest experience, fan amenities, back of house infrastructure and food and beverage options.
The City’s partner, ASM Global is the premier venue management and services company and the world’s leading producer of entertainment experiences. The global leader in venue and event strategy and management, the company’s elite venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 325 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibit centers, and performing arts venues.
“ASM Global is pleased to have HOK leading the architectural vision for this project,” said Chuck Steedman, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Development for ASM Global. “We have worked with HOK on many other arena projects, so we know they bring the expertise and share Glendale’s vision for the arena as a premier destination for live entertainment in the metropolitan area. We know HOK can deliver a world-class design for the City, allowing the arena to provide a tremendous and on-going catalyst to the Westgate Entertainment District, the City and the entire Valley.”
ASM Global manages numerous arenas around the country which have been renovated and are very successful and profitable. This includes venues focused primarily on concerts and events, like T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, located in the Power & Light Entertainment District. Together with ASM Global, HOK was part of the Downtown Arena Design team, serving as one of the lead architectural firms for T-Mobile Center in 2007. The venue was a key component in the transformation of Kansas City’s downtown, which is now a destination for visitors and point of pride for the City.
“Both T-Mobile Center and Gila River Arena are the vibrant hearts and anchors within their respective entertainment districts,” said Chuck Steedman. “Even without a professional sports franchise anchor tenant, the T-Mobile Center is thriving and attracting the biggest live entertainment and concerts in the world.”
Westgate Entertainment District developed around the arena after it was built and has grown into a premier entertainment destination in the West Valley. It is a place where people come together for dining, nightlife, shopping, community events, business, concerts, sporting events and more.
“The city of Glendale has been a great partner for Westgate and we support its decision to take the arena in an exciting new direction,” said Dan Dahl, YAM Properties Director of Real Estate. “At its core, Westgate is an entertainment district, and we strive to bring a versatile mix of shopping, dining and experiential tenants into the center. Among others, in 2022 we will welcome PopStroke, a golf-entertainment concept featuring a 36-hole putting facility, and a Thirsty Lion gastropub to Westgate’s lineup.”
The greater sports and entertainment district around Westgate continues to boom and includes Top Golf, Desert Diamond Casino and the Crystal Lagoons Island Resort project which is currently under construction with an expected opening date of early 2023.
The Sports and Entertainment District is already the biggest in the state of Arizona. The Gila River Arena modernization project demonstrates that Glendale will continue its investment in the area, helping it realize its potential to be the biggest in the Southwest.
The next step will be a kickoff meeting between the parties to establish overarching project goals. HOK will then develop conceptual design ideas which will be the framework for reimaging the venue, enhancing it for live entertainment experiences and profitability for decades to come.