Renovating the New Orleans Arena

Published: February 21, 2012

We take a look at what is being done to renovate the New Orleans Arena. What are some of the things that you, our readers, would like to see?

The New Orleans Arena has always been the little brother of the Superdome. What could be done to bring it up to par?

The NBA has been built on a foundation of on court drama and excitement as well as the off-court, game day experience. Fans walk through the turnstiles, kids look up at their parents to take them to the merchandise store and fathers/mothers purchase overpriced beer. This is professional sports and nobody seems to care, except the people that own these organisations.

Part of this experience has been the improvement and renovations of the buildings with which these athletes play in. Jerry Jones built a stadium that the Romans could only ever dream about. Madison Square Garden is currently a mix between a building site and local watering hole for crazed sports fans. David Stern takes a team away from a city if he doesn’t get the funding he needs for a modern day arena (A hat-tip to our friends in the North-West region).

The NBA and the service it provides have changed. In order to remain competitive it must improve its arenas. This brings us to the New Orleans Arena (I wish we could name it after Seafood). After moving back from Oklahoma City in 2008 the Hornets had to make concerted efforts to reconnect with the fan base.  Pushing for tickets, corporate sponsorships among other things has been a priority.

Recently Hornets President Hugh Weber said in a Hornets247 podcast that, “unfortunately there are no backseats, everything is in the front seat, everything is a priority. And our TV deal is just one of the other things we’ve been working through.” The same could be said about renovations to the New Orleans Arena.

Of September last year a group of architects toured the arena to get ideas for redevelopment. These were all from a number of firms to gather their plans and submit them to SMG (company who manages the arena). The goal of the renovation is to create a stronger capital growth for the Hornets and will surely be a big key to the next lease agreement between the Hornets and the state.

It appears that the NO Arena is next on SMG’s checklist to promote growth for the tenant while also reducing operating costs.

Officials from six firms will participate in the tour and attend an initial meeting for the project, according to SMG Senior VP/Stadiums & Arenas Doug Thornton. The goal is to renovate the arena and generate incremental revenue for the arena’s NBA tenant, the Hornets. New premium seat options and digital technology could be part of the plan. The Hornets’ lease runs through the ’13-14 season, and the master plan will play a key role in talks between the club and SMG for extending the agreement. —Don Murrett, SportsBusiness Daily

Big picture this has repercussions for the Hornets and their viability within the city of New Orleans. David Stern has always valued State cooperation as one of the keys to a city keeping (or receiving) an NBA franchise. This renovation is an extension of that and it’s been noted over his tenure that Stern loves a good renovation.

The Comissioner loves to deliberate about the number of new suites, new big-screens and audio systems, updated technology and new architectural rendering. It was way of boasting the NBA’s continued growth and commitment to a region. It’s a way of saying that, “Hey we’re better than the competition.”

Aside from NBA politics and goals, this can be something that will surely keep the Hornets in New Orleans for a long time to come.

So what things would we like to see from a renovated Arena?

  • New Audio System

The current system is adequate, but going to other stadiums you really notice a big difference in the audio systems. The quality and trajectory needs to be improved.

  • Hornets Square

Encouraging restaurants, bars and other businesses to set up shop around the Arena is a must. It will get people to come into the game before hand and get them to stay after. Remember to keep it classy and not tacky though.

  • Improving the Suites and Luxury Boxes

Part of the arena improvements always demanded by David Stern is more and better luxury boxes. This is because the NBA is a business and getting them to use the NBA and partner with them is what they’re all about. Showing both in and out of state businesses the benefits of the Hornets is what is needed, reflecting this through better suites and luxury boxes is how it’s done.

What other things would you like to see improved by the New Orleans Arena? What do you think could improve your experience on gameday?


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