Recently, the NBA released its 2017-18 schedule, a sign that basketball will soon return to arenas. While the action on the court is sure to take precedence, there are several games this season in which the arenas themselves will be a major part of the story.
Perhaps the most anticipated development among NBA facilities is Little Caesars Arena, the lone new venue in the league for the upcoming season. The Detroit Pistons, who last fall announced their intention to join the NHL’s Red Wings at the arena, will play their regular season home opener on October 18.
This season will mark the first time in decades that the Pistons have played in downtown Detroit on a regular basis. Prior to this season, the Pistons had played at The Palace of Auburn Hills since 1988, with the Pontiac Silverdome serving as their home from 1978 until the Palace’s opening.
Several teams are expected to unveil the completed results of their arena renovations. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ first regular season game at the newly-renovated Target Center is scheduled for October 20, while the Utah Jazz’s first regular season game at the overhauled Vivint Smart Home Arena is on October 18. In addition, the Atlanta Hawks will show off the first phase of their renovations to Philips Arena during their regular season home opener on October 27.
While the opening of new and renovated arenas will be big moments for the NBA, the league is also including international contests in its slate. The Brooklyn Nets will play at Mexico City Arena for two games in December, including a December 7 contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder followed by a December 9 matchup with the Miami Heat. Mexico City Arena will get its second turn at hosting the NBA action in less than a year, as the Phoenix Suns played a pair of games there in January 2017.
Another international game is slated for January. On January 11, the Philadelphia 76ers will square off against the Boston Celtics at London’s The O2 Arena. This will be the eighth regular season game the NBA has played in London.
The annual All-Star Game serves as a major showcase for the league and its arena, and that should be no different for the upcoming season. The 2018 NBA All-Star Game will take place at Staples Center, home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers on February 18. This will mark the third time since its opening in 1999 that Staples Center has hosted the game, and the first since 2011.
Fittingly, the last game on this rundown is that of an arena finale. The Milwaukee Bucks are slated to host the Orlando Magic on April 9 for the final regular season game at the BMO Bradley Harris Center. Opening for the Bucks in 1988, the BMO Bradley Harris is set to be replaced in the fall of 2018 by a new downtown Milwaukee arena that is currently under construction. The BMO Bradley Harris Center is expected to be demolished after the Bucks complete their transition to the new venue.
Between arena openings and closings, as well as some marquee events, the NBA season will have plenty to offer in its upcoming season.
Top rendering courtesy Target Center Renovation. Bottom rendering courtesy Utah Jazz.
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