View from the Homefront Part 3: Touring the US Airways Center

Am I being a bad Suns fan if I don't post a recap of the All-Star game, given that two of our guys were in it? Well, tough. I DVR'ed the game and haven't watched it yet, other than bits and pieces in the background. By the time I do get around to watching the whole thing from start to finish, it will probably be old news. Feel free to have a go at it in the diaries if you'd like. In the meantime, here is something that might be more interesting than a glorified exhibition game (yeah, I'm not a big fan of All-Star weekend, although Dwight Howard has won me over on the dunk contest).

As some of our long-time readers may recall, I was in Phoenix near the start of the season this past November. In addition to taking in a couple of Suns games, I also had the opportunity to tour the US Airways Center and partake in some other interesting activities. I had planned to do a four-part series entitled View from the Homefront. I got halfway there, posting the first two parts immediately after the games in November. I intended to put up the other two during the Thanksgiving break or during Christmas, but busy schedules (both mine and the Suns'), additional travel, and the need to occasionally get some real work done at my "day" job took their toll. Eventually, it just made sense to wait until the mid-season break in the action when we're usually scrambling for something to write about anyway. Of course, this was before I knew the Western Conference arms race would create an endless supply of Shaq-inspired ideas, but what's done is done. For those who are new to this site, you can find the first two parts of this series here and here. Now, let's have a look around the US Airways Center (where the Suns play, for anyone who didn't already know that).

Photos and more after the jump.

First things first: Many thanks to Bright Side of the Sun founder Dan Hilton, (now working at Suns.com), for showing me the sights. I wasn't able to enter restricted areas such as the Suns locker room, and I had to do the tour at a time when the players weren't in the building. That's a bummer, but on the other hand, I'd hate to think a distraction from an unexpected outside element such as myself might have a "butterfly effect" on the guys and cause them to lose the game. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

So, on with the parts of the arena I did get to see. We'll start with the practice court. This photo is approximately the same view you'd see if you were sitting in the media area watching a practice. One thing that didn't show up particularly well in the photo are the enormous speakers on each side. Apparently the Suns like to jam a bit with their practice.


Next up is the Al McCoy Media Center, where the recent Shaquille O'Neal press conference was held. You'll probably recognize that gray column to the left from the video on Suns.com.


The walls of the Al McCoy Media Center are lined with photos and quotes from throughout Al's career. Pretty much every Suns era is represented, as well as McCoy's favorite phrases such as "Oh brother!" and "Shazaam!". A fitting tribute to one of the all-time greats in broadcasting.


Down below, near where the players enter the court, is a VIP area. Now, here's why you don't wait three months to posts these things. I have absolutely no idea what the official name of this area is. It's a lounge sitting on top of a miniature version of the Suns' court. Pretty cool, and I'm sure it has a cool name too if I could just remember it. [Update 02/18]: Dan to the rescue--he says it's the Courtside Club.


Here is where the media sits during the game. There are two rows of seats, each one labeled with the name and organization of the reporter to which it is assigned.


This shot was taken from the seat assigned to the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro. You can see people in the background preparing the court for the game. You can also see why members of the media were a little upset about having to move further away from the action. It looks like Paul's view would be obstructed a little by those in the row in front of him (not to mention the microphone and monitor already blocking a bit of the view).


Lastly, moving up to the second floor, here is a shot of the empty arena before the game.


That's it for Part 3. The fourth and final part of this series will be posted tomorrow, barring any news of the "absolutely must take priority" variety.

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