Arena Risen: Utah Jazz and Ownership Unveil New J-Note Statue, Open Arena Doors
Salt Lake City—Twenty-six years ago, Larry and Gail Miller waited anxiously to open the doors of what was then the new Delta Center to the Utah community.
“Larry and I kind of held our breath thinking: what will they think? Will they like it? Will they approve? Will they support us?” reminisced Gail Miller, chairwoman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Tuesday. She detailed the relief she and Larry felt as the community fully embraced the arena and the Utah Jazz, and the sense of responsibility she has carried from that moment forward.
“We, as a family, are stewards of this important community resource. We knew then that we would need to ensure that the arena would continually exceeded the expectations and served the purpose of enriching our community,” she said.
It was that sense of responsibility that saw Miller and her family tasked again with that same sort of anxiety 26 years later, as they welcomed the Utah community into the newly renovated Vivint SmartHome Arena once more.
The home of the Utah Jazz underwent a $125 million renovation this past summer that includes a new 12,000 square-foot atrium, a new team store, redesigned upper and lower concourses, new local dining options, a refurbished locker room, and expanded social gathering spaces. The well-known bright green plastic chairs are now a thing of the past, as new “Jazz-blue” cushioned seats line the arena instead. All six of the floors, from the event floor to the nosebleeds, have felt the renovation love.
A different local restaurant anchors each of the four ‘corners’ of the lower bowl concourse: Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery, El Chubasco, Cubby’s and R&R Barbecue. Other local favorites, like CupBop and J. Dawgs, have fronts along the lower bowl as well, alongside mainstays like Farr’s Ice Cream and Iceberg Drive Inn.
The premium seats and club options have also been shored up, with a brand new Toyota Club area that will encompass the former Jazz premium clubs, including the former VIP Club and the Champions Club. The new area—which Toyota Club members will be able to access via seat-level entrances slotted neatly into the lower bowl—includes a lounge feel, see-through fireplace, expanded seating, a carving station and live cooking stations. The Utah Jazz and Vivint SmartHome Arena also partnered with premium sports dining company Levy to create Salted Honey Hospitality, which will bring fresh new catering options to the Utah Jazz and other sports companies under the LHM Sports & Entertainment umbrella.
The sole eight executive suites sit well-hidden but expertly crafted on the arena’s event level, for such lucky sponsors as Domo, Qualtrics, Vivint SmartHome, Zions Bank, and others.
On the sixth floor, new social gathering spaces have been placed in the corners of the arena, offering unparalleled views of downtown Salt Lake on one side, and a direct sight line over the hardwood on the interior sides.
Jim Olsen, president of Vivint SmartHome Arena, listed off some staggering numbers regarding the remodel: 2,000 workers compiling 500,000 man hours, 200 trucks of concrete, 3,000 new LED light fixtures, 17,500 ceiling tiles—and perhaps most impressively, the mere 129 days it took to complete.
“We had just four months to complete what would usually be done in a year or two years’ time. However, just like how Gail and Larry years ago took a leap of faith to keep the Jazz here, we felt a sense of responsibility to do our part,” said Brett Okland, president of Okland Construction, which was the general contractor for the renvovation. “As members of the community and as big Jazz fans, our decision was 100 percent clear—we needed to take part.”
The Okland team finished the project just ahead of its deadline: Wednesday night’s Faith Hill and Tim McGraw concert at the arena. The final crowning piece of the construction was the 13-foot tall, 21-foot wide J-Note statue (a 3D replica of the Jazz’s primary logo) on the plaza outside of the arena’s main entrance. The statue, which LHM Sports and Entertainment president Steve Starks said was installed “under the cover of darkness” Monday night, “will serve as a community gathering place,” said Starks.
“It’s the same old building, but it’s a new building, and it has a new spirit and it welcomes you,” said Miller. “I can’t wait for all of you to see it. Our family is committed to working to ensure that the Jazz and the Vivint SmartHome Arena continue to bring our community together and serve as a light to the city, the state, and the world, for generations to come.”