Phoenix Arena’s Ticket To Ride

Patrons attending events at the 19,000-capacity US Airways Center in Phoenix now have an added bonus included in their ticket price – a free, round-trip pass to ride the city’s Metro light rail system to and from any event during the next year.

Venue GM Ralph Marchetta told Pollstar the Rail Ride Event pilot program, which launches Oct. 1 with AC/DC’s stop on its Black Ice tour, has been in the works since early in the year.

“We hosted the NBA All-Star game in February and started thinking about what we can do. There’s a light rail stop right next to US Airways Center,” Marchetta explained. “It seemed like such a natural fit and Metro could see the benefits.

“It takes cars off the road and it’s an added value. People don’t have to pay for parking, which is about $20.”

Here’s how the program works: US Airways Center, home to the NBA’s Suns and WNBA’s Mercury, hosts about 200 concerts, sporting and family events each year.

Tickets purchased for any of those events will be accepted as round-trip passes beginning four hours prior to an event through the end of the transit day. The venue’s owners then reimburse Metro 31 cents per person, so no outside funding is needed for the program. And unlike some parking fees that are built into a ticket whether venue parking is used or not, not a cent is added on to the cost of ducats.

The program is expected to generate $300,000 to $340,000 for the new Metro light rail system.

The agreement is touted as the first of its kind between a transit agency and an entertainment venue. The Metro board of directors approved the partnership integrating event and light rail ticketing with Phoenix Arena Development Limited Partnership Sept. 16.
The Rail Ride Event pilot program runs through Sept. 30, 2010.

The light rail system currently extends 20 miles and there are plans to possibly extend that range up to 37 miles in the future.

Marchetta said there’s been good feedback so far from people using the rail system, so the program is off to a good start.

“We’re really excited about this [and] we think it will drive people to the venue,” he said. “It’s a really unique program.

“We think it adds to the experience because you’re riding the train with other fans.”

Phoenix Suns President/CEO Rick Welts agrees.

“Suns fans who used light rail to travel to games told us that being able to avoid traffic and parking issues, as well as the ease and convenience of the trip, resulted in an experience that enhanced their enjoyment attending the game.”