Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Pelicans broadcasters roundtable: Favorite NBA arena

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Pelicans.com’s five-broadcaster panel did not reach much of a consensus last week while selecting their favorite arenas within the Southwest Division. The same holds true for their preferred venues among the NBA’s other five divisions, with a wide range of buildings receiving mention, including Moda Center, Chase Center, United Center, Staples Center, Golden 1 Center, Fiserv Forum, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Madison Square Garden and Little Caesars Arena. That’s roughly one-third of the league’s 29 buildings. Coincidentally – or perhaps not – that list includes each of the four NBA arenas that have opened since 2016 (at Sacramento, Detroit, Milwaukee and Golden State), as well as the league’s oldest structure (New York).

What’s your favorite road arena to visit in the rest of the NBA and why?

John DeShazier, Pelicans radio

The temptation is to say Oracle Arena, but the Warriors don’t play there anymore. Pound for pound – or maybe “brick for brick” is more appropriate – it was as loud as an arena could be, and the fact that it was outdated only added to the charm. So, now, the Moda Center is my personal fave. Our radio broadcast position seems to be in the middle of the crowd, and sometimes you have to stand to see the action because the fans in front of you are on their feet, and you have to keep the headphones on because otherwise you wouldn’t hear anything. It’s loud as *#@& and since the Trail Blazers usually are a playoff team, you can’t catch a break on the volume. It’s what you want in a home crowd, I think, and opposing players should relish the opportunity to silence it – like a certain team from New Orleans did, in Games 1 and 2 of a first-round playoff series in 2018.

Todd Graffagnini, Pelicans radio

I have three. Chase Center in San Francisco, the newest building in the league with every amenity a fan could want. We even have our own radio booth with a view that’s not too bad. Also a big fan of the United Center in Chicago. Huge building with six championship banners in the rafters. The undeniable house that Michael Jordan built. Also, one of the last couple arenas left in the NBA where the radio broadcast location is still courtside. Hard to beat Staples Center in Los Angeles as well. History factor with banners, and the BEST non-courtside broadcast view in the NBA.

Jen Hale, Pelicans TV

There are so many sexy, gorgeous arenas: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, the Chase Center in San Francisco and Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee to name a few. My favorite, however, is still Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. I’m a New Orleans girl, and I love places with stories and pasts. Bankers Life only opened in 1999. It’s not the oldest in the NBA, but when you walk in, you feel as if you are on the set of Hoosiers, watching Milan High School win their championship back in 1954. I love the smells and atmosphere, along with the story that comes with the Pacers being one of the original members of the ABA.

Joel Meyers, Pelicans TV

Madison Square Garden, because everyone in that building is so involved in the game and animated, but in a good way. Some buildings you go in, there is animosity – unfortunately – directed to visiting teams. In New York, there’s an appreciation for the gifted artists on the floor. Fans there appreciate talent, whether it’s the home team’s talent, or the opposition’s talent. I’ve done some memorable games there, such as when Kobe Bryant scored 61 points on Feb. 2, 2009. It was a Madison Square Garden record at the time (Carmelo Anthony surpassed it with 62 points in ’14). The electricity in that building for Kobe’s 61 was off the chart. It was so much fun to call that game.

Daniel Sallerson, Pelicans radio

Detroit, because of the media dining. There are so many food options and it’s just a great setup. Two seasons ago, we had a Sunday afternoon game there and I was almost late to a pregame interview with Alvin Gentry, because I was watching every single NFL game on the media room TVs. It’s also a very nice, new arena, where we still get to sit courtside, so from a broadcaster’s perspective, that helps make it one of the best. From a historic standpoint, Madison Square Garden is great. And maybe this is because I just watched “The Last Dance,” but sitting front row at the United Center is special. You have that Michael Jordan aura when you stare up at the championship banners. The crowds are always very good in Chicago and the pregame intros always get you excited for the game.

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