A seemingly mundane mid-June Tuesday represented the dawning of a new era for Arizona sportsbooks.
That was when Caesars Sportsbook Arizona formally opened the doors to its 22,300-square-foot, two-level facility at Chase Field — becoming the second operator to open on the grounds of a professional sports team venue in state history.
FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona opened its Footprint Center location in partnership with the Phoenix Suns in September.
The Caesars opening event represented a labor of love for a pair of company executives, David Grolman and Ken Fuchs.
Grolman serves as the senior vice president of operations for Caesars Sportsbook, while Fuchs is head of sports.
Both had their hands full to ensure the largest sportsbook attached to a stadium in the country got off on the right foot, after more than 10 months of construction.
BetArizona.com chatted with Grolman and Fuchs on opening day of the Chase Field facility to get a handle on what the day meant to both, as well as discussing a variety of other subjects related to wagering in the Grand Canyon State.
Below is a transcript of that conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Immediate Success of Arizona Sports Betting a Surprise
BetArizona.com: What does today mean to both you guys, getting the Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field facility open?
David Grolman: What does it mean? It's been a labor of love. I mean, if you had seen the before pictures of this space, it was literally empty. As folks know, around the country, there are supply chain and labor issues. To get this thing over the line feels really good because we weren't sure we were going to get it. And hopefully everyone will like what they see. The team put a lot of hard work into it.
Ken Fuchs: Like Dave said, we build experiences for fans. At the end of the day, when you think about the culmination of what sports betting is, combined with great food with Guy Fieri, you can't have a more beautiful space. So, it's actually going to be more fun to come together with your friends and have a good time and be able to bet on sports at the same time. And really, it's an unmatched venue essentially in baseball. So, I'm very excited to get to come.
BetArizona.com: It has been 10 months since Arizona sports betting apps launched, and it has since become a top five or six market in the country. Take me through that opening stretch and how it has been for Caesars Sportsbook.
Fuchs: It’s been terrific. And I think what's been most surprising is just how big it got so quickly. At the end of the day, this is an amazing sports state when you think about the history of the teams and their performance, like the Diamondbacks and their 2001 World Series win.
It’s a great young team with a tremendous amount of energy and then you translate that into the ability to bet on games and have a stake in the action. For us as a state, you really can't get any better in terms of the adjacency to Nevada, so there's a lot of knowledge around sports betting that's already inherent with fans here. And so, I think, between when we went live, our app and the way we deliver Caesars rewards every time you bet and the fact that you can bet on so many different events — with mobile sports betting combined with a great retail space — it's just a lot of fun.
BetArizona.com: Take me through what Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field adds for Caesars in Arizona, and how does it stand out among the other facilities you guys have in other markets?
Grolman: Well, this is the first in the state, and it's certainly the biggest sportsbook attached to any sporting facility in the country. We have the one at (Washington D.C.’s Capital One Arena) that's a little bit smaller.
This is 22,000 square feet. You know what it adds is, I think it gives the Diamondbacks a great visible partner with Caesars, one of the iconic brand names. I mean, you go back to all the boxing events that happened at Caesars Palace and all the sporting events.
For us to be attached to a team that's won the World Series — and this is one of the most incredible stadiums in the country for baseball with the movable roof — it's phenomenal.
So, I think that just some adds some cachet to both brands.
Caesars Sportsbook Creates Energy Downtown
BetArizona.com: What does it mean for Caesars to open a sportsbook in the heart of downtown Phoenix in particular?
Grolman: Look, we had a soft opening this weekend. Zero advertising. We had a homestand Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and they said that there was a line to get into the place with no advertising. So, the energy that the space will create for this area before a game will be huge.
And why do you go to a ballgame? It's not just to watch baseball. You go to a sporting event for the entirety of it. And maybe this will get folks down here two hours early to enjoy it. And it's a quick walk, come in here, and if you decide to just come here and watch the game, we'll have the game on. You can sit out here under the fans and watch the game. It’s all part of the experience, right?
Fuchs: Yeah, this is also a big developing area of the city, and they have the premier location downtown and to be able to service fans not just on game days, but all year-round around all the major sporting events, or if you just want to come in and get a great meal.
It really serves multiple purposes, but at the end of the day, it's about the energy of a baseball game and being with other fans and friends and being able to celebrate that in different ways.
BetArizona.com: What would you tell people about what today means to you both?
Grolman: I'm a massive sports fan and always have been. To be able to connect to major league teams and a team like the Diamondbacks and provide them something that's going to be here long after I'm in this business, that’s why you do this, right?
Fans can continue to come down, hopefully for years to come and enjoy this facility. Enjoy the game. And maybe I can come down here and have a beer and watch again, with less pressure.
Fuchs: I honestly couldn't have said it better. I mean, we do everything we do for our fans, and our audience, and to have a partner like the Diamondbacks who share the same DNA around entertainment and service and hospitality. It really is about that partnership and about all the fans that can come here and enjoy the experiences. So bring that to life and actually see that come to life today is incredibly exciting.