With only one new arena on tap in either the NBA or the NHL for the 2018-2019 season, the focus is on renovations and upgrades in existing facilities. Here’s a rundown on some of the more notable improvements.
The only new NBA facility opening for this season: Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA). With a unique exterior designed to evoke a maritime feel and an interior with plenty of discrete seating areas and some very interesting spaces, Fiserv Forum enhances the fan experience for Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette Golden Eagles fans. We were there for the first public event at the new Milwaukee arena; you can read our account here.
Renovations are the order of the day, and the most extensive arena renovation is in Atlanta, where the Hawks will play in an overhauled State Farm Arena (formerly Philips Arena). The $192.5-million renovation include new social spaces and high-tech initiatives, as well as upgraded food and beverage offerings that include a floor-level bar. (We covered the extensive renovations here.) Announced recently is the venue’s flashy A/V system. The venue will feature the first continuous 360-degree video screen in the NBA and be the first arena bowl outfitted with HD-quality, 6mm LED video display technology. Upgrades also include four corner video boards, plus upper and lower fascia displays, bringing the total square feet of video throughout State Farm Arena to 12,000 square feet, 10 times more LED video than the prior arena configuration.
At Capital One Arena, home of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the facility was overhauled in several areas, including technology, seating, concourses, and dining options. The renovation taking place at Capital One Arena is not as broad in scope as some of the other renovations that unfolded this summer at similar NBA/NHL facilities, but it does stand out for a few reasons. The project is focused on making technology a focal point for arena events, extending from the signage found on the concourse to the new sound system and 3D projection system. A revamped club area (converted from former Wizards practice space) and total seat replacement should also result in a more comfortable experience in some areas, following trends that have seen other NBA and NHL teams try to boost their fan experience with improved seating and overhauled premium areas. And yes: there is self-service beer. You can read more about the renovations here.
Another major renovation is taking place at St. Louis’s Enterprise Center, as the home of the NHL’s Blues is set to unveil fan-centric improvements in the second year of a three-year renovation process. Many of the improvements feature new and upgraded premium spots, including a gathering space known as The District on the Mezzanine level, which offers a striking view of downtown St. Louis, and a new Anheuser-Busch Biergarten. You can read about all the improvements to date here.
In Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Center is receiving a multi-year renovation that should improve the experience for fans of the NBA’s 76ers and NHL’s Flyers. Renovations completed prior to this season included a completely overhauled mezzanine level, featuring two open-air lounges, improved concessions, and new seating. A new sound system was also installed, a major change that should be apparent throughout the arena. You can read more about the project here.
One more multiyear renovation to note: Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, which closed for the summer while construction was underway. The Cavs increased the construction budget by $45 million. You can read more about the project here.
The Nashville Predators (NHL) are making annual upgrades to Bridgestone Arena. Audiovisual system overhauls are a major trend this year, as the Predators have added additional LED lighting, a new sound system, LED signage, and an upgraded control room. That set of upgrades will be debuted this fall along with other changes, including the addition of more self-serve kiosks, a new bar/gathering place, a grab-and-go stand, and more.
A smaller, but significant change at Little Caesars Arena, where the red seating is being replaced with black seating. Home to the NBA’s Pistons and NHL’s Red Wings, Little Caesars Arena opened last fall with red seating. The venue will now change that up, however, as it has officially announced a phased transition from red to permanent black seating. The work is slated to begin in December and take place over several months, while existing seats in the lower bowl will receive temporary black covers during the transition.
The Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) continue their makeover of Target Center with the installation of Cargo Food Authority, a shipyard-themed dining concept with multiple dining and drink choices, including an Asian food container, a walk-up taco bar, wings, giant pizza along with craft cocktails and draught beer. It’s in the old Hubert’s space on the Sixth Street side of the arena
And, of course, there are plenty of new food offerings across all arenas. The Indiana Pacers (NBA) are unveiling several new concessions, including the famed Batali Sandwich from Oca, while Little Caesars is the new official pizza of Vivint Smart Home Arena, operating two concession stands on level 5 of the home of the Utah Jazz (NBA) in a deal that also extends to Salt Lake City’s G League team, the MiLB Bees, and the eSports squad. It is a new world for arena food when items like jalapeno duck sausage are on the menu.
It’s certain that these will be far from the only NBA/NHL arena renovations in coming years. Houston Rockets (NBA) owner Tilman Fertitta hinted that Toyota Center upgrades could be in the works. On the new-arena front in the NHL, we’re seeing the construction of what’s basically a new arena under the historic KeyArena roof in Seattle, construction of a new New York Islanders arena at Belmont Park, and continued planning on a new Ottawa Senators arena and a new Calgary Flames arena. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are playing one last season before opening up the high-tech Chase Center in San Francisco, while the Los Angeles Clippers continue their pursuit of a new Inglewood arena.
One other trend playing out: new floors for NBA teams. The Charlotte Hornets are implementing an old-school floor with the original Hornets logo for a limited number of games, while the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies will implement new floors featuring new team logos.
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