"The bones of this building are really strong, " new Miller Sports and Entertainment President Steve Starks says. "We've had others come look at it and say it's in great shape. It's timeless in a lot of ways. … Hopefully this is an arena that's world-class for the next 20-30 years."
Staying world-class in an ever-changing world, however, is rarely easy or cheap.
Since the doors opened and fans first flooded the Delta Center in October 1991, 22 new arenas have sprung up around the league. Six NBA arenas currently in use are older than EnergySolutions Arena:
• Oracle Arena in Oakland (1966)
• Madison Square Garden in New York (1968)
• BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee (1988)
• Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento (1988)
• The Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit (1988)
• Target Center in Minneapolis (1990)
And it won't take long before the home of the Utah Jazz creeps further up that list.
The Golden State Warriors are working through red tape in hopes of getting a new arena built across the Bay in San Francisco. The Kings have begun construction on a new arena in downtown Sacramento, Calif., backed by more than $200 million in public funding. And the Bucks, after levying the threat of a possible move to Las Vegas or Seattle, are seeing their request for $250 million in public funding fast-tracked through the Wisconsin legislature.
The exact details of each move vary — a desire for a better location, or a need for more luxury seating, clubs and bars — but the decisions are all aimed at maximizing revenue in an age of increasing operating costs.
"These stadiums become economically obsolete way, way before they become physically obsolete, " said Victor Matheson, an economics professor at Holy Cross University who studies professional sports venues. "They're tearing down perfectly good venues most countries would kill for."
Already in a prime location (unlike the Kings' Sleep Train) and in good working order (unlike the Bucks' home in Milwaukee), LHM officials are weighing all options, but would prefer to extend their building's life.
"The early preference is that … we'd like to continue to improve it because we have made meaningful investments along the way, " Starks said. "It would be foolish for us not to explore every option … but we're confident we could continue to invest in this arena and it would provide the type of facility that could house a championship-caliber team and provide best-in-class guest experiences. We don't feel like we have to start from scratch."2 Single page