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City of Glendale Selects HOK for Gila River Arena Modernization

GLENDALE, AZ — HOK will lead the design of the modernization of the 18,000-seat Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Owned by the city and managed by premier venue management and services company ASM Global, the 18,000-seat venue anchors the 223-acre Westgate Entertainment District.

The selection of HOK is the first step in the city’s reinvestment back into the arena, to keep it 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 has 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 said 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,” Phelps said. “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.”

Gila River Arena was built as a multipurpose facility that housed the Arizona Coyotes NHL team. The Coyotes will no longer play at the arena after the 2021-2022 season. During a 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 and 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, 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 a venue management and services company and a producer of entertainment experiences. The company’s venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 325 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 ongoing catalyst to the Westgate Entertainment District, the city, and the entire Valley.”

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ASM Global manages numerous arenas around the country that have been renovated. 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.

“Both T-Mobile Center and Gila River Arena are the vibrant hearts and anchors within their respective entertainment districts,” Steedman said. “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 an 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 that is currently under construction with an expected opening date of early 2023.

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The Westgate 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.

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