Fine Details of New Orleans Arena Renovations

Published: June 5, 2013

The New Orleans Pelicans are just that . . . the New Orleans, not Seattle . . . Pelicans, not Supersonics, in part thanks to the current and upcoming renovations to the New Orleans Arena. The Practice Facility and Tom Benson’s whopping investment played a role, but those have been discussed recently, so it’s the Arena’s turn again.

Work has already begun on the Arena renovations, detailed here last summer, and it is being worked on schedule and on budget, according to a recent meeting of the LSED, the State Board the acts as stewards of the property and others. This is very good news.

Less encouraging is that the second round of improvements, highlighted by the Entry Lobby, is over budget. This will have to be rectified by raising a few million dollars more, stretching the work out, or reducing the scope.

Rather than go whole hog into this as I’m prone to do, I’ll stick to the bare bone and get to what I really what to show you. I’ll stick the rest on an upcoming page here at Bourbon Street Shots that will grow over time.

Raising money actually may not be that big of a problem. Tom Benson kicked in a few million to get the Practice Facility he wants and has a good relationship with the State (Saints, Pelicans, Zelia). Perhaps he can loan the money to the State or buy certain revenues back from the state, like some profits from Pelicans-produced Champion Square events or some NBA All-Star Game revenues. Mr. Lauscha is a creative man, and I’m sure he can come up with something.

Stretching the work out may not be as pointless as it sounds. As it turns out (see below), small pieces of the work could be broken off and done separately. This will depend on the equipment involved, to some extent, but stretching the schedule also allows more time to raise the balance of the funds.

Then there is the scope.

From Terrance Harris:

“Our hope is we can preserve a similar amount of square footage so that we do not lose a lot of space,” Thornton said during the meeting, which took place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “We will probably have to compromise a little bit on some of the glazing and just the area of the roof honing.

“But we are working with architects so that we can bring the costs down.”

This begs the question: “How many square feet?”

Among others.

To answer this question, I decided to look at the plans for the renovations.

As it turns out, the Entry Lobby, as what I was calling an Atrium last summer is now being called, will be about 52,000 square feet.

Construction of a new approximately 52,000 square feet, multi-story entry lobby for the arena will require erection of a new steel frame, multi story lobby on the north and east sides of the arena. The new Lobby will be connected to the existing floors with new escalators and include outdoor roof decks for public use. A new box office and ticketing operation will be included on the ground floor and be adjacent to new major entry on the northeast corner of the building. Construction of the new Lobby will require selective demolition of existing Arena enclosure and elevated pedestrian bridges. As the new lobby wraps around the east side of the arena it will encompass a new VIP lobby. This new lobby will provide new escalators to the club level and an expanded reception area for club patrons. The existing exterior curtain wall will be replace to accommodate the expanded footprint and new escalators.

52,000 square feet is big. That’s over 11 NBA courts (50’x94′ each) or about 3 times the total Arena floor size.

Let’s take a look to make this clearer:

Site Plan

You can click that image to make it larger if it helps.

To help you get oriented, the Pelicans bench is at the bottom right of the court, and sections 123, 124, 101, and 102 are the ones along the top of the court. The Dome is just past the top of the picture, and north is basically at 11 o’clock.

The dotted line running from that northernmost (11 o’clockmost) point, out near the corner LeRouge and Girod / Dixon, then along LeRouge to where the patio outside the Capital One Club is today is the outline of the Lobby’s overhang.

Working backwards, this last part is the VIP / VVIP area. More on that later, but there are “Fire Elements” included, and the person describing them to me couldn’t do so, if that makes sense. There was no obligation, he was just at a loss for words. Whether of the beauty, spectacle, or pointlessness, I do not know.

That middle area is the main entrance and new ticket office with its 16 ticket booths and back office area.

The area between the Arena and the Dome is `inside’.

For those not used to reading plans, here are some tips. First, you are looking at selected features from all levels of the multi-story construction, which is confusing. Second, some of what you see is structural (e.g. walls), others are function (e.g. doors, 12 there at the Northeast entrance, where the little arcs show the path of the end as it opens), and there are notes and other info (e.g. outline of the overhang) there to confuse you.

View from NE

This is the image at the top of the article. It’s a rendering of the structure viewed from the Northeast, so from the direction of Champions Square. The little sticks all along the bottom are underground supports for this things, so ignore that for now. One nice addition is the stairway on the north side (right of picture) leading up the to the East Walkway. Hopefully we can use that for Saints games, too.

You can see the ticket area separating the VIP / VVIP area from the IP area on the North side, as well. Here are a couple of more familiar and realistic renderings during the day and at night, followed by a view from the patio above the the North side, facing East.

NE Night

NE Day


Views from the Southeast and Northwest to round out what you are seeing.

View from SE

View from NW

Going inside the Arena to something we’ll see this Fall, we arrive at a subject near and dear to my heart: the Party Perch. This caused some relocations and price increases. The Loge boxes merely caused relocations, as those near the Loge boxes were not charge more for the privilege of sitting near the Logians.

So far, this thing seems to be delivering.

Party Perch Side Through

This is looking though the stairs that border the bar. The bandstand is on top of the bar, and those are TV’s mounted on the support for the bandstand.

Party Perch Top

This top view not only shows the bandstand (and a decent sized one!), but shows that it overlooks the bar. It’s not over the bar . . . it over looks it.

That’s awesome. Front row for Kermit, at a basketball game, at a bar?

If they serve shrimp and grits, bring me there and kill me on the spot after an alley-oop . . . because how does it get better?

Party Perch Top Through

This is just looking through the bandstand so you can see the bar. Odd shape, but cool. Of course, I’m not the best judge of cool. I can judge awesome. My groom party had cane swords (and drew them) at my wedding. Cool? Not sure. Awesome? Totally.

Party Perch Front

Here’s what it looks like if you are floating above the court.

There’s a setup like this at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, but it’s not as nice. There was no bar and the stand was sort of conspicuous. Despite that, the use of live music was done well, and I’m sure New Orleans can pull it off, too.

More to come once we set up the page. What do you want to know more about first? These plans are not the easiest to read, so it’s going to be a slog to present something interesting and digestible.


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