The email arrived early last May. The Utah Jazz were offering several hundred season tickets for the 2014-15 season at a special price. The price? The cost per game would equal the draft slot the Jazz received during the upcoming Draft Lottery.
It took my brain a second to understand that. If the Jazz got lucky and landed the #1 pick, I could watch a full season of the Jazz’ promising young core PLUS Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker for $44? Even if they landed in their predicted #4 slot, I could buy two season tickets to NBA basketball for less than $400?
I took a breath, prepped my pitch to my wife (I wouldn’t go to all the games. It would be nice to share them with friends. It would be a way to have one-on-one time with each of our two boys) and she magically agreed!
A couple of weeks later, when the Jazz landed the #5 spot, I was the proud owner of two season tickets to three pre-season and 41 regular season games for the grand total of $440. Not quite the insane bargain the top pick would have been, but still remarkable.
A little more than halfway into the season, I’m pleased with the experience of being a season ticket holder. I’ve been to roughly half the team’s 24 home games, and have given away about half of the others to grateful friends.
I’ve seen several incredibly fun games, including the wire-to-wire romp over the Golden State Warriors 10 days ago. A big comeback over the Thunder a few weeks into the season. A super entertaining game against the T-Wolves just after Christmas.
And, of course, THIS, which was so remarkable my 10-year-old even cried a bit. (OK, that was me maybe.)
A very positive experience, all in all. The boys and I have had fun. However, as a guy who is lousy with opinions, a few ideas have been kicking around my head as to how I think the Jazz can improve the fan experience. They range from the trivial, to the more significant, to the utterly trivial.
The team’s introduction of its starters is fun, overall. The kids go nuts when the bear rides out, when the flames shoots up in the air, when the smoke billows. But then this starts:
Isn’t basketball supposed to be fun? Or is it moody, depressing and a chore? I’m sure that whoever directed the video told the players and the coach they should look intense. Serious. Deadpan. Angry, even. Why? It makes me feel like I’m at the world’s most depressing all-ages concert with a bunch of moody teenagers dressed in black drinking a Robitussin on ice.
Basketball should be about exuberance. Excitement! Jumping up and down. Big smiles. Finger waves!
Drop the moody, angst-ridden intro video, please.
If you haven’t been to a Jazz game this season or last, you’ll be blown away by their new scoreboard setup. Not only do the giant screens hanging over the floor offer amazing closeups of the action on the floor, especially useful during replays, but there are also huge, new scoreboards in each of the four corners of the arena, offering a running boxscore of the game. It’s great to see who’s on the floor (especially for the road team, when you may not know who the heck Jerami Grant is) and to watch their points, rebounds and assists grow in real time.
However, as a amateur analyst of the Jazz — again, lousy with opinions — I would LOVE to see minutes played. As a guy who wants to see more of certain guys (The Stifle Tower!) and less of others (sorry, Jose English) I find myself looking over there several times a game wondering who Coach Snyder has been playing more and less that night, to no avail. The boards do have limited real estate, so my recommendation would be to lose the steals column, a stat I’m much less interested in.
Look, going to a game is cheesy fun. That Kiss Cam/t-shirt cannon nonsense is goofy and silly — and it works. Heck, I’m even onboard with the Funhouse Cam.
But the “oi, oi, oi” sound effect played after Dante Exum or Joe Ingles score a basket? Nope.
What’s next? A Crocodile Dundee clip? A “shrimp on the barbie” reference?
We’re better than this, Utah.
The food and drink you can buy at the arena has improved the past few years. When I first attended a game after we moved here in 2006, there wasn’t much beyond limp burgers and hot dogs and tasteless mass market beers.
Eight years later, local micro-brews are easy to find and there’s now even several small bars with a wide range of offerings, including a Wasatch Squatters Pub. And, food-wise, there’s an Iceberg shake stall, a terrific addition, plus a few other spots offering better-than-cafeteria-style sandwiches and more.
Nonetheless, the arena’s food offerings remain pretty poor overall. To me, the Iceberg/Squatters additions are the ones to emulate. More extensions of popular local eateries. What about a Caputo’s? A Soup Kitchen? A Bruges Waffles and Frites?
Or, to take it a step further, which eateries are best at offering delicious, gourmet food in a very small prep and cooking space? Food trucks! There’s the venerable and always excellent Chow Truck. A few other favorites: Q4U Barbecue, Lewis Bros.,and Better Burger. See a fairly up-to-date list here.
Food truck stalls in the arena, please!
So, not surprisingly, my $5 season tickets are in the upper, upper bowl. I’m not complaining — again, $5 — but it’s impossible to not have envy for those lower bowl ticket holders. If you’ve watched a game down there, it’s just a different experience. You appreciate the athleticism and the sheer size of these men so much more. You can hear so much more of the chatter between players and coaches.
The young Jazz are of course in mid-rebuilding mode, so it comes as no surprise that on most nights, there are many empty seats, even in the lower bowl. Hundreds, certainly. A few thousand, some nights.
I first saw the following proposal from someone on Twitter, but can’t recall who. (If someone knows, I’ll happily stick their name in here to credit them) And the idea, which I’ve developed some, was the following:
Whaddya think? Any other fan experience improving ideas to share in the comments?
P.S. Dear Jazz Marketing/Ticketing Folks: If you wanted to test the “Share the Lower Bowl Love” plan, I’d be happy to be your guinea pig for the rest of the 2015 season. You know, just turn my row 21 upper bowl seats into, let’s say, row 21 lower bowl seats, and I’ll offer my frank assessment of the difference. I’m here to help.