Have you had the opportunity to visit an NBA arena in another city? Or, maybe you have wondered how some of the others compare to the Moda Center. Or, even how some of the things other teams do in contrast to the stadium operations of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Over the past decade, I have given myself the assignment of traveling to other cities and attending games, getting the feel of things around the arena and what they’re like while working with other media outlets.
How the Portland Trail Blazers Moda Center compares to other NBA venues
One year, I met up with the Blazers in New Orleans, checked out what is now known as Smoothie King Center, and what takes place while they’re on the road. From what I remember from memory and notes, I wasn’t too impressed with Smoothie King, as it felt old and in need of an update. It’s also in my opinion that the arena was overshadowed by the looming next-door neighbor, The Superdome.
Later, it was the Palace of Auburn Hills. I felt like I was part of their history, with all of their retired jerseys (eleven in total) and their three championship banners, including the one from 1990, which they won versus Portland. The Palace itself was about a half-hour drive from downtown Detroit. The palace has since been demolished and replaced by Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit, which opened in 2017.
Most recently, in December, I was in the Los Angeles area and attended a Clippers game to check out what is now known as the Crypto.com Arena, previously Staples Center. I will say to begin, it was impressive.
The Clippers’ current home, which also is where the Lakers reside, opened in 1999. We arrived before the doors opened. The check-in process (vaccination cards, ticket scan, etc.) went a lot faster than the Moda Center’s does. However, the process of letting fans inside the arena was much slower.
While exploring, I found an indoor sports bar/restaurant, similar to Dr. Jack’s outside of the Moda Center. Taking the first set of escalators to the 300 level was a small landing area, which you could see outside of the arena, followed by bigger escalators to the top. The Clippers merchandise options at their main store are very limited to shirts and hats, with a few available trinkets and to my disappointment, no pennants. Even though they share the same home, there was no Lakers gear to be found. There was hardly any sign of them, besides a few pictures here and there — an intentional cover-up during Clippers home games.
The Clippers care about their fans more so. They have a schedule of promotional game handouts, including a holiday beanie for the first 10,000 fans, which took place the night I attended. The Blazers once handed out similar items, but no longer do so. Santa Claus was sitting in a chair and fans could take pictures with him.
The Mascot, “Chuck the Condor”, which is a bird with a pink head, pink face, and blue nose, waved a Clippers flag similar to what Blaze the Trail Cat does during the lineup announcement, as well as tossed shirts with the dancers before the game.
The only disappointments to the game and arena were the fans don’t show their enthusiasm/excitement throughout the game as the Portland fans do. The lineup light show/introductions do not compare to Portland’s, and the music is way too loud. Plus, the lady who appeared to be their version of the Blazers’ Todd Bosma (Director of Game Operations) was obnoxiously annoying.
The best part of Crypto.com Arena was, “LA Live”, which is equivalent to Portland’s Rose Quarter. It had an ESPN Studios on its grounds, many restaurants/lounges, other entertainment venues, and the most impressive, an outdoor ice rink. And because it was the Christmas season, there was a large tree lit with skaters gliding around it. Perhaps it’s time for The Rose Quarter to redevelop and add more attractions. The Clippers will be moving to their own place, “The Intuit Dome” opening in 2024. Perhaps visiting it is another article for another time.