The Phoenix Suns’ home arena has been rebranded as Footprint Center as part of a wide-ranging partnership between the NBA basketball team and material science company Footprint.

As well as granting Footprint naming rights to the Suns’ arena, the deal will include product integration and seek to raise awareness of plant-based fibre alternatives to plastic. It is hoped the partnership can lead to Footprint Center becoming a carbon-neutral, plastic-free arena.

Talking Stick Resort had previously held naming rights to the arena but its deal with the Suns ended last year. Since then, the venue had been known simply as Phoenix Suns Arena before the new name was announced on Friday.

As part of the agreement, fans attending Footprint Center for Suns or Phoenix Mercury WNBA games, as well as concerts and shows, will be served food in Footprint’s biodegradable, compostable and recyclable solutions.

Educational points about the positive impact of switching from single-use plastics will also be communicated to fans. The Suns said that Footprint Center will also become an “immersive innovation lab” for fans, partners and like-minded venue operators.

Footprint will take its food and beverage solutions and a team of dedicated experts to the arena to help it transition to being a carbon-neutral and plastic-free venue. Footprint will work with the Suns to forge solutions that can be scaled outside of the arena and across the industry.

The Suns will replace single-use plastic items such as plates, packaging, utensils and coolers with Footprint’s innovative plant-based technologies. The arena will also feature recycling and compost containers instead of trash cans.

The long-term deal also incorporates Spanish Segunda División football club Real Mallorca. Both the Suns and Real Mallorca are owned by Robert Sarver.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Footprint to reduce the arena’s dependency on single and short-term use plastics by making Footprint Center a hub for sustainable products and packaging,” said Sarver.

“It was important to us to find a partner that could truly make a positive impact in our community and on the planet, and Footprint is a global leader that is also Arizona-based and therefore shares our commitment to the Valley. Integrating Footprint’s plant-based fibre technology into our core business functions will mobilise partners and fans to drive collective and systemic change, in our arena and beyond.”

Troy Swope, chief executive of Footprint, added: “We have a unique opportunity with the Suns, Mercury and Real Mallorca to transform sports and entertainment experiences where fans can enjoy their food and drinks in sustainable packaging and learn more about how they can make changes in their daily lives to get rid of single-use plastics.

“Together we’ll create a living innovation lab of new ideas for consumer feedback, new opportunities for our customers, and we can educate fans in a way that will create a ripple effect outside the arena. Today is just the beginning.”

The Suns and Footprint are inviting third-party vendors and suppliers to apply to help eradicate single- and short-term use plastics at the arena.

Image: Phoenix Suns