The dictionary by Merriam-Webster’s definition of entertainment: Amusement or diversion provided especially by performers to provide entertainment. The West Valley’s definition of entertainment: Gila River Arena, P83, ISM Raceway, Westgate Entertainment District, Desert Diamond Casino, University of Phoenix Stadium, Cactus League Spring Training and a new 320-mile Maricopa Trail system.
West Valley residents who are looking to be entertained need to look no further than their own back yard. Visitors now have more options than ever before to keep their interest longer and spending even more generous. If you’re a new or expanding business looking for the perfect landing spot to entice and satisfy the entertainment and recreation whims of employees, look at the West Valley. It’s a done deal.
Which came first, residents or entertainment?
There’s no denying it — the West Valley is rapidly becoming a beacon of entertainment prosperity and possibility. While residents and visitors are pleased with the addition of new entertainment options, entertainment entities are likewise attracted to a region where household income is high, consumer power is strong and the population is swiftly rising.
“Now that we have the people, we have the retail, the workforce, and now we’re starting to see more entertainment come in,” says Sintra Hoffman, WESTMARC’s president and CEO.
In addition to entertainment-focussed businesses, the West Valley has been host to the NCAA Final 4, the College Football Playoff National Championship game, the 2015 Super Bowl, the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament, UFC, Katy Perry, Sugarland, Brad Paisley, and countless other sports and concert venues. And in 2023, the West Valley will host its third Super Bowl.
“Businesses crave both the brand exposure and revenue spikes from these events,” says Jeff Teetsel, principal at Teetsel Properties, LLC. “Only a select few markets in the country get to experience and benefit from these mega events.”
The domino effect
The added value of big sporting events and concerts, combined with increasing dining and entertainment options in the West Valley is akin to a supercharged magnet. One big pull attracts dollars and literally spreads the wealth to surrounding entertainment sources — and visitors are sticking around longer and returning to the West Valley more and more.
“We consistently draw in revenue with big-name events at Gila River Arena, benefitting the surrounding hotels and businesses,” says Dale Adams, general manager of Gila River Arena and vice president of event development of AEG Facilities. “But our major advantage is the ability to create invaluable exposure for the West Valley, while creating unique memories.”
Unique experiences are something for which West Valley purveyors of entertainment excel, as they constantly seek ways to capitalize on already abundant offerings and prime locations.
“From regular live music to car shows, bike nights, summer series geared toward younger children and families, charity runs, a seasonal ice rink and more,” says Teetsel of the Westgate Entertainment District, “we activate the property with over 400 different events on about 250 days a year to drive repeat traffic and consumer enjoyment to supplement the great events in the arena and stadium.”
While staples like Westgate, P83, Desert Diamond Casino, Gila River Arena and ISM Raceway capture attention from within and outside of the West Valley, nonprofits and recreational outlets are doing more than their share as well.
“West Valley nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences contributed $23 million in direct economic activity and more than $2.5 million in local and state government revenues,” says Bernadette Carroll, executive director, West Valley Arts Council.
The recent renovations at Estrella Mountain Regional Park and White Tank Mountain Regional Park renovation enhanced and improved trails and campsites and are primed to attract more more visitors and residents.
ISM Raceway, which has entertained auto racing fans in the West Valley since 1964, has reinvented and reinvigorated itself thanks to a $178 million renovation project that will create a one-of-a-kind experience for race fans. When the project is complete in November, there will be WiFi in every seat, allowing fans access to social media, live news reports and their favorite apps during races. And the infield will be transformed into an interactive experience where fans can access garages and see teams, cars and drivers prepare for the race from up close.
But it’s not only race fans that will benefit from the new state-of-the-art ISM Raceway.
“We hope to bring in more non-racing events in the future,” says Jennifer Staton, senior director of partnership sales and marketing for ISM Raceway. “By adding concerts and other events, we are trying to transform ourselves from a strictly motorsports venue into an entertainment venue.”
ISM Raceway has successfully hosted 5K runs, a Tough Mudder and hopes to bring concerts or a music festival to the new facility.
“We are always going to be a motorsports facility first,” says Keane Horner, manager of partnership sales at ISM Raceway, “but we are trying to change that so we are a true entertainment destination.”
Also coming this fall to the West Valley is the third Arizona location for Topgolf, which will be located at the northwest corner of Bethany Home Road and the 101 near Westgate in Glendale.
“Topgolf and this vibrant, dynamic area are a perfect match and would offer residents and visitors alike fun entertainment options,” says Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps. “This signature opportunity would go a long way in furthering the type of quality growth Glendale is attracting to this thriving district.”
The three-level Glendale location – which will be open year-round – includes up to 3,000 square feet of private event space and climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time. Officials estimate that Topgolf Glendale will serve approximately 450,000 visitors in its first year of operation. Approximately half of all Topgolf guests describe themselves as “non-golfers.”
Those who seek outdoor entertainment can look forward to the officially dedicated Maricopa Trail, a 320-mile trail system connecting dozens of West Valley communities. It is also set to debut this fall.
As for the future of West Valley entertainment? Expect even more to come.
“The majority of future Valley housing growth will occur in the West Valley, bringing increased population density and income to the region and amplifying the demand for entertainment options proximate to where people live,” Teetsel says.