Smoothie King Center – New Orleans Pelicans
The Benefits of Location
New Orleans has a history of NBA basketball with its 1st NBA team being the New Orleans Jazz whose organization left New Orleans after a few short seasons of poor play for the greener pastures of Salt Lake City, Utah in 1979. The Smoothie King Center started off as New Orleans Arena in 1999. The Smoothie King Center/New Orleans Arena was built with the intention of bringing back NBA basketball to New Orleans. Smoothie King Center/New Orleans Arena’s 1st NBA team was the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets organization came from Charlotte, North Carolina looking to start fresh in a new city during the 2002/2003 season. The Hornets/Pelicans first two seasons were part of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The Hornets/Pelicans were moved into the NBA’s Western Conference after their first two seasons in order to even out the number of teams in each conference after the city of Charlotte in North Carolina added the Charlotte Bobcats to the NBA’s family during the 2004/2005 season.
Just after the 2004/2005 season the city of New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. The city of New Orleans was in such ruins that the Hornets/Pelicans organization was moved to Oklahoma City for two seasons while the city of New Orleans was rebuilt. During the rebuilding of the city rescue services started off using the much bigger Super-Dome as base of operations but soon had to move into Smoothie King Center/New Orleans Arena because the Smoothie King Center/New Orleans Arena stood tall during the hurricane and turned out to be the sturdier of the two neighboring arena / stadium structures. The team returned to New Orleans for the 2007/2008 NBA season and was awarded the 2008 NBA All Star games in order to help boost the spirits and economy of the rebuilding city of New Orleans.
There were many upgrades made to the arena in 2013. The upgrades were standard and were necessary things like upgrading premium seating, switching to LED lighting, painting, and updating and upgrading concessions and interactive concourse stations. The 2013/2014 season also started with a name change to The New Orleans Pelicans to represent something more local. While The Jazz might have been a perfect name, Utah is not interested in giving up their name. New Orleans chose their state bird, the Brown Pelican, as their team’s mascot and the name Hornets was once again picked up by its original team in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Pelicans have never had much success in the way of winning and only have one Southwest Division Title from 2008 to be proud of but they have always given exciting game play and they have produced fan favorite league stars like Chris Paul and Anthony Davis. The teams might not be epic, but they are worth watching.
Food & Beverage 4
Smoothie King Center concessions offers all of the general stadium snacks and foods such as popcorn and hot dogs, etc. Smoothie King Center also has a Cajun food stand featuring Zatarain’s spices.
Smoothie King Center has many different concessions stands that offer foods you might want and some foods you didn’t even know you might want to try. General arena food like pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, and nachos are well represented as well as items like alligator po’boy sandwiches, jambalaya and crawfish pie. The food served is of high quality and is served nice and hot.
Smoothie King Center has Coke products available in fountain style or in the bottle. Smoothie King Center has a variety of beer and alcohol sold throughout the area, and Smoothie King Center also sells fresh blended Smoothie King smoothies.
I recommend trying a uniquely New Orleans bite to eat at the Triple B’s Cajun Corner concession stand. A Grilled Alligator Sausage Po’Boy pairs well with an ice cold Coke.
Smoothie King Center is a general NBA arena. Besides the party atmosphere that fills the city around the arena, there is nothing remarkable or bad to be said about the Pelicans experience.
Smoothie King Center is a utilitarian arena. There is not much in the way of a theme to the architecture. The arena has memorabilia throughout the vemue with all the usual things that you find in an NBA arena such as an NBA 2k station / game area, loads of bathrooms, concessions stands, sign making stands, and season ticket holder sign up stands. The seats in the arena are standard cushioned seats with cup holders and legroom is also standard. This arena has a large scoreboard. I do find that the six monitors around the arena that display info, are very small in size in comparison to other NBA arenas. This is a very plain looking arena.
The Pelicans organization is blessed with a city of performers and this is shown during time outs and half time. The children’s brass band that played during a time out was one of the best local entertainment groups that I’ve ever seen in any NBA arena. The team’s mascot (Pierre the Pelican) and the Pelicans Dance team are active throughout the game with skits and T-Shirt tosses. The overall accomplishment of the activities and promotions is high quality.
Premium sections 123 – 124 & 101 – 102 face the floor logo and any of the seats within these sections are my recommendation for great game views and high chances of getting a giveaway item during a shirt or ball toss. Seats located behind the hoops (lower or upper level) will have blocked views of the court so I don’t recommend sitting there. Seats behind the hoops are usually the cheapest seats in an arena so if those seats are what is affordable in your budget then being in the arena is always better than not being in the arena.
New Orleans is a world class destination. People come from all over our planet to take in the sites, indulge in decadent foods and drinks, and experience New Orleans’ one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Smoothie King Center is located in the Central Business District within walking distance of most of everything that a tourist could want or need from New Orleans. I recommend staying in the Central Business District if you want a more family friendly New Orleans stay. Tourist / arena / stadium areas are well lit and patrolled by lots of security and police and seem to be safe. If you want the full New Orleans experience I recommend staying in the down and dirty French Quarter. If you are not into a wild hard partying atmosphere then I recommend staying away from Bourbon Street, located in the French Quarter. While being known for many things world class, New Orleans is also known for world class crime. Be aware of your surroundings and stay in the tourist type areas or with a travel group.
New Orleans has many world class foods to enjoy. I recommend trying some local sea food at Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant located one mile from Smoothie King Center. I also recommend more local seafood at Oceana Grill located 1.5 miles from Smoothie King Center. Be aware that high quality food can be expensive in New Orleans so be ready to spend.
If you are an NFL fan one of this season’s (2018-2019) more exciting teams, the New Orleans Saints, play at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome which is located directly next door to Smoothie King Center. You can’t go wrong with seeing some of New Orleans historic sites in Jackson Square 1.5 miles from Smoothie King Center sitting just off the Great Mississippi River. There are so many things to see and do around New Orleans that I recommend purchasing a spot in a tour group.
There are so many types of places to stay for every budget. I recommend staying at Hotel Le Marais if you want to stay in the French Quarter and get the down and dirty New Orleans experience. Hotel Le Marais is located 1.5 miles from Smoothie King Center and it sits just off Bourbon Street. I also recommend staying at Holiday Inn New Orleans – Downtown Superdome for a more budget and family friendly stay at a well-known hotel chain. Holiday Inn New Orleans – Downtown Superdome is located .5 miles from Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans fans in attendance follow the game intently. There are some in attendance that seem to be arena regulars along with just as many New Orleans visitors out on the town for the night. I would have to say that the Pelicans local fan base might be small but strong.
According to ESPN’s 2017/2018 and current 2018/2019 Attendance Reports the Pelicans have been in the bottom five out of 30 teams attendance. The Pelicans attendance is somewhat confusing considering the amount of people that visit the city of New Orleans daily and the dominating franchise player the team has in Anthony Davis.
At the game of this review, the majority of Pelicans fans in attendance didn’t seem to be overly into the game, but did seem excited to see fast paced action and rewarded the team with cheers and claps of praise after incredible game play.
Smoothie King Center is very easy to navigate to and nicely laid out in the interior. Fans won’t have any issue finding the arena or navigating once within.
Smoothie King Center recommends using the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority to find times and details for the many available modes of public transportation to and from Smoothie King Center.
The New Orleans Pelicans organizations recommends parking in Mercedes-Benz Superdome garages 1, 2, 5 and 6 up to 3 hours before tip-off at the price of $20
There are only two entrance areas with multiple door and ticket handlers. The main entrance is located at the front of the building while almost overhead on a walkway from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the second entrance area. Security is general for an NBA arena and the lines move very quickly checking your clothing and pockets.
Smoothie King Center has a well laid out concourse with well dispersed bathrooms, concession stands and entrances into the seating areas. The flow of the upper level concourse does have an issue. There are normal steps but only one escalator that goes up to the upper level before and during the game. I was told that 10 minutes before the game ends the escalator would be set to only go down. For handicapped fans and fans that don’t want to power walk up or down lots of steps this can be an issue. Other than the upper level escalator issue, I find the arena to be very easy to traverse.
Return on Investment 4
In a city like New Orleans where the locals first love is NFL football and NBA basketball is fighting for some attention with food, partying, and miscellaneous entertainment, the Pelican organization does a fair job. The game play is great and the non-game play times are filled with music and local entertainers to keep the fans invested in the event.
The Pelicans are ranked next to last in affordability this 2018-2019 season among all NBA teams. Pelican’s ticket prices can range from low double digit cash amounts to thousands of dollars depending on where you want to sit and what game you want to attend. A previous actual cost for a Pelicans vs Suns game on November 10, 2018 was $179 (taxes & fees included) per seat in one of the recommended Premium sections of 124 Row 6, $18 (taxes included) for a grilled alligator & sausage po’boy with a bottle of Coke, $20 for parking. $414 gets two fans great seats with food/drink and parking. Depending on your budget there is a great time to be had in Smoothie King Center.
The Pelicans have multiple cost saving promotions that are centered on purchasing at least 4 tickets at a time and receiving with each seat a combo meal or drinks and some sort of gift card.
For more information concerning ticket cost I recommend reviewing a past article here at Stadium Journey, “How to Get the Best Seats for Your Budget.” We also recommend checking out Ticket Monster for good ticket prices.
Smoothie King Center is not a bucket list must do arena but it is part of a world famous city that adds to its appeal. Within walking distance of the arena there is world class food, music and history that can be touched and seen. Many NBA fans might not travel just to see a Pelicans game but they do travel across the world to experience the city of New Orleans and the Pelicans are lucky enough to be part of that New Orleans experience. The New Orleans Pelicans enjoy the benefits of location.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
The atmosphere at a New Orleans Pelicans game will depend entirely on the day of the week you visit the Smoothie King Center, as well as the opponent visiting on any particular evening. Crowds vary greatly depending on these factors.