Glendale will soon be home to Arizona’s largest hotel, the centerpiece of an oversized entertainment complex.
A piece of agricultural land in Glendale, once slated for an IKEA, will be transformed next year into a resort and theme park built around a lagoon near State Farm Stadium.
Construction of VAI Resort is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 on what backers say is the state’s largest hotel and entertainment destination. City leaders hope the project will boost efforts to attract people to the area.
“It doesn’t take a genius to really see the evolution of the West Side, and I wanted to be at the forefront of that with this resort and kind of change the narrative of the West Side,” says Grant Fisher, VAI President and General Manager of the station. Fisher says the availability of well-located land and the city’s pro-development attitude are among the reasons to build there.
The resort will rise 60 acres at the southern end of the Westgate Entertainment District and will include a 1,200-room hotel, a 7-acre water feature with white sand beaches and a man-made island. A 360-degree concert stage will be the heart of it.
A theme park by toy giant Mattel will be built to include a roller coaster, a go-kart track and an indoor battery-powered passenger train, according to plans. Built as Arizona’s first major entertainment venue since Legend City closed in 1983, the park will be 97 percent indoors, so visitors can enjoy it even in triple-digit summers.
The project replaces Crystal Lagoons, a less ambitious concept – announced in 2020 – which was supposed to open in time for the Super Bowl in February 2023, but was delayed when the resort’s construction company took over as owner and greatly expanded its reach. As part of the new development contract, Glendale will waive $1 million in fees and offer reduced property taxes on part of the project. The city will also provide 2,600 parking spaces when not in use by the Arizona Cardinals for major games or events.
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said there was no bidding war for the project and any incentives given were minimal given the projected return of more than $200 million. over the next 25 years.
“We see it as a way to differentiate ourselves [from other cities] without saying, ‘They’re bad and we’re good,'” he said. “We see it as finding a niche that we can fill.”