"The Blender", "The Nest"
Smoothie King Center in 2014
|Former names||New Orleans Arena (1999-2014)|
|Address||1501 Dave Dixon Drive|
|Location||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Public transit|| Poydras Street|
New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal
|Owner||Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (The State of Louisiana)|
NBA Basketball: 16,867
College basketball/NBA playoff games: 18,500
Arena Football/Hockey: 16,900
|Broke ground||November 30, 1995|
|Opened||October 29, 1999|
|Construction cost||US$114 million|
($175 million in 2019 dollars)
|Architect||Arthur Q. Davis and Partners|
Hewitt Washington and Associates
|Project manager||CS Associates|
|Structural engineer||Walter P Moore|
|Services engineer||Smith Seckman Reid, Inc.|
|New Orleans Brass (ECHL) (1999-2002)|
New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans (NBA) (2002-2005, 2007–present)
New Orleans VooDoo (AFL) (2004-2005, 2007–2008, 2011-2015)
The Smoothie King Center is a multi-purpose indoor arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is located in the city's Central Business District, adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The arena opened in 1999 as New Orleans Arena and has been home to the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2002. The New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League played their home games in the arena from 2004 until the team disbanded in 2008. The VooDoo resumed play at the arena in March 2011, until after the 2015 AFL season when the franchise folded.
The arena was completed in 1999 at a cost of $114 million and officially opened on October 19, 1999. The arena seats 17,805 for concerts, 16,867 for Pelicans games, 18,500 for college basketball and Pelicans playoff games, and 16,900 for ice hockey and arena football. It has 2,800 club seats and 56 luxury suites.
The arena as a concert venue can seat 7,500 for half-stage shows, 17,221 for end-stage shows and 17,805 for a center-stage shows. For trade shows and conventions the arena features 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) of space. The ceiling is 65 feet (20 m) to beam and roof, 70 feet (21.5 m) to the top of the arena.
In 1999, the arena's first tenant, the New Orleans Brass ice hockey team of the ECHL played their first home game in the arena. The team played in the arena their last three seasons. When the New Orleans Hornets arrived in 2002, they persuaded the state government to demand that the Brass foot the cost of converting the arena between basketball and hockey configurations. That expense was more than the Brass were willing to pay, and they were forced to fold due to the lack of another suitable arena.
The Hornets played their first game at the Smoothie King Center versus the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2002.
Following Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, medical operations that had previously been housed in the Superdome were moved to the Arena. Medical personnel had been working in an area of the Superdome with poor lighting, leaking ceilings and soggy carpet. The Arena's design was tested in 1996 by CPP, a wind engineering consulting firm, so it fared far better than the Superdome during the storm and was in better condition to house sensitive medical operations. Thus, unlike the Superdome, the Arena reopened to activities only one month after the storm. On March 8, 2006, the Hornets played their first home game at the arena since Hurricane Katrina and the start of the 2005-06 season. A sellout crowd of 17,744, watched the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Hornets, 113-107.
In 2006, the arena installed an LED centerhung video and scoring system from Daktronics out of Brookings, South Dakota. The centerhung installation is made up of two ring displays and eight video displays, as well as scoreboards. This installation is fully integrated with the more than 875 feet (267 m) of ribbon display technology that was installed in the arena in 2002. In the summer of 2008, new Daktronics "see through" shot clocks were installed, replacing the existing box units.
The New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League resumed play at the arena in March 2011.
In 2013, the arena underwent a significant upgrade. The 2013 renovations were primarily focused for the gameday experience inside the arena. These upgrades include updates to the Suites and Club Levels, expanding the Club Levels, Creating new Loge Boxes, and a new Party Perch. Other upgrades include upgraded concession stands, upgraded LED boards, and other in-house amenities for the teams and performers that use the arena.
In September and October 2014, exterior renovations were made to the Smoothie King Center, including new entrances, painting the center from bluish green to light gray, and a new outer LED lighting system similar to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome's own. However, some original plans, such as to add an overhang to the building, were cancelled.
The Hornets/Pelicans have enjoyed a winning record of 341-275 (.554) during the regular season and 15-9 (.625) during the playoffs in home games played at the New Orleans Arena/Smoothie King Center as of the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
The seating capacity for NBA basketball games has gone:
Smoothie King Center has hosted the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, and the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, after the NBA pulled the game from Charlotte's Spectrum Center due to North Carolina's "bathroom bill".
In 2011, the arena hosted the Southeast Regional of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The arena also hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2007 and 2010.
The 2012 Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament was held at the arena.
The arena hosted the 2004 Women's Final Four and 2013 Women's Final Four. It has also hosted the 2008 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament South Regionals. The arena was set to host the 2020 Women's Final Four, before it was eventually canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The 2002 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Final Four was held at the New Orleans Arena in December 2002.