SALT LAKE CITY — The dress rehearsals are over. Now let the real show begin.
After a few test runs and concerts, Vivint Arena opens its doors for the first time for the main reason why the Miller family spent $125 million to renovate the building — for the Utah Jazz.
Fans arriving to the arena for the first time will notice some drastic changes, beginning with the 14-foot-high illuminated J-note statue on the northeastern corner of the plaza. The main entry has also been dramatically altered as a spacious 12,000-square-foot atrium greets spectators who can visit the relocated box office and snazzy-looking Team Store before entering the main concourse or continuing forward to get a view of the court from the new porch area.
The updated arena has a vastly different and sleek feel, with new cushioned dark blue seats and dazzling displays to complement the previously installed massive video scoreboard.
Fans will have plenty of concessions options, too. The renovated building features 30-plus vendors, including four larger restaurants — featuring Mexican fare, barbecue, pizza and hamburgers — in the corners of the main concourse.
Guests fortunate enough to have premium seating will have access to the vast amount of well-stocked clubs and suites scattered throughout the arena, including near the floor level with new access points. The building now includes one enormous club that can hold 1,700 spectators.
The building isn't the only new feature. This 2017-18 season-opener against the Denver Nuggets will give fans their first look at a Utah team that no longer includes All-Star forward Gordon Hayward but does have the intriguing combination of newcomers Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, Tony Bradley and Royce O'Neale.
A Jazz player and member of the Miller family will give traditional speeches before the game tips off at 7:10 p.m. Fans at the arena will receive schedule magnets.
Jazz starters will be Ricky Rubio, PG; Rodney Hood, SG; Joe Ingles, SF; Derrick Favors, PF; Rudy Gobert, C.
Injury: Backup point guards Dante Exum (left shoulder) and Raul Neto (right hamstring). That means two-way signee Nate Wolters will begin the season with the NBA club.
Nuggets starters will be Jamal Murray, PG; Gary Harris, SG; Wilson Chandler, SF; Paul Millsap, PF; Nikola Jokic, C.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder:
"I think the thing that we’ve built over the last three years is a defensive identity. We want to continue to see that from this group every time we play. The other thing that we’ve emphasized and I think we’ve lived it is we’ve been an unselfish group.
"Those two things I think are constant. Offensively, we’ve lost not just scoring but we’ve lost a lot of shots. What we’re going to see is who picks up the slack. Who’s taking those shots? We all have an idea whether it’s Rodney (Hood), Donovan (Mitchell)’s been attacking, Rudy (Gobert)’s had more attempts, that will be something that we'll continue to see."