Santa Ana Star Center is a 7,000-seat multi-purpose arena in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a suburb of Albuquerque. The arena is located near the intersection of Unser Boulevard and Paseo del Volcan. It is part of a larger "City Centre" project, which also includes a new city hall.
Santa Ana Star Casino purchased the naming rights to the arena in a five-year, $2.5 million deal signed in July 2006. The arena was previously known as Rio Rancho Events Center.
The arena was completed at a cost of $47 million USD and opened on October 21, 2006. The first sports event in the arena was a hockey game on October 27, 2006, with the New Mexico Scorpions falling to the Arizona Sundogs 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd.In April 2009, the city of Rio Rancho awarded Global Spectrum as the management company for the Santa Ana Star Center.
The arena was formerly home to the New Mexico Mustangs of the North American Hockey League, the New Mexico Scorpions of the Central Hockey League, the New Mexico Stars of the Indoor Football League/Lone Star Football League, the New Mexico Wildcats of the American Indoor Football Association, New Mexico Thunderbirds, of the NBA Development League, and a venue for World Wrestling Entertainment.
The arena has been controversial since its construction, given its light attendance and its failure to turn a profit, despite the claims of Global Entertainment, the company hired to build and manage the arena, prior to the arena's development. As of 2011, the City of Rio Rancho expected to pay $3.6 million in 2011 to keep the arena running and to pay for its bonds, nearly 7% of the city’s $53.8 million budget. Sam Bregman, owner of the former New Mexico Thunderbirds, stated that he believed the venue was not a good fit for his team, saying "The Rio Rancho arena is beautiful, but it’s a long way out."