Super Bowl XLIX

Visitors for Super Bowl LVII in 2023 will see a very different Sports and Entertainment District than they saw in 2015, when Glendale last hosted the big game.

While the rest of the country focuses on Super Bowl LV, where veteran Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers will duel rising superstar Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, local leaders are looking far downfield — to when the big game returns to Glendale.

Super Bowl LVII is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2023, at State Farm Stadium. This will be the third time the city has hosted the biggest party in sports, with previous Glendale Super Bowls in 2008 and 2015.

In 2023, “I think any repeat visitors will be blown away,” said veteran Councilwoman Joyce Clark. 

“It’s going to look totally different,” City Manager Kevin Phelps said.

“Whoever has been to the Super Bowl before and comes back will completely see a transformation of the Westgate area,” Robert Heidt, president and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

On Feb. 1, 2015, Brady was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIX, leading the New England Patriots to victory — helped by a last-minute interception — at University of Phoenix Stadium,  now known as State Farm Stadium. 

In another Glendale thriller seven years earlier, Brady watched in disbelief as Eli Manning tossed a prayer that David Tyree caught off his helmet, setting up a winning score. 

Glendale City Council approved a Crystal Lagoons project Phelps said will be a “game changer,” bringing a water attraction surrounded by restaurants, shops, offices and hotels.

“There will be no other project like this in the United States,” Clark promised.

In addition to an 11-acre lagoon, the development plans a large retail space, three hotels with 630 total rooms, office space, and multiple bars and restaurants, according to Phelps.

Though construction has not started, Crystal Lagoons is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022 — in time for the Super Bowl. 

“Crystal Lagoons will have transformed that skyline in a way that people will be immersed in it — ‘What is this?’ If they’ve been there before, it was farm fields,” Heidt said.

But that’s not all that visitors who haven’t been to Glendale since the 2015 Super Bowl will see, Clark stressed, ticking off the developments and improvements in the Sports and Entertainment District.

“There are more hotel rooms that will make their stay very convenient. Dignity Hospital is just a short distance away should someone need medical attention. There will be more restaurant offerings with the completion of the En Fuego project on the Cabela’s side of Glendale Avenue,” Clark said. 

Westgate Entertainment District is also expanding.

“But what will impress everyone will be the Crystal Lagoon at Glendale. I have every expectation that it will be built and finished prior to the Super Bowl. It’ll be a tight timeline, but it will get done,” Clark promised.

“Just the lagoon alone is going to drop jaws,” Phelps said. 

Heidt noted there will be more opportunities for Super Bowlers to stay near the stadium. “We’ve got an abundance on new hotels,” he said. “When people are looking to book rooms, they’re going to find more inventory — which was a need back in 2015.”

Phelps said the Sports and Entertainment District will be extremely pedestrian friendly by Super Bowl LVII.

“Our pitch is going to be you can fly into Sky Harbor, take an Uber or Lyft to Glendale, then 90% of what you do you won’t even have to have your own car to get to,” Phelps said.

“As we build out the Entertainment District, every year we’re going to be offering more and more stuff.”

And, Phelps added, people coming for the Super Bowl won’t need to stay in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

“We expect those people to be staying in Glendale because of the convenience and offerings.”

Clark said the area east of U.S. 101 between Desert Diamond Casino West Valley off Northern Avenue to the StoneHaven home development south of Cardinals Way is already booming and will only grow more.

“This area offers all the bells and whistles, from dining to entertainment to retail,” Clark said. “Glendale’s reputation for being an outstanding host to the Super Bowl supersedes this latest effort, and it will only be enhanced with the growth in Glendale’s ability to offer enhanced public amenities.”

Phelps stressed the contrast for previous “Big Game” visitors will be striking.

“Somebody who came out here for the first Super Bowl saw a stadium out in the middle of nowhere. Now, they’re going to see roads, office buildings, retail, restaurants,” Phelps said.

“If they were here in 2015 vs. now, they’re going to be taken back by the level and intensity of development.”  

—Managing Editor Tom Scanlon can be reached at tscanlon@