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HOK to lead modernisation of Gila River Arena

Global architecture and engineering firm HOK has been selected to lead the modernisation of Gila River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes, ahead of the NHL team’s departure from the venue later this year.

The Coyotes have played at Gila River Arena since 2003 but the team’s lease deal at the venue expires at the end of the 2021-22 season. The City of Glendale, which owns the 18,000-seat arena, is looking to reinvest in the facility to ensure it remains competitive without the Coyotes.

Plans have been announced by the city and arena operator ASM Global for cutting-edge technology and updated guest amenities at the venue. It is hoped the renovation will help attract high-profile national and international acts to Gila River Arena.

Gila River Arena anchors the 223-acre Westgate Entertainment District, which also houses dining, nightlife, shopping, community events, business and concerts. The wider sports and entertainment district around Westgate includes Top Golf, Desert Diamond Casino and the Crystal Lagoons Island Resort project, which is due to open in early 2023.

The next phase of the Gila River Arena renovation plans will be a kickoff meeting between the parties to establish overarching goals for the project. HOK will then develop conceptual design ideas which will be the framework for reimagining the venue.

Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps said: “We are incredibly excited about the bright future as we evolve the facility and reinvent how people experience Gila River Arena. Bringing in the expertise of an industry leader like HOK is critical for providing more opportunities for the venue to reach its full potential.

“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. 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.”

Rashed Singaby, principal senior project designer at HOK, added: “Gila River Arena has long been a vital contributor to the city of Glendale’s culture and economy. 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, which has 24 offices around the world, has previously worked with ASM Global on many other arena projects. ASM Global also manages several arenas around the US which have been renovated in recent years, including Kansas City’s T-Mobile Center, which does not have a major-league sports franchise as a tenant.

In September, the Coyotes revealed plans for a $1.7bn (£1.25bn/€1.5bn) development in the city of Tempe. The wide-ranging project would be anchored by an arena that would seat 16,000 fans. It is hoped that the Coyotes can move into the new arena by 2025 but the team is yet to be awarded a contract to proceed with the build.

The Coyotes’ relationship with the City of Glendale has become strained in recent years. Last month, the team claimed to have cleared debts that led to it being threatened with expulsion from Gila River Arena, after city officials had told the Coyotes to pay up money owed in back taxes and to ASM Global or risk being barred.

The Coyotes will require a temporary home venue, or venues, before potentially moving to Tempe. It was reported last month that the team could play home games at Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball outfit the Arizona Diamondbacks.