Talking Stick Resort Arena Timeline
1987 – After leading a group of investors in the purchase of the Phoenix Suns franchise, Jerry Colangelo immediately turned the organization’s focus toward building a new facility in downtown Phoenix.
August 1, 1990 – Ground was broken on what was originally named America West Arena. When it was completed, the building was 1-million square feet and sat on an 11-acre site. Capacity for concerts was originally 19,023 for basketball games. Currently, Talking Stick Resort Arena seats 18,422 for basketball games.
June 6, 1992 – The $89 million America West Arena opened its doors to the public for a concert by country superstar George Strait. A summer-long grand opening ensued, with sports and entertainment events occurring at the arena regularly. In the first year, more than 170 events were held at the arena – including Suns games, Arizona Rattlers football games, Phoenix Smash home tennis matches, concerts, family shows and ice events.
June 10, 1992 – AWA hosted heavy metal’s biggest act, Metallica, on the heels of the band’s landmark release of The Black Album.
June 13, 1992 – The Arizona Rattlers make their home debut, defeating the Sacramento Attack, 51-36, before a sellout crowd of 15,505 in the America West Arena.
July 19, 1992 – One of country music’s largest acts ever, Garth Brooks, graced the stage at America West Arena.
July 24, 1992 – Wrestling’s biggest show – then named the World Wrestling Federation – came to the arena for the first time, marking the beginning of a long-term relationship between the venue and this particular brand of wrestling.
October 2, 1992 – New Jersey’s favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, brought his show to the arena.
October 15, 1992 – The headliners playing America West Arena continued to come through, as the always-popular Neil Diamond played a set.
November 7, 1992 – The Phoenix Suns unveiled their new arena and their new star – power forward Charles Barkley – in the first regular season game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns won the game 111-105, and a special season was embarked upon.
January 16, 1993 – For the first of many times, the Harlem Globetrotters entertained the masses at the arena.
April 30, 1993 – America West Arena hosted its first playoff game, but the Suns dropped the first two games at home against the rival Los Angeles Lakers. It led to the now-familiar postgame speech from Head Coach Paul Westphal, in which he outlined how the team was going to come back and win the series.
May 9, 1993 – The arena hosted its first playoff victory, as the Suns proved Westphal right and completed the first-round comeback against the Lakers in this 112-104.
June 26, 1993 – Despite the Suns losing the NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the city of Phoenix came out in mass on this day to celebrate the successful season. The parade attracted 300,000 people as it weaved through downtown and finished at the arena.
July 29, 1993 – Another of Rock & Roll’s headliners, Aerosmith, was the main act at America West Arena.
December 10, 1993 – Iconic singer Frank Sinatra graced the stage at the arena performing songs like “My Kind of Town,” “Chicago,” “New York, New York” and “For Once In My Life.” A year later, Sinatra performed his final public concerts in Japan, and performed live for the last time at his birthday party in 1995 – when he turned 80.
January 25, 1994 – Showcasing the wide variety of entertainment available at the arena, Disney On Ice performed for the first time at the downtown Phoenix location.
April 18, 1994 – Iconic R&B singer Janet Jackson brought her talents to the arena.
August 23, 1994 – Near the peak of her popularity, Whitney Houston performed at America West Arena. Her breakthrough movie, The Bodyguard, was released just two years prior to this performance.
September 17, 1995 – One of boxing’s greatest fighters – and perhaps the greatest Mexican boxer of all time – Julio Cesar Chavez had one of his fights in Phoenix.
February 12, 1995 – The NBA’s 45th All-Star Game was held at America West Arena, and Sacramento’s Mitch Richmond was named MVP after the West won 139-112. Charles Barkley and Dan Majerle were the Suns’ two All-Star representatives, and they had 15 and 10 points respectively.
August 25, 1997 – The Arizona Rattlers hosted and won the 11th ArenaBowl at the arena. The Rattlers defeated the Iowa Barnstormers 55-33. It was the second championship for the team, but this was the first one that took place on home turf at America West Arena. In 1994, the Rattlers won the final game of the year in Orlando against the higher-seeded Predators.
August 27, 1998 – In the WNBA’s second season, the Phoenix Mercury hosted the first game of the WNBA Finals. Following a 54-51 victory in Game 1 at America West Arena, the Mercury couldn’t win either of the next two in Houston and lost the series.
September 7, 1998 – One of hip hop’s most memorable triumvirates, The Beastie Boys, played to a packed house at America West Arena.
July 17, 2000 – The arena hosted the WNBA All-Star Game, which featured Phoenix’s Brandy Reed. The West won 73-61 behind the effort of stars like Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper.
April 18, 2001 – One of the largest Rock bands in the world, U2, played America West Arena. The group belted out 21 songs at this concert, and later returned to the arena for another concert on November 23 of the same year. U2 was touring following the release of the hit album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.”
November, 2001 – The first phase of renovations to America West Arena was completed nine years after the building opened. The phase cost $15 million to widen the interior concourses, rebuild concession stands, add rest rooms, change flooring, update the signage and other finishes. Also, a 1,400-seat private club was created.
April 19, 2002 – Two of the best bands in modern rock history, Blink 182 and Green Day, both performed at the arena.
October, 2002 – The second phase of construction was completed, with glass walls constructed to push out the exterior of the building on the north and east sides. But that wasn’t all, as what is now the Coors Light Cold Zone – where the pre and post-game shows are broadcasted – was constructed, along with an Italian restaurant, patio seating, an expanded team store and a Starbucks.
October 29, 2002 – Rock royalty was on hand for a performance at America West Arena, as the crowd was wowed by one Paul McCartney.
January 30, 2003 – The self-proclaimed “Greatest Rock & Roll Band In the World,” the Rolling Stones, played hits like “Start Me Up,” “Satisfaction” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
March, 2003 (Estimate from SBJ article) – The final phase of construction was finished, with a brand new 16,000-square foot glass-enclosed atrium built on the northwest side of the arena. That part of the building is where tickets are retrieved and people enter for events and games. Total costs for the renovations reached $67 million.
July 21, 2003 – One of the more noteworthy British blues bands, Fleetwood Mac, stopped by America West Arena for a show.
July 28, 2003 – In the early 2000’s, there were few rappers more popular and successful than 50 Cent, and he made his way for this show at the arena.
September 28, 2005 – Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl found a second life in Rock & Roll with his band Foo Fighters, which he plays guitar and sings for. That band played at the arena on the back of the album “In Your Honor.”
November 14, 2005 – It was announced that the naming rights for the building was going to change. Starting in January of 2006, the America West Arena became what it’s known as today – Talking Stick Resort Arena.
August 24, 2007 – Beyonce Knowles came to the center during her tour titled The Beyonce Experience, which totaled more than 90 venues worldwide.
September 13, 2007 – After falling behind in the WNBA Finals after both Game 1 and Game 3, the Mercury won this one-point game at Talking Stick Resort Arena to even the series again and reclaim momentum. The team then went on the road a game later and won easily, and the Mercury had won its first championship in team history under the direction of Head Coach Paul Westhead.
April 15, 2008 – Rap legend and husband to Beyonce, Jay Z played before the crowd at the center. His most recent album, at the time, was American Gangster.
February 15, 2009 – The Suns were represented by Shaquille O’Neal and Amar’e Stoudemire when Phoenix hosted the NBA All-Star Game for the third time in the team’s history. Western Conference players could boast afterward, too, since they defeated the Eastern Conference 146-119.
October 9, 2009 – For the second time in franchise history, the Mercury won Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. Star forward Diana Taurasi led the way for the team with 26 points in the team’s 94-86 victory, and unlike 2007 the team’s fans were able to celebrate the clinching win in person at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
April 21, 2010 – Whimsically calling it the Eagles’ “Assisted-Living Tour” during the concert in Phoenix, one of rock’s greatest acts continued to show why interest was so high in the 39-year-old band.
August 12, 2010 – Capitalizing on the popularity of the reality show, American Idol Live! came to USAC with the top 10 contestants from that season’s show on display.
October 7, 2010 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have taken to the stage at Talking Stick Resort Arena twice, once in 1999 and then again more than a decade later. This concert came after the release of the band’s 12th studio album, Mojo.
March 26, 2011 – Never lacking buzz, Lady Gaga brought her Monster Ball Tour to Phoenix for this concert.
March 24, 2012 – Since 1999, the NCAA has utilized USAC as a site for the Men’s Basketball Tournament. In 2012, the West Regional was completed in Phoenix, as Louisville made its way to the Final Four.
July 15, 2012 - For the first time ever, WWE superstar John Cena competes in a "Money in the Bank" match, as the WWE returned to Talking Stick Resort Arena.
August 10, 2012 - Playing at Talking Stick Resort Arena during the regular season, the National Conference champion Arizona Rattlers defeated the American Conference champion, Philadelphia Soul, 72–54, in New Orleans. It was the first ArenaBowl at a neutral site since ArenaBowl XXII in 2008.The
November 25, 2012 - Rush returned in spectacular fashion to USAC. With more than 40 million records sold worldwide and countless sold-out tours, Rush – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – is not only one of the most inventive and compelling groups in rock history, but remains one of the most relevant.
January 27, 2013 - The WWE - and the most electrifying man in all of entertainment, The Rock - finally came back to Phoenix for the 26th annual Royal Rumble, in Phoenix for the first time.
February 13, 2013 - P!nk, Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and pop culture icon, began her first tour in over four years which opened at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
August 17, 2013 - After a stellar regular season record at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the National Conference champion Arizona Rattlers defeated the American Conference champion Philadelphia Soul, 48–39. The game was played on August 17, 2013 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, home of the Orlando Predators
August 30, 2013 - Following the overwhelming response to the initial announcement of just four tour dates, BLACK SABBATH went on a full 20-city North American trek including a stop at USAC.
December 2, 2013 - One of this generation’s most-celebrated entertainers, Justin Timberlake, returned to Talking Stick Resort Arena as part of The 20/20 Experience World Tour.
February 7, 2014 - Musical icon George Strait was in Phoenix at Talking Stick Resort Arena for a special show with Martina McBride on the second leg of his final two-year tour – The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.
March 22, 2014 - The one and only Cher kicked off her “Dressed To Kill” 49-city North American Tour in Phoenix at Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 22, 2014 with stops in NY, LA, Boston, Las Vegas, and other major markets.
June 1, 2014 - This performance from Billy Joel’s first solo headlining appearance in the market in eight years also marked his 6th ever performance at Talking Stick Resort Arena -- which earned him the honor of being the first-ever inductee as a Talking Stick Resort Arena Entertainment Legend.
July 19, 2014 - Over 13,000 fans packed Talking Stick Resort Arena for the WNBA All-Star game which is widely considered to be the greatest WNBA All-Star game in history.
August 12, 2014 - Following an incredible 2013 which saw Paul McCartney’s universally acclaimed Out There tour launch in Brazil and visit 23 cities across South America, Europe, North America and Japan, Paul returned to Phoenix on the 2014 U.S. Out There tour on August 12, 2014.
August 23, 2014 - After an undefeated season at home in Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Rattlers defeated the American Conference champion Cleveland Gladiators, 72–32. The game was played at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rattlers came into the game as the two-time defending champions, appearing in their fourth consecutive ArenaBowl, and ninth overall.
September 12, 2014 - Although it was won in Chicago, the Mercury posted an overall home record of 21-1 in 2014 and ended the season winning 20 consecutive games at Talking Stick Resort Arena (5-0 in the postseason) en route to their third WNBA Championship.