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Jun 25, 2012

Opening US Airways Center


By Ralph Marchetta
GM of Sports & Entertainment Services & Sr. VP of Ticket Operations for US Airways Center
Posted: June 25, 2012

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since we first opened the doors of US Airways Center.

I’ll never forget the weeks leading up to the grand opening. They were some of the most chaotic, yet rewarding of my career. I had just been hired as the Events Manager in March 1992, three months before we would host our first event, and there was still so much to do.

Thankfully, I had worked at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum previously, so I had some experience. But we had to, literally, start from scratch, hiring ushers, ticket takers and security, implementing policies and procedures.

We probably had six or seven concerts that went on sale before we even had seats in the building. So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of scrambling going on, as we were still trying to familiarize ourselves with the new facility and configurations.

We weren’t even done painting when we opened the doors for a George Strait concert on June 6, 1992. In fact, there was still construction going on for probably six months after we opened. So those first few months were exciting, crazy and a little stressful. There were a lot of long-hours and long nights, but it was completely worth it. It was an incredible experience and I’m glad I did it. I’m also glad I did it at the age of 27 instead of 47.

The goal, of course, is to always be prepared, but I don’t think anyone could be entirely prepared for the challenge that was opening the then-named America West Arena, which would become the centerpiece to a revitalized downtown Phoenix.