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Utah Jazz planning major face-lift for their downtown arena

Published May 20, 2016 9:40 am

Vivint SmartHome • Makeover will cost more than $100M; the team says formal announcement coming soon.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The home of the Utah Jazz got a new name this past season, and soon it will be getting a makeover.

The Larry H. Miller Group is planning a major renovation of Vivint SmartHome Arena, expected to cost more than $100 million, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.

"We feel like we're going to do something in a significant way to make the building feel new again," Jazz President Steve Starks confirmed Thursday, "and return it to first-class status within the NBA."



A quarter-century old, the arena is one of the oldest in use in the league, but team officials have long said the building had "good bones" structurally and they hoped to find ways to extend its life. After studying their options, including the possibility of building a new one, LHM officials have settled on a renovation as their preferred course of action.

Starks declined to discuss many specifics, including the project's price tag and timeline for completion. No plans or drawings have been completed, but LHM officials are close to making a formal announcement about the undertaking.

"We've had others come look at it and say it's in great shape," Starks said last year. "It's timeless in a lot of ways. … Hopefully this is an arena that's world class for the next 20-30 years."

The Jazz have been working with Icon Venue Group, a company that oversees the development and construction of facilities throughout the world. Icon recently has been involved in the restoration of Wrigley Field in Chicago, the construction of the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento and planning for the new home of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

Murray Beynon, of SCI Architects, is expected to be at the head of the project, The Tribune has learned. Beynon led the recent renovation of Madison Square Garden (MSG), a project that cost about $1 billion and took work over three offseasons to finish. In addition to MSG, Beynon's firm has handled a major renovation to the Forum in Los Angeles, former home of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Forum has since been purchased by Madison Square Garden Co.

Who will fund the Vivint SmartHome Arena overhaul is unclear. It is anticipated that the Jazz will pay for most of it, though there could also be a public component. In the past, team officials have said the Miller family would explore public funding options only if the renovations benefited other parts of downtown.

"It's not the Miller family's style to always actively seek public assistance," Starks said last year. "We want to do this in a way that is sustainable and healthy for us and benefits the community."

The arena's renovation is not expected to impede the Jazz from playing home games. A source with knowledge of the team's plan said the project will be phased, with most of the work occurring during offseasons, like the MSG rebuild.

Jazz officials have been looking for ways to increase premium seating, upgrade and expand concession and merchandising, improve traffic flow for fans inside and reduce the building's environmental footprint.

Six arenas used by NBA teams last season were older than Vivint, which debuted in fall 1991 as the Delta Center. Two of those franchises — Milwaukee and Sacramento — are building brand-new arenas, while another (Golden State) is trying to get an arena built in San Francisco. Madison Square Garden (erected in 1968), The Palace of Auburn Hills outside of Detroit (1988) and the Target Center in Minneapolis (1990) either have undergone major renovations or have plans to renovate.

The Jazz arena has undergone three name sponsorship changes since opening. It was originally known as the Delta Center and stayed that way until 2006, when the building was renamed EnergySolutions Arena. The name was shifted last year to its current moniker. In addition to being the home of the Jazz, the arena stages concerts and other major events. Team officials estimate more than 1.8 million visitors annually attend the 100-plus sports and entertainment events there.

The first steps in the team's efforts to overhaul the arena already have begun. The Jazz spent $25 million in improvements during the past five years, including $15 million for a new HD video board before the 2013-14 season.

The Delta Center originally cost $93 million to build, with 25 percent of that covered by public dollars that paid for infrastructure around the arena.

Other recent arena changes include an improved public address system; new court-side risers and seating; enlarged concourse entries with retail and food offerings; digital directional and concessions signs; addition of a Legends Club on the third level; the addition of two Fanzz sports stores and expansion of main team store; a daytime ticket office built at main entry; upgrades to VIP dining rooms; 12,000 square feet of concourse space added on Level 5 for food offerings, an in-game television studio and radio studio that houses 1280 The Zone; and energy improvements with Rocky Mountain Power.

Jazz officials have studied some of the league's other renovations, including a renovation to the San Antonio Spurs' arena and the planned remodel of the Target Center.

The renovation of Vivint coincides with other major face-lifts on and off the floor for the Jazz. In addition to general manager Dennis Lindsey and coach Quin Snyder being relatively new to the organization, the Jazz now have a new president in Starks, who replaced the retiring Randy Rigby.

The Jazz haven't made the postseason since 2012. But off the floor, the franchise continues to make moves, including bringing its D-League affiliate to Salt Lake City and returning its summer league to the city after a lengthy hiatus.

afalk@sltrib.com

@tribjazz

tjones@sltrib.com

@tjoneslstrib —

Oldest NBA arenas

Golden State • Oracle Arena, 1966

New York • Madison Square Garden, 1968

Detroit • Palace of Auburn Hills, 1988

Sacramento • Sleep Train Arena, 1988

Milwaukee • BMO Harris Bradley Center, 1988

Minnesota • Target Center, 1990

Utah • Vivint SmartHome Arena, 1991

Phoenix • Talking Stick Arena, 1992

Chicago • United Center, 1994

Cleveland • Quicken Loans Arena, 1994

 

 

 

 

 

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