I told you so. The home of the Utah Jazz will stay at the Vivint SmartHome Arena, rather than move to the burbs as many predicted. The oldest and smallest NBA arena in the country is getting a $125-million facelift just in time for the new season because folks behind the scenes have encouraged the Miller family to stay put, and the owners of the franchise are feeling good about it.
We fans won't see many of the changes this season, but work will begin ASAP. Solar panels will augment the draw from the Rocky Mountain Power substation across the street. There's been talk of installing big screens around the exterior of the arena for people to watch from plazas surrounding the building. Overall, the remodel is about increasing fan experience, and includes the following updates:
All-new locker rooms for both teams.
A 12,000-square-foot atrium to help patrons get out of the weather as they move through security.
Fancier suites where high-rollers can party while watching the game.
More lounges. If you just drink $10 beer, there will be places for you. If you want a $20 cocktail, there will be places for you, too.
More food choices, including gourmet burgers and hand-tossed pizzas, and healthier options like salads.
New "chairback" seats in the lower and upper bowls.
High-speed internet inside the arena so you can watch the game on your phone (go figure), and other tech upgrades such as better mobile apps.
The designers are planning to open up the four upper corners of the area to have casual gathering spaces where fans can watch the game away from their seats. Level 2 will house five "themed clubs" for pre-game dining.
Utah-based Layton Construction will be the general contractor. They have done renovations at many sports venues around the country, including Madison Square Garden and the Forum in Los Angeles. The architects say that the bones of the building are solid, which means it doesn't have to be torn down.
The Utah Jazz plays its first game Oct. 25 in Portland, and its second at home on Oct. 28 against the Lakers. We're not big enough (yet) to have a major football team here in the Beehive, but the Jazz and the Real keep sports fans pretty happy, considering the number of seats that sell each year. Props to the Millers for keeping our boys downtown.