There is not much change in the arena world of basketball this season as only two new arenas opened at all levels of the sport. In the NBA, we have a pair of new names as Phoenix now plays in Talking Stick Resort Arena, while out in Salt Lake City, “Vivint Smart Home Arena” is the renamed facility that the Jazz play in. What a terrible name and what’s the deal with this place. It was nice and tidy with Delta as the early sponsor. The switch to “EnergySolutions” and now “Vivint” sounds awful. Down a level to the expanding NBA D-League, the newest franchise is Raptors 905. You read that right. Not only is the name bad, but this is another example of a trend that dismisses the smaller city in favor of branding the professional franchise. In case you are wondering, the “905” comes from the zip code surrounding Toronto. This franchise will play in Mississauga at the Hershey Centre, where the Steelheads of the OHL play.
In College Basketball, there are two new arenas opening. Rather quietly down in Oxford, MS, the end is coming for the Tad Smith Coliseum as the University is set to open The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Delays have pushed the grand opening to Jan 7 for the Alabama game. Those blah SEC arenas built in the 1960s and 70s from Louisiana to Georgia are starting to go away, which is a good thing. I really like Auburn’s new arena and Ole Miss’ Pavilion should be great as well. The other new place is Baxter Arena, for DI-newbie Omaha. I mentioned this one a few months ago as the arena doubles as a hockey home for the school too.
Otherwise, there are several renovations, most notably in the land of the Orange Crush. The makeover to State Farm Arena has forced the Illini to start their season at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, which has not been kind so far. Another orange team is seeing an arena makeover as Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum becomes modernized. In the Ohio Valley, there are a pair of teams doing similar things: Removing nearly 2000 seats for nice new chairs and improving fan amenities. Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech are the recipient of those changes. Finally, one thing I can’t figure out is what is happening at UTSA (San Antonio). The Roadrunners media guide says Seating Capacity is 2,700 for their Convocation Center and it is temporary. The Google Machine could not find any renovation results or why this may be temporary. I’d be curious to find out what’s going on.