The big bathroom look is gone. And that’s just part of the changes and improvements nearing completion at Smoothie King Center, home of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Work began in late March on enhancing the appearance of the arena. The primary consideration has been to give Smoothie King Center a distinct front entrance by enlarging it and improving its appeal.
Part of the enhancements include changing the color of the arena’s exterior, which since it was constructed in 1999 has been a pattern of various shades of green that many frequenting the former New Orleans Arena said reminds them of a powder room.
“We’ve heard that and other comments about the color of the building,” said Ed Lang, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Saints and Pelicans.
Lang called the new color, which workers began applying Thursday, is a light gray. Alan Freeman, general manager of SMG, which manages the Superdome and Smoothie King Center, called it kind of a silver.
“It’s going to be a good surface for the light treatments that are going to be installed next year,” Freeman said.
Improvement include enlarging the team sports apparel shop, moving the ticket box office near the new entrance, and adding a sports bar.
The improvements are Phase II of improving the building’s appearance. This phase is scheduled to be completed Oct. 1, before a Katy Perry concert Oct. 8, Paul McCartney on Oct. 11, and the Pelicans’ preseason opener Oct. 14.
Cost of this phase is $16 million, with the total project costing $50 million. Phase I, which involved improvements to the interior, was done last year.
The paint job will be a nice, needed touch, but the new entrance way really will give Smoothie King Center a face-lift, Lang and Freeman said. During a tour last year, officials said the idea of an impressive chandelier to give it a distinctive look was discussed, but that appears to be on hold for now.
Lang said the entrance way will be distinctive, nonetheless.
“I’ll describe it as a two-story atrium,” he said. “Before, when you walked into the lower level, you really had no view of the upper main level. It’s an expanded view now.”
Freeman said banners may be placed there now, but the idea is for the area to be available for a sponsorship.
The ticket box office, previously tucked in the right corner of the arena, now will be to the left of the main entrance and expanded with more service windows.
The team apparel store, which adidas began managing last year, will be 5,100 square feet. It will have a much higher ceiling, which will provide space for merchandise. It has two sides of glass so the apparel will be clearly displayed to fans entering the arena.
Both Lang and Freeman seemed excited about another amenity: the addition of a 2,100-square-foot sports bar.
“It will be accessible from the 100 level, which is basically the main concourse of the building,” Lang said. “The new sports bar will look out toward Champion’s Square (across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome). “It has a glass front. You’ll be able to see the downtown view from the sports bar.”
It also will have an outside deck.
“That sports bar will have a dual purpose, because it can be accessed from the exterior also without going into arena,” Freeman said. “There are some ideas that it may be a piece of property that we can lease out by itself, if the arena is not being used.”