NBA Arena Showcase: Smoothie King Center
Over the next few days, NBA All-Star Weekend will take place at the Smoothie King Center in downtown New Orleans. The 18-year-old venue serves as the home arena of the New Orleans Pelicans. The facility sits immediately adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as well as the 90,000-square-foot Champions Square. The mega sports and entertainment complex boasts of 7,000 parking spots and is found one mile from the French Quarter.
The building originally opened in 1999 as the New Orleans Arena, at a cost of $114 million. The then Charlotte Hornets relocated to New Orleans in 2002, with the franchise rebranding as the Pelicans in 2013.
Amid the horrific destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the building served as a medical operations headquarters during both the storm and recovery. As a result, the New Orleans NBA team spent parts of two seasons playing home games in Oklahoma City.
In 2013, the arena underwent a $54 million upgrade. The building’s current manifestation includes a seating capacity of just under 17,000, a 20,000-square-foot lobby, 56 luxury suites, 16 loge boxes and a Pelicans team store.
From a club standpoint, the arena design features the North and South Clubs, located on the Mezzanine Level (North Club pictured below), the Hub Club, found on the suite level, as well as the Courtside Club and Chairman’s Club, situated on the event floor level.
The 12,000-square-foot Chairman’s Club (pictured below) sits in close proximity to the Pelicans locker-room.
Photos Courtesy: Smoothie King Center Sales Kit
Because it is New Orleans, the Smoothie King Center lays claim to some very unique hometown cuisine. A sampling of the Louisiana focused grub includes jambalaya, BBQ shrimp, cauliflower grits and three types of po’boy (catfish, seafood, shrimp).
Metairie, Louisiana based Smoothie King became the arena’s naming rights holder in 2014, upon signing a 10-year agreement with the state of Louisiana, who owns and operates the building.