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The Sporting Life in Phoenix

If you’re a sports fan, Phoenix can be a terrific place to visit. That’s because the city is home to franchises in each of the four major sports – a claim to fame that many more well-known “sports cities,” such as Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston and Dallas, cannot make. Although in some cases, the teams that call the area home are relative newcomers to their leagues, this quartet has given residents (and visitors) plenty of reasons to cheer.

  • Phoenix Suns (NBA) – The first major professional sports franchise in the Phoenix market, the Suns were an expansion team that began play in the 1968-69 season. The team was originally owned by a group that included entertainers Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Ed Ames. As of the end of the 2014-15 season, the Suns have the league’s fourth-best all-time winning percentage, and have made the playoffs 29 times in their first 47 seasons. They have reached the NBA finals twice, but hold the dubious honor of being the team with the best franchise win-loss record that has never won the NBA championship. The team currently plays its home games at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix.
  • Arizona Cardinals (NFL) – The oldest continuously run football franchise in the United States, the Cardinals were founded in Chicago in 1898. They were a charter member of the NFL in 1920 (and are one of only two of the original charter members still in operation). The club moved to St. Louis in 1960 and played in that city until 1987. Before the 1988 NFL season, the team moved to Tempe and played their home games at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium. Even with the move west, they played in the NFC East division until the league realigned before the 2002 season. The Cardinals reached Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2012, the Cardinals became the first NFL franchise to lose 700 games since its inception; however, they remain one of two NFL teams never to have lost a playoff game at home. And as of this writing, they have clinched their second consecutive NFC West division title. Since 2006, the Cardinals have played their home games at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
  • Arizona Coyotes (NHL) – The organization began as the Winnipeg Jets, the most successful team in the short-lived World Hockey Association (WHA), taking home the championship trophy in three of the league’s seven seasons. When the WHA folded in 1979, the Jets were one of four teams absorbed into the NHL. The club relocated to Phoenix in 1996, with “Coyotes” chosen in a “name the team” contest. The team made the playoffs in five of its first six seasons in its new home. Then, after a dry spell (which saw all-time great Wayne Gretzky step in as partial owner and, for a brief period, coach), they returned to the playoffs in 2010. After the 2013-14 season, the team – which plays its home games at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, outside the Phoenix city limits – changed its name to the Arizona Coyotes, to include all hockey fans in the state.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – In 1995, Major League Baseball awarded Arizona an expansion franchise, to begin play for the 1998 season. The ownership group – led by Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo – was so confident that they would get the team that they held a name-the-team contest (with the winner receiving lifetime season tickets) several weeks before they actually got the bid (and paid the $130 million franchise fee). Initially coached by Buck Showalter, the Diamondbacks won the National League West division in just their second season (1999). However, following a disappointing 2000 campaign, Colangelo fired Showalter and replaced him with Bob Brenly, who had been working as an analyst on the team’s television broadcasts. In 2001, Brenly (along with ace pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling) led the Diamondbacks to a World Series victory over the New York Yankees. It was only the team’s fourth season of play, making them the youngest expansion franchise ever to win the World Series. It was also the first major professional sports championship for the state of Arizona. Since its inception the team has played its home games at Chase Field (formerly known as Bank One Ballpark).

To get to Phoenix to catch a game, or to explore one of our other terrific destinations – just for the sport of it – send us an email at info@takeagetaway.com.

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