Itinerant Fan

Vivint Smart Home Arena

In Salt Lake City, primarily known around the world as the center of the Mormon faith, there’s plenty of room for sports fandom. Utah is renowned for its ski resorts, some of which are just an hour’s drive from the city center. The University of Utah, located a few miles east of downtown, boasts strong programs in football and men’s basketball, among other sports. And don’t forget that the city hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, and vestiges of those games can still be found around the city.

And of course, there’s the Utah Jazz, the city’s beloved NBA franchise which plays downtown at Vivint Smart Home Arena. It’s been a while since the Jazz enjoyed their John Stockton/Karl Malone-led heyday in what was then known as the Delta Center, but the local fans’ love for the team hasn’t diminished despite some lean seasons.

Jazz home games continue to be one of the most popular events in Salt Lake, for locals and visitors alike, and its home arena can be one of the loudest in the league — especially if the team is enjoying a strong season, as it was when we paid a visit.

  •   The Approach

    Occupying an entire city block, Vivint Smart Home Arena — which had its name changed from EnergySolutions Arena prior to the 2015-16 season — is just one attraction in a vibrant downtown district in which there’s plenty to see and do (more on that later). The venue is easy to get to as well, as Interstates 15 and 80 meet just west of the area. Many of the city’s major hotels are within a short walk.

    As is typical of a downtown venue, parking selection largely consists of numerous structures and lots in the surrounding blocks. The nearby Triad Center office complex and City Creek Center shopping mall offer some of the largest structures. You can view a parking map here. Free and metered parking is also available on nearby streets for intrepid, bargain-hunting drivers. (Though there are marking for such spaces directly in front of the arena, don’t count on cashing in on them — they are typically used by police and other support vehicles on gamedays.)

    If you’ve never been to Salt Lake City, you might find their rather unusual street naming system a little confusing. The center of the street grid is Temple Square, a few blocks east of the arena, so know that if you’re near a Temple Street (there are streets named Temple running both north-south and east-west, adding to the potential confusion for a visitor), you’re close. If all else fails, just follow the fans walking to the game, and there’ll be plenty of them on city sidewalks as gametime approaches.

    Salt Lake City’s ever-expanding TRAX light rail system runs through downtown as well — get off from the Blue or Green lines at the Arena station, on South Temple just north of the venue, or via the Planetarium station on the Blue Line along North 400 West.

    UTA Rail’s FrontRunner commuter train can be used to get to the game from the city’s outskirts as well. Get off at North Temple Bridge and walk two blocks to the arena.

  •   The Build-Up

    Booking.com

    The focus on religion in Utah may lead you to believe that there’s little for sports fans to do prior to the game, but downtown Salt Lake City has the same restaurant and nightlife scene a visitor would expect to see in any major city, and most of the nearby spots are well-frequented by basketball fans on game days.

    A major shopping center called The Gateway occupies two city blocks just west of the arena, and it includes several restaurants as well as a food court. Head to the blocks south of the venue for a better selection of establishments, including locally based Red Rock Brewery, popular sports bar Lumpy’s Downtown, and fast-food chain Crown Burgers, where you can try a local specialty — pastrami burgers with a condiment called fry sauce.

    If drinking’s your thing, you can find a list of downtown Salt Lake City bars here.

    While you’re in the vicinity, take some time to check out Temple Square, where you can learn the history of the Mormon faith in Utah. Across the street from it is the City Creek shopping center, also where many of the downtown area’s major hotels are located.

  •   The Ambiance

    Opened in 1991, Vivint Smart Home Arena continues to hold up well among its contemporaries, with a sizable but not too large seating bowl, good sight lines and an updated center-court videoboard. Still, owing to the venue’s age, the team is embarking on a series of improvements in order to bring it up to date with features offered at other NBA arenas.

    The concourses and aisles are easy to navigate, with two main concourses and a club level in between (note that there are no escalators around between them, so get ready to climb stairs to go between them). The width of the seating sections can be surprisingly narrow as well — as few as eight seats in some cases — making it easier than at most arenas to leave your seat to get another beer while the action is going on.

    Outside, the arena is surrounded by four triangular plazas, created by the square-shaped building sitting diagonally on a square-shaped block. Be sure to visit the plaza on the southeast corner (next to the intersection of 300 West and 100 South) to see the statues of the Jazz’s two legends, John Stockton and Karl Malone.

    Most of the same concessions options are available on both main concourse levels, and a few more adventurous choices are out there, including: Cupbop (Korean BBQ meat and rice in a cup), Korean tacos (of food cart fame) and dirty soda (a Utah specialty, basically regular soda with different flavorings added). Also check out another Utah favorite, the Iceberg Drive-Inn stands, for their thick shakes, made so that the shake stands a few inches above the upper lip of the cup. Fast-food chains Chick-fil-A and Papa John’s also operate stands inside. You can find a map of the arena food selection here.

    There are also two lounge areas for diners on Level 5, named, appropriately enough, the Stockton and Malone lounges.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Utah Jazz

Address
301 West South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Year Opened
1991

Capacity
19,911

Upcoming Events
All times local
Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz
Saturday, October 21, 2017
7:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz
Saturday, October 28, 2017
7:00 pm
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Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz
Monday, October 30, 2017
7:00 pm
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Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
7:00 pm
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Toronto Raptors at Utah Jazz
Friday, November 3, 2017
7:00 pm
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