- Lloyd Brown
Footprint Center – Phoenix Suns
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Footprint Center 201 E Jefferson St Phoenix, AZ 85004
Year Opened: 1992 Capacity: 18,422
House Of The Rising Suns
The Phoenix Suns and the Footprint Center recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary as the outpost for NBA basketball in the Southwest. The facility opened in 1992 as the America West Arena and has gone through numerous name changes over the years. It became the Footprint Center in 2022. The arena holds 17,071 in its basketball setting.
The Footprint Center hosts a wide variety of events in addition to the Sun's games. It serves as the host facility for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League (IFL). It has also hosted boxing matches, rodeo competitions, UFC events, WWE events, and music concerts, featuring such stars as Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, and Elton John.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and beverage program at the Footprint Center also benefitted from the recent renovations. Many have relocated to the Eatery food court area of the arena. The Footprint Center also has diversified the food selection available at Suns games.
Grab and Go – Standard stadium favorites including hamburgers, hot dogs ($7.99) chicken tenders ($13.49), a popcorn bucket ($15.99), and sodas ($9.99)
Gorilla Grill – Gorilla Burger w/fries ($17.49), Footprint Burger w/fries ($12.49), Suns Hot Chicken ($14.99) and Chicken Tenders w fries ($13.49). The Gorilla Grill was by far the most popular concession stand during our visit. It is in The Eatery food court at the arena.
Tostitos Cantina - Doritos Nachos walking taco ($15.99), Frito scoops Walking Taco ($15.99).
Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers – Full Court Hot Dog ($13.49), All Beef Suns Dog ($7.99), Beer Brats ($10.49) and a Popcorn Bucket ($15.99).
Dos Equis Beer Garden - Craft beers ($14.99), draft beers ($14.99). The Beer Garden is located on an outdoor patio that can only be accessed from inside the arena.
Beverages sold at the Footprint Center include Coca-Cola brand sodas including souvenir cup sodas ($9.99), fountain sodas ($7.49), lemonade ($7.49), and bottled water ($7.49). Adult beverages include Souvenir Cup drafts ($17.49), Premium drafts ($14.99), Domestic cans ($14.49), Premium cans ($15.99), and seltzers ($15.49).
The Footprint Center underwent a $245 million renovation in 2019-2020, which has greatly enhanced the atmosphere at Suns games. These upgrades touched nearly aspect of the fan experience. The lobby added new space to allow fans a more roomy experience when they arrived at games, and concourses were widened and made open to the court so that fans did not encounter any bottlenecks or miss any of the game while standing in a line at the concession stand. An 8,500-square-foot LED board was added to the lobby, and it provides fans with game statistics and information on upcoming events.
The concourse features wall displays outlining the career highlights of Suns elite players Kevin Johnson, Paul Westphal, and Dan Majerle.
The electronics package inside the seating bowl was enhanced with new ribbon boards and a larger video board ( six times larger than its predecessor) over the court. Theater-style lighting is used once the game gets underway.
All seats within the seating bowl were updated to enhance fan comfort.
The Footprint Center is in the Legends Entertainment District in downtown Phoenix. The district includes the major sports and entertainment venues for the city, including the Footprint Center (Suns, Mercury, Rattlers), Chase Field (Diamondbacks), Cityscape, the Collier Center, Symphony Hall, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Phoenix Convention Center. The District is also known for its great selection of restaurants, including Majerle’s, which is owned by a former Sun, Dan Majerle. The closest hotel to the Footprint Center is the Residence Inn Phoenix Downtown.
In a city with multiple major league sports teams, the Suns have by far the most loyal and vocal fan base. The arena seating bowl is filled with fans wearing the purple and orange colors of the Suns. They arrive early and even cheer nice shots by the Suns during the warmups.
Once the game starts, the fans act as the “sixth man”, creating as much noise as possible when the Suns are on defense or the visitors are at the foul line. They also coordinate their activity with the Sun's Gorilla, who has an array of signs that he displays, leading the fans in a variety of cheers.
The Suns have been in the playoffs on a regular basis in recent seasons. Even though the Suns may not have the “star” power courtside of their neighbors in Los Angles, the locals provide the “Sun Power” to guide their team to victory.
The Footprint Center is easily reached by car or public transportation. It is located close to many of the main highways in the Phoenix area. It has a 700-car garage on South Fourth Street. There is also a garage on South Fourth Street. The rideshare area for pickup and delivery is located at the Footprint Center Plaza (corner of First Street and Jefferson Street.)
Valley Metro, the Phoenix area transit provider, provides a very attractive and cost-efficient alternative for fans going to the Footprint Center. Your game ticket serves as your free ride passes on the light rail system (must be used on the day of the game). Take the train to either the Third Street/Washington or the Third Street/Jefferson Station.
The Footprint Center doors open 90 minutes prior to tipoff, leaving you plenty of time to get to your seats. Both the lobby and the concourses are easy to navigate due to recent renovations.
Return on Investment 3
Going to a Suns game can be a very expensive proposition for a family of four. Seats are available at several price points. The cheapest tickets are $27 (behind the basket in the upper level of the seating bowl). Tickets along the sides of the court are $32 on the upper level or $133 on the lower level. Center court seats on the upper level are $40, while lower-level midcourt seats are $299. These are standard ticket prices… not resale prices.
The concession stand prices are also high, even by NBA standards.
Parking is $25 prepaid at the garage on Fourth Street or $20 prepaid for the parking lot on Third Street.
The Footprint Center hosted the NBA Finals in 1993, as well as the NBA All-Star game in 1995 and 2009.
The Footprint Center and the resident teams are committed to making the facility as “green” as possible. Steps have included eliminating plastic wherever possible in its concession stands. This has been achieved through the use of paper where possible, and bamboo or fiber cutlery is now in use. The venue also encourages fans to use public transportation or bicycle to get to games.
The Phoenix Suns Gorilla is a legend within the world of sports mascots. He was the first mascot inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, and he has entertained Suns fans since 1980. He is especially known for his dunking ability.
The rafters are filled with banners denoting championship seasons for the Suns, as well as the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) and the Arizona Rattlers (Arena Football League).
A trip to the newly renovated Footprint Center provides a much-improved fan experience for the Suns faithful. They can relax in the new seats that have been installed while keeping up with the game stats via the new video board and end zone displays. The one thing that remains the same is the antics of the Sun's Gorilla, one of the NBA’s top mascots.