SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of thousands of fans once filled the Delta Center, now Vivint Arena, to witness the glory seasons of the Utah Jazz franchise while sitting in the iconic green plastic chairs.
Although an ocean of navy blue cushioned seats have since replaced them as part of Vivint’s $125 million renovation last summer, roughly 40 miles away from the arena those green chairs are still being put to good use.
They were on display for five nights in July as thousands of fans filled Ogden Pioneer Stadium for the 85th annual Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo from the 19th to 24th.
Donating 7,500 seats to the Ogden facilities were just one example of part of repurposing the renovation.
On the north side of the stadium, the rickety old wooden benches have been removed and reconfigured with 4,000 of those green seats with a crew of more than 100 volunteers throughout a five-month process. The others will be installed at a later date.
“Getting the seats took a while, we also had them treated with the UV coating so they won’t fade in the sun,” said Craig Bielik, director of marketing for Ogden Pioneer Days. “They used to be inside seats, now they’re outside seats, and then one of the final things we had to do was go and match all the numbers up.
“Each seat had a number on it, but they weren’t always put in in order.”
For loyal Jazz fans, those green plastic chairs certainly had an emotional connection to the organization because they had been in place for more than 25 years.
Some seats were also given to season ticket holders as keepsakes while other furniture and kitchen equipment were redistributed on an as-needed basis to community groups and nonprofits.
“Everything we looked at, we either recycled, repurposed or donated for an alternative use,” said Frank Zang, Jazz senior vice president of communications.
While the green seats may have been the most recognizable example of the repurposed items in the renovation project, they certainly aren’t the only objects sprinkled throughout the community.
Former athletic equipment got passed to both the Salt Lake City Stars and Juan Diego High School; a portable wooden dance floor was donated to Megaplex Theatres; plastic sled chairs were also donated to various entities, including Megaplex Theatres; food service equipment went to the Utah Community Action nonprofit organization; old business office cube spaces were donated to a retailer while metal and stainless steel equipment was made safe and compliant before disposal.
By passing on those items, it also allows the legacy of those great moments and historical memories to take on another life elsewhere.
“The green chairs from the arena are iconic,” said Jim Olson, president of Vivint Arena. “Everybody associated those with the arena, so to know that they still have a place in this community and people can still utilize them, we were thrilled that especially Ogden would have a use for those.”
But with that, those old features have been replaced with state-of-the-art additions on all six levels of Vivint Arena. More than 2,000 workers spent countless hours in the multimillion-dollar renovation to showcase Vivint as Salt Lake City’s premier sports and entertainment venue.
Now, it’s all about creating a new experience for the new era of Jazz basketball. After last year’s second-round postseason run, Utah will host the defending back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors for its home opener on Friday, Oct. 19, at 8:30 p.m. in front of a national audience live on ESPN.
The Portland Trail Blazers will also be in town to play on Christmas Day for the first time since 1997. These primetime matchups seem to be an attempt for the league to showcase the exciting Jazz squad, and they have the picturesque arena to serve as a backdrop.
“The thing that’s been really fun about it is that we did the renovation and it’s really kind of corresponded with the excitement that we have around the team right now,” Olson said. “So when you combine the excitement of the team with the new arena, there is a lot of excitement.
“The new arena creates new opportunities for food and club options, and we now have padded and nicer seats,” he continued. “We just really feel that this arena was built for the future where people for a very long period of time will come and get to experience one of the best arenas in the NBA.”