SPORTS

Utah Jazz Return To Vivint Arena For First Time Since March

Dec 12, 2020, 9:46 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 12:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz took on the Phoenix Suns in a preseason game, the team’s first game at Vivint Smart Home Arena since the start of the pandemic, and were victorious.

“It’s truly great to be back in Vivint Arena,” said Frank Zang, spokesperson for the Utah Jazz. “We look forward to the season getting started again.”

Saturday’s home game was not quite the experience you might remember, but it was just what you would expect during the pandemic.

“We are very mindful of health and safety protocols as we bring people back,” Zang said. “It’s still basketball and that’s the best part of it.”

The last time the team played at home was March 11. A memorable moment played out on the court that day against the Oklahoma City Thunder, when the game was called off minutes before tip-off and fans were asked to leave because Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19.

The remainder of the NBA season was played months later in Orlando.

“It’s been a quick turnaround from the end of last season, which really wasn’t until September, until bringing everybody back here in November,” said Zang.

Ahead of Saturday’s game, players warmed up on the court, while all around them the arena was set up differently — stands were pushed back, front row seats were covered and plexi glass separated other seats from the court.

“It’s great to hear the dribble of the basketball on the court again,” Zang said.

Officials said no tickets will be sold for the team’s two preseason games at home.

At Saturday’s game, only Jazz employees and family members were welcome. They were seated in small groups spread out across the stands.

On December 26, the Utah Jazz will welcome 1,500 fans to Vivint Arena for their first regular season home game. That is less than 10% of the arena’s 18,306 seats.

“Even though we’re so limited in terms of the number of people that will be able to come and watch games in person, we’re super happy to be back playing basketball again,” Zang said. “Jazz basketball is a unifier, it’s something everybody likes to get behind.”

The tickets, the concessions, the seating arrangement will all look a bit different this season, but the game itself is just how fans remember it.

“If this provides a small measure of happiness, that’s mission accomplished,” said Zang. “It’s a small step. It’s a preseason game, but the lights are on in the arena again, the players are back on the court and we are hopeful for what the future may bring.”

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Utah Jazz Return To Vivint Arena For First Time Since March