Sports 101

The NBA opens a full 82-game season Tuesday after last year's lockout-shortened version. There'll be rule changes as well as new and familiar faces. But the big story is the NBA building boom in the '90s. The days of rickety old buildings like Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium are a thing of the past.

Monstrous arenas with luxury boxes, high-priced club seats, and - in the case of the new Staples Center in Los Angeles - even a fireplace are part of the NBA experience.

"Now, it's all entertainment," says Chicago Bulls center Will Perdue. "The marketing department is selling more than a game."

Q: Which teams are getting new facilities this season?

A: The Atlanta Hawks (Philips Arena); the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers (Staples Center for both); the Indiana Pacers (Conseco Fieldhouse); and the Denver Nuggets (The Pepsi Center).

At midseason, the Miami Heat will shift from Miami Arena (just over a decade old) to the American Airlines Arena. In 2001, the Dallas Mavericks are scheduled to move into a new (similarly named) American Airlines Center.

Q: How many teams play in arenas built in the 1990s?

A: Twenty of the 29 NBA teams. Five other teams play in facilities that were completed in the last two years of the 1980s.

Q: Why do so many basketball teams need new arenas?

A: "You cannot compete economically without a new building," says Stan Kasten, president of the Atlanta Hawks. Suites and club boxes generate more money and advertising revenue increases. Plus, there are larger concession stands with a greater variety of food and beverages.

Q: Have any new arenas retained their old character?

A: The new arena in Indianapolis resembles an old-fashioned fieldhouse, but it provides all the modern amenities. The luxury-box suites are all on one side of the building, giving the arena the appearance of an opera house.


(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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