Suns Rename Arena, Announce Partnership With Footprint

Photo Courtesy: Phoenix Suns

Story By Evan Oscherwitz

Their run to the NBA Finals has shocked many basketball followers outside of the Valley, but the Phoenix Suns did something even more unexpected Friday, when they announced that they would change the name of their home arena to Footprint Center.

The name change comes as part of a larger partnership between the Suns and Footprint, a Gilbert-based material science company that specializes in making plastic-free foodware. The team plans to cut down on its use of plastic inside the arena, a goal they aim to achieve by introducing Footprint’s products into their in-arena services. Footprint CEO and co-founder Troy Swope notably mentioned the idea of replacing standard plastic water and soda bottles with Footprint’s fiber-based technology.

“Most of our technologies that we’re going to use to transform this arena [are] already available today,” Swope said. “There’s going to be some innovation. We have to look at the partners that the Suns have that bring products into the arena and we’re going to look at and innovate for them as well.”

The day before game five of the NBA Finals might seem like a strange time to announce a naming rights deal, but the Suns felt that they could not wait any longer to kickstart the partnership. Some Footprint signage will be ready for Saturday’s game, while the rest will be installed during the offseason as the arena undergoes its second series of renovations. 

“We’re starting right now,” Sarver said. “When our fans come to game five tomorrow… they’re going to see some Footprint signage.”

Sarver said that a number of recognizable brands offered to put their names on the arena, but that Footprint won out because they were local and managed to sell him on their anti-plastic agenda.

“We wanted to make sure that when we put a name up on this building, that was a name that everyone in this organization embraced,” Sarver said. “While we had some very reputable and larger prospects that were very interested, [Footprint] just kept coming back at the top of the list.”

In addition to the Suns and Mercury, the deal includes Spanish soccer club RCD Mallorca, which Sarver also owns. The team is based in the tourist-filled Balearic Islands off the coast of mainland Spain, and Swope hopes to use the partnership to help offset the environmental damage caused by the islands’ heavy tourist traffic whilst also allowing Footprint to expand their operations into Europe.


“Our vision is that we’re going to help that entire island eliminate single-use plastic,” Swope said. “[It is] an opportunity to bring our customers down there and show them the innovation and transformation of not only the stadium there, but the entire island.”

While teams in other sports, such as the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, have embraced environmentally-conscious naming rights partnerships, the Suns will be the first NBA team to do so. Swope and Sarver both stressed the idea of using the Footprint Center as a “lab” for testing sustainable products and setting an example for the rest of the league to follow.

Whether or not other franchises will follow suit remains to be seen, but the partnership establishes the Suns as a trendsetter for the rest of the league when it comes to sustainability. With the franchise on the cusp of winning its first championship and shedding its label as a perennial underdog, a groundbreaking naming rights deal seems timely, and the Suns hope that they will have as much success in the Footprint Center as they had this year in Phoenix Suns Arena.