The most noteworthy arena opening is in the NBA, where the Milwaukee Bucks moved a few hundred feet to the Fiserv Forum. Designers did a terrific job making the building unique as the arena really stands out from all the others in the Association. The folks at Arena Digest have a great recap of the new home for the Bucks (and Marquette). There were plenty of other expensive renovations across the league, most notably in Atlanta. An arena not even 20 years old received nearly $200 million in renovations to make it more “social”. Minnesota and Cleveland are undergoing multi-year renovations as well. For those that share their facility with an NHL team, we covered the other arena upgrades in the hockey post last month.
In the G-League, it’s more of the same…move the affiliate closer to the parent and remove any unique likeness from said team. This year, it’s the Sacramento Kings that do the honors as they decided to leave Reno after ten seasons. They save a whopping 1 hour and 15 minutes in drive-time by putting the franchise in Stockton, where they of course are going to be known as the “Kings”. Stockton Arena will now have AHL Hockey and G-League basketball this season, while up in Reno, the departure of the Bighorns means that the Reno Events Center is off The List. The Big Sky’s basketball tournament ended their three year run in the city and moved to Boise. On the flip side, other G-League news includes three new arenas, which is exciting. With a surprisingly generic name, DC opened the Entertainment and Sports Arena this fall. It is home to a team with a name that is anything but generic: the Capital City Go-Go. I think this 4,111-seat facility fits a niche market in a big city and it should be successful for not just the Go-Go, but also the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. While most in the arena world knew about the debut of the DC building, another arena to open was much quieter on the headline front. Close to the Mexican border in the Rio Grande Valley is Edinburg, Texas and despite a 15-year-old arena just 30 minutes away in Hidalgo, we see the opening of glistening Bert Ogden Arena. The Vipers move in to it from Hidalgo as owner and developer Alonso Cantu leads the way in Edinburg. Keep in mind this is also a city that just finished a pretty nice soccer specific stadium in the USL. The other arena change in the G-League is more of a practice facility. The renamed Delaware Blue Coats will use the 76ers new complex in Wilmington which includes a 2,500-seat arena.
Renovations remain the theme as we turn to college basketball. There are five teams that had such a transformation with their arena, that it could essentially be called a new building. Cincinnati, Houston, Northwestern, Portland State and Villanova all have finished an overhaul and as a result, we get to see some pretty nice basketball arenas. These changes were warranted, except maybe in Cincy where Fifth Third Arena was already in OK shape. The other four will enjoy massive changes and a more comfortable, fan-friendly arena. We also can’t forget that there is one new arena opening out of the 353 Division I Schools. Elon is the location as the Phoenix welcomed North Carolina for their opening debut of the Schar Center. I’ve gotta say that they have a snazzy fly-trough preview video and the arena looks awesome. But forward to 1:33 in…what in the world is a “Vomitorium for Team Areas”?!? Sounds disgusting. Also noteworthy are the two schools who have moved up to Division I from D2. North Alabama joins the Atlantic Sun Conference and they play out of long-time home Flowers Hall. The other team has an arena that just opened last year as Cal Baptist adds a sparking facility to the WAC.