Downtown Phoenix hopes to benefit from the Suns’ return.

The season opener for the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on Wednesday could be good news for local businesses in the vicinity of the arena.

At 7 p.m., the Suns will host the Dallas Mavericks in the first of their 82 regular season games. Dallas eliminated the Suns from the NBA playoffs in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals last season.

There will be an increase in business for many establishments on game nights, including bars, restaurants, and retail stores.

Willie’s Taco Joint, which is right next to the Footprint Center, fits this description.

“When the Suns play, we go absolutely bananas. Before and after the games, we have a sizable turnout. In other words, it’s a great time because they drink a lot “shift supervisor Dani Lee said.

She added that the bartenders at Willie’s Taco Joint are working on new Suns-themed cocktails to roll out throughout the season.

Even though the Suns’ success over the past two seasons has helped increase interest from fans, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has been a problem for many companies during that time. However, now that many of the bans have been lifted, business is usual in Phoenix’s watering holes.

Several establishments experience heavy foot traffic in the hours preceding a Suns game, not just Willie’s. Fans gather down the street at The Kettle Black to eat and drink before the game.

Bartender Alex Whaley raved about this year’s Suns season. “It’s a whirlwind, and we’re all worn out by the end of the day, but it’s all in good fun. There’s a lot of positive energy, and everyone seems to be having a good time.”

It takes hours of preparation time for restaurants like Chipotle and The Yard Milkshake Bar to have enough food ready for Suns fans. These establishments experience enormous surges of customers just before kickoff, but business returns to normal once the game begins.

Xavier Cuevas, an assistant general manager at Chipotle in Cityscape, recalled how busy it had been during the Finals (in 2021). “All of the available seats were quickly occupied. A single hour of that and everyone went silent to focus on the game.”

Willie’s Taco Joint, which is across the street from the Footprint Center, is a popular place for fans to gather before Suns games.
At the corner of First and Washington streets, the brand-new Just Sports is anticipating a surge in business once the season begins. The first two and a half weeks have been slow for the team store, but manager Daniel Murillo is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“If the Suns are doing well, I anticipate a large influx of new customers. We’ll be fine once word gets out that we exist “Murillo remarked.

Murillo would like the store to be a regular stop for Suns fans, especially when the new jerseys and other merchandise for this season’s team are released.

Fanduel Sportsbook at the Footprint Center is always packed during home games, so many spectators have inevitably turned away. Since the sportsbook welcomes both ticketed customers and walk-ins, it gives everyone the experience of being at the game. The venue is accessible even when no games are being held.

“The answer to this question shifts daily in light of the schedule of available sporting events. We average around one hundred customers in the sportsbook on Sundays during NFL games and on Saturdays during college football games “I’m Tim Marks, the interim general manager,” “On weeknights, when there is a lot less going on, we’re usually around 40-50 people,” one member of staff said.

Inside the Annexus Lounge at the Footprint Center is a second Fanduel Sportsbook. This book may only be used by spectators seated courtside. Over the past year, the books have been opening after a state law permitting their operation at sporting events was passed.

Sports betting has only been legal in Arizona for a year, so “we’re expecting the proclivity of exposure to first-time bettors who are not familiar with the concept of sports gambling,” said Marks.