The Arizona Coyotes hockey season kicks off at Gila River Arena at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. But before the referee can drop the puck, fans need to understand new guidelines that are in effect.
Starting this season, Gila River Arena will use Ticketmaster mobile ticketing as the primary method of entry during all events including Coyotes and Rattlers home games, concerts and family shows.
Ticketholders will need their mobile devices to present their tickets so ushers can scan them.
“PDF tickets printed off a phone will no longer be accepted,” said Dale Adams, the arena’s general manager and AEG Facilities’ vice president event development.
“They’ll have to download the Ticketmaster app and have their ticket ready prior to arriving to the arena—just like when you go to the airport.”
The technology, adopted in arenas throughout the country, also reduces the chance of fraudulent tickets, allows for convenient online transfer and resale of tickets, and provides a user-friendly platform for the online management of tickets.
Gila River Arena is now offering prepaid, premium parking through Red Carpet Row. Fans can purchase premium parking allowing them to park steps away from the arena’s doorstep. This exclusive offer includes reserved front-row parking, expressed entry into the venue via the VIP entrance, and easy entry and exit to the parking lot via an express lane. This will not be available for hockey games, however. For information, visit gilariverarena.com.
“Basically, it’s an exclusive offer for reserved, front-row parking through the VIP entrance,” he said. “We tried it last year and it went great. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to skip the lines and park close by.”
In an effort to provide a safer environment for the public and expedite fan entry into Gila River Arena, the venue has implemented the NHL policy that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into the arena. Large purses, suitcases, briefcases, laptop bags, diaper bags or backpacks of any kind are not permitted inside Gila River Arena.
Bags entering the venue must be smaller than 12 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches.
“The key thing is large purses will not be permitted,” Adams said. “This policy and the mobile ticketing program were all developed around security, and how we keep fans safe and secure. If we take care of our fans better, if everyone’s happy, their investment is protected.
We hear about different security issues. We’re trying to jump ahead. We keep track of who’s doing what around the venues, who’s entering the venues. If you look at where the venue was and what it is now, the security is so much further ahead. The Glendale Police Department does a great job helping us.”
Not all of the changes are as serious. To further enhance the fan experience at Gila River Arena, Levy restaurants is introducing a selection of new concession concepts including Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers, Brat Haus, Gadzooks and Frozen Penguin Ice Cream. The new concession stands will showcase a revitalized look and introduce menu items that incorporate locally sourced ingredients and products to create high-quality dishes signature to Arizona.
“Who doesn’t love their hamburgers?” Adams says about Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers. “Brat Haus, they’re offering an 18-inch pretzel. You could have it for three days and not eat anything else. Gadzooks is a great Mexican place. I’m excited to see how it goes now that it’s so popular. Frozen Penguin Ice Cream is great too.”
Owned by the city of Glendale and managed by AEG Facilities, Gila River Arena has a slew of special events coming up. The arena’s upcoming event calendar includes Celine Dion, Cher, Tool, Tyler, The Creator, Post Malone and Chance the Rapper.
While gearing up for another Coyotes hockey season, the arena will host the Arizona Rattlers Indoor Football League’s home games during their 2019-2020 season.
Adams said Gila River Arena has come a long way from opening season.
“Westgate used to be just a couple Sunglass Huts,” he said. “There was nothing much to it. When I’m assisting with booking the place, I sit in here and really enjoy working with all the entities who really want this place to work—from the stadium, Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa, Big Yam (Westgate’s owner) and Westgate. Everyone’s on board and sees the vision that it’s Arizona’s place for entertainment.
“This building and this whole area have turned the corner from what it was. It was negative a year ago and it’s getting better and better. Events are part of it. It’s been really fun and interesting and it’s something that has tremendous potential.”
That potential can be realized with the help of fans, stakeholders and the city, he said.
“The Coyotes are going to be better. The Cardinals are going to get getter. The city and the administration and council are fully supportive of everything here,” Adams said.
“I see it as a Phoenix rising from the ashes in ‘Harry Potter.’ Everything we tried to do wasn’t working. Now everything we do is working. Plus, there’s been an increase in population and there will be better access when the 202 opens. There are so many positive things.”