The freshly remonikered New Orleans Pelicans hold their preseason home opener tonight, which will give Pelican fans their first chance to see the just-completed renovations to the New Orleans Arena:
Now there are 16 new loge boxes in the lower bowl, which are already sold out for the upcoming season, that includes swivel seating and LED monitors. There’s a party perch in the upper bowl where fans can order drinks and mingle at a bar and the Pelicans are considering adding live entertainment that could include a band playing during games.
Most of the new gimmicks, though, are for fans in the expensive seats: a 12,000-square-foot “Chairman’s Club” that will allow 150 courtside season ticket holders to see into the hallway outside the Pelicans’ locker room, plus another club expanded to include a wine room and fire fountain. (Editor’s note: No, I have no idea what a wine room and fire fountain are. And I’m not going to Google them either, as I prefer to stick with my mental image, which looks a lot like this.)
Pelicans owner Tom Benson no doubt hopes to make a bundle on selling high-priced tickets via the lure of these glitzy amenities, but even if he doesn’t, no worries: It’s all being paid for by the state of Louisiana, as agreed to as part of a ten-year lease extension when Benson bought the team last year. Plus he gets $3.65 million a year in tax breaks, in case he can’t boost his profits by his own self. Which is just as you’d expect Benson to negotiate, given that as owner of the Saints he pretty much invented pay-to-play leases.