Venues welcome new additions to premium lineup
Whether it’s an exclusive speakeasy with high-end liquor in Portland, table service at the new Bucks arena in Milwaukee, or VIP areas at college football stadiums and NASCAR tracks, venues are debuting new spaces aimed at fulfilling premium fans’ changing desires.
“It’s important to kind of give people different areas to meet their needs, give them more options,” said Anthony Jones-DeBerry, vice president of premium seating and service for the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers have a new high-end club for fans sitting courtside at Moda Center. The 150-person exclusive bar was built out of unlikely space — the offices for the building’s housekeeping crew. Now it caters to a VIP crowd, serving bourbon, brandy and wine that runs $50 a glass or more.
“It’s primarily a drinking area. It’s more of a speakeasy kind of bar,” Jones-DeBerry said. “It’s the only place where you can get high-end liquor and high-end wines.”
The 1,300-square-foot space had a soft opening at the end of last year. It’s open to courtside seat holders and VIP guests, and the Trail Blazers are considering selling 30 private memberships to the club for $1,700 each. Fans now get snacks and small-plate appetizers at the new club but pay for drinks.
Here is a sampling of some of the other new and renovated luxury spaces hitting the market.
Projects: The Milwaukee Bucks’ new $524 million arena opens this NBA season.
The team is focused on offering a variety of premium options and touting their culinary aspects, according to Jamie Morningstar, senior vice president of ticket sales and service. She said most of the premium inventory of 34 suites, 33 lofts and 14 VIP tables has sold out.
The suites seat 12 to 26 people and run between $250,000 and $400,000 per year. Food and beverage are not included.
The lofts seat four to eight people and sell for $80,000 to $200,000 per year. Food and drinks, including beer, wine and liquor, are included. Lofts also get wait staff and menus set by the arena’s executive chef.
The tables seat four people and run between $20,000 and $30,000. Food, beer, wine and soda are part of that package.
Projects: Richmond Raceway will debut a $30 million redevelopment of its infield for the Sept. 21-22 NASCAR race weekend.
The infield project includes a new premium area that has rooftop seats overlooking victory lane. The area also has VIP parking and access to victory lane and garages. The Victory Lane Club has an open bar, premium food and visits from NASCAR celebrities.
Ticket packages for the space are $1,200 for the upcoming race weekend or $2,220 for the next two or $3,000 for the next three NASCAR weekends.
Auburn University / Jordan-Hare Stadium
Projects: The football stadium’s old press box has been redesigned into the high-end Broadway Club that opens this season. The 10,000-square-foot space includes heated seats with USB outlets and personal televisions and audio. Pricing was not available.
Auburn and architecture firm HOK also unveiled a new two-level premium and event space called the Tiger Walk Club. The air-conditioned space offers views of the Tiger Walk where Auburn players, coaches and fans walk to the stadium together. The 11,500-square-foot space is open before, during and after the game and can host special events. Memberships for that club are $1,575 per person annually. They include food and non-alcoholic drinks. A cash bar is available.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Projects: The NASCAR track has added 180 loge box seats along turns one and four, remodeled its club levels and added a social area called the Draft Bar.
LVMS debuted some of those loge boxes for the March race weekend and built more for this month’s race. The boxes cost $1,799 per person for two race weekends a year. The price includes food and drinks, including beer and wine, and in-seat wait service.
Club-level tickets for the South Point 400 NASCAR playoff race were $999 per person and included food and beverage.
The track also offered a new $1,200 VIP package for the race that included access to the premium Blackjack Club, VIP infield parking, garage access, private restrooms and all-inclusive food and drinks.
University of Arkansas / Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
Project: Arkansas has built 40 new suites, 68 loge boxes and 2,150 club seats as part of a $160 million stadium renovation. Populous is the architecture firm on that project. One new club seating area has an all-you-can-eat buffet. Other areas have access to new premium food and beverage areas. Pricing was not available.
Atlanta Hawks / State Farm Arena
Projects: The NBA arena is finishing up a $192 million renovation for the 2018 season. HOK designed new and renovated premium areas for the Hawks.
Atlanta Social is a new premium space where cabanas, tables, couches and lounge seats replace traditional seating. It has all-inclusive food, beer and wine.
Loft Suites are also debuting this season. They seat eight to 12 people with a club area behind them.
A new Topgolf Swing Suite is also opening that features a golf simulator and high-end food and drink. Topgolf is opening a similar suite at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
New lower-level Veranda Suites have communal, all-inclusive food and beverage areas, and a concept called the SWAG Shop will open this year. The SWAG shop is a partnership with Killer Mike’s Barber Shop and has four barber chairs with views of the court. Tickets include a shave and haircut.
The original building had 1,500 club seats, bunker suites and four levels of 20-person suites. “There were only three products,” said Hawks COO Thad Sheely. “It’s being replaced with seven different products with a huge diversity of products of how you entertain.”
Sheely said premium packages debuting this NBA season will have pricing that includes food and beverage, including beer and wine. The HawkBar courtside club has an exclusive bar where tickets include beer, wine and liquor.
Specific pricing was not available.
University of Missouri / Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium
Project: Missouri is rebuilding the south end zone at its football stadium. That part of the bowl is being taken out and replaced with a 2,500-person premium area and a new football training center.
The new South End Zone will feature new suites, club seats and a 750-person, membership-only, field-level club.
Construction is underway on the $100 million project, which is designed by architecture firm Populous, with completion in 2019.
Buyers of suites must make a $100,000 capital donation to the school, on top of the annual suite fees and ticket prices. That suite fee ranges between $40,000 and $45,000.
Missouri spokesman Nick Joos said more than half of the suites are sold and Legends is helping with the sales. Missouri was still figuring pricing for new club seats, he said. Food and beverage are not included in the suites or club packages.
Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks / United Center
Project: HOK is renovating the 5,000-square-foot premium restaurant, bar and premium space called the Ketel One Club. The redesign coordinates with a new Ketel One marketing campaign for its botanicals infused vodkas. The Ketel club is a members-only restaurant and bar. Memberships cost $375 per person per year.
The refurbished space, featuring a “farmhouse industrial” vibe, according to HOK, opened Saturday.
The Chicago arena also has opened the new Atrium bar. The bar will open before and after events and replaces mobile vendor carts used in the gathering and events space. The social space is open to fans on game nights but also hosts private and VIP events on other days.
The United Center’s 8,000-square-foot club suite level have also received new finishes and upgraded technology for the upcoming NHL and NBA seasons.
Project: The Phoenix area NASCAR track is going through a $178 million renovation that includes multiple premium upgrades.
The 300-person Dos Equis Curve area is among the upgrades. Curve includes an open bar for beer, wine, soda and water. Liquor is available at a cash bar. The space includes VIP parking and a private outdoor patio. The area is sold out for the NASCAR playoffs semifinal in November. Prices for that package were $1,399. The package will sell for $1,099 for the 2019 spring race.
The track also has a new two-person table option featuring padded chairs, USB ports and garage access. A three-day weekend pass runs between $599 and $699 for two people. Food and beverages are an additional charge. — M.S.