SALT LAKE CITY — A massive project that required 129 days, 200 trucks of concrete, 2,000 workers, 3,000 LED light fixtures, 17,500 ceiling tiles, 100,000 bolts for many of the 18,300ish cushioned seats, 500,000 man hours and countless hours of planning and beads of sweat from the Okland Construction-led crew — not to forget $125 million — has been completed.
On time, even. After one heck of a busy summer, Vivint Arena is open again. The Utah Jazz will leave the new J-Note light on for you.
With tears in her eyes and gratitude in her voice Tuesday morning, Jazz owner Gail Miller opened the doors to her family’s renovated home away from home and welcomed the world back to a cherished Utah hot spot that has hosted thousands of sporting events and entertainment shows since first opening in 1991.
“It’s the same old building,” Miller said, “but it has a new spirit, and it welcomes you.”
Let the games and concerts begin.
Legendary country singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are first up on Wednesday night.
The Jazz, who had quite the 26-year ride in the original arena, will then take center court three times next week in preseason action.
Early reviews of the overhaul have been overwhelmingly positive. The Miller family, which owns the building and the NBA team, hosted an open house for the public on Tuesday after giving season-ticket holders a sneak preview of the arena last week. Employees who worked on the renovation were invited to a test-run concert by “Fight Song” singer Rachel Platten a week ago.
“It looks amazing,” Jazz fan Mike England said after walking through the arena Tuesday morning. “It just looks updated. It looks modern. We’re going to be excited to go to a Jazz game.”
Jazz president Steve Starks liked how the changes — from sprucing up the exterior to widespread changes on all six interior levels — were described as making the building appear more “cosmopolitan” than previously.
“Somebody said the arena looks grown up,” Starks said.
The details — from the signage with basketballs and a unique Jazz font, the breathtaking views of the arena bowl from the opened-up corners, the stylish and expansive clubs and suites to the new cushioned seats — are dazzling.
Before the open house began, the Jazz unveiled a new focal point — a 14-foot-by-21-foot navy, green and gold J-note statue that will be illuminated at night — on the northeastern plaza that is certain to become a popular feature for fans.
That large J-note, which Starks called “iconic,” is situated in front of a new 12,000-square-foot atrium, which includes open space for fans to gather, an exclusive Jazz Team Store, a relocated box office and a newly created view into the arena from a spectator-friendly concourse-level porch.
“I think this entry is really the most beautiful part of it, the way it welcomes people and the way it looks and the openness of it — the space that it provides for people to get in out of the weather and to enjoy that first look,” Miller said. “It gives people that first impression of, ‘Wow, something exciting’s going to happen.'”
For Miller, the renovation is about more than just concrete, rebar and new blue seats. It’s more than just about enhanced security (best in the NBA), luxury suites, clubs that can host 1,700 people, more bathrooms, cup holders, a variety of local cuisine options and an increased amount of concession spots, thousands of solar panels, free public Wi-Fi, 400-plus TVs and even the largest locker room in the league, too.
“It’s about enriching lives in our community,” Miller said. “This arena will continue to bring our community together and serve as a light to the city, state and world for generations to come.”
Miller told a group of several hundred gathered for Tuesday’s festivities that she hopes the building will be put to use in 2026 when some are trying to bring the Winter Olympics back to the state.
Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, admitted to experiencing many of the same emotions she did in 1991 when she and her husband, the late Larry H. Miller, nervously and excitedly opened the arena up to the public for the first time.
“It’s just represented such a huge part of my life and my family’s life,” Miller said of the building that was originally called the Delta Center. “You can’t invest that kind of commitment without feeling emotional.”
While looking back at the “very touching” grand opening that happened 26 years ago, Miller proudly looks forward to the grand re-opening as the organization opens the doors on the franchise’s future, one that is guaranteed to include the Jazz remaining in Utah because of their legacy trust.
“The Jazz and the building cannot be separated,” Miller said. “They’re here to stay.”
By Jody Genessy