Bette Breaks In The New Glendale Arena and It Gets A Passing Grade!


Larry Rodgers
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 14, 2004 12:00 AM

The new Glendale Arena got off to a divine start as a concert venue Thursday night with the help of Bette Midler, an army of courteous staffers and a design that makes for better-than-average sound.

With plenty of elbow room in the lobby areas, padded seats throughout and an impressive array of concessions, this $220 million facility is sure to give its main competitor, America West Arena in downtown Phoenix, real competition for the big shows passing through the Valley.

The emphasis is on “big” at Glendale Arena, and that’s a double-edged sword.

On the plus side, a modern design allows the arena to attract productions such as Midler’s, which had a mammoth set including towering “buildings.”

In the lobby areas, a conservative but casual design gives patrons a view of the upper levels, while tall windows add to the airy feel.

A large number of wide, curtained entrances to the performance area also lend an accessible feel, and concertgoers can even stand at a narrow counter that rings the lower seating.

But the arena seems cavernous – more so than America West – when viewed from seats in its upper reaches. That’s because the upper seats in the arena, which was designed for Phoenix Coyotes hockey games, are set farther back from the floor than those at America West, whose sight lines were designed primarily for a narrower basketball court.

However, for concert’s such as Midler’s, with the action at one end of the arena, an unobstructed view of the floor means nothing. Those in the rear seats near the roof get a view of a stage that might as well be at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

“It’s pretty high, but (upper seating at) Bank One Ballpark is high, too,” said concertgoer Jennifer Bicking of Sedona, who sat near the rafters with her husband, Chip. “We brought binoculars.”

Despite comparing her view to that at a stadium, Bicking said she and her husband would return:

“The sound’s good, the heating and air is good. It’s comfortable.”

The upper seats are set at a steep incline, to keep them closer to the floor. An older man was seen slowly guiding his hesitant female companion down the stairs.

“It’s pretty steep, and I don’t think the acoustics are all that good,” said Heather Bell of Phoenix, who was seated high up on the side.

Midler’s band, which is not a loud rock outfit, did sound a bit weak from far back, but the sound for those seated on the lower level was superb.

The use of baffling in the rafters seems to have successfully dampened much of the echoing that plagues upper seats at America West Arena.

Midler noticed the design, telling the crowd, “This is probably the best sound we’ve had on the whole tour.”

But the bawdy singer also joked about the arena’s location on the western outskirts of the Valley, at Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue:

“Could it be any farther out there? . . . Even the cows are saying, ‘Where are we?’ ”

Orlando Ulibarri of Phoenix had praise for the arena’s sound, but not the time he’d spent in his car:

“I like them both (Glendale and America West). I don’t like the drive out here.”

But as the Valley sprawls ever farther and the dusty fields around the arena fill in with a projected entertainment complex, that drive should become less of a factor.

Meanwhile, the true concert test for the arena will come March 3, when Britney Spears will draw hordes of screaming teens.

“I just dread the Britney Spears show,” said T-shirt seller Chris Bojorquez with a laugh. “That’s going to be the worst.”

Share A little Divinity
Verified by MonsterInsights