You’ll have no trouble finding the New Orleans Pelicans arena! The Smoothie King Center is close enough to share parking lots with Caesars Superdome. But that doesn’t guarantee a hassle-free game night experience. So, here’s all you need to know before heading to the next Pelicans home game.
New Orleans’ franchise has played its home games at the New Orleans Arena (now called Smoothie King Center) since joining the league as an expansion team in 2002. The Western Conference Southwest Division team earned their only Division title in 2008. The NOLA team was briefly known as the Hornets before changing the name to Pelicans after the 2012-13 NBA season.
If you are a new fan, here’s what you must know about your team before the next game at Smoothie King Arena:
Also see: NBA 2022-23 Full Schedule
Did the Pelicans use to be the Hornets?
The Charlotte Hornets were founded in 1988, but after a decade, the NBA team’s popularity declined despite their on-court success. Attendance numbers dropped to the lowest in the league, largely due to controversies involving the team owner George Shinn.
After failing to gain support in Charlotte, Shinn eventually moved the franchise to New Orleans, and they were New Orleans Hornets from 2002 to 2013. When they relocated to Oklahoma for a couple of seasons (2005-2007) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the team was briefly called New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
The New Orleans team officially changed its identity to the Pelicans after the 2012-13 NBA season. The name represents Louisiana’s state bird – the brown pelican.
What was the Pelicans’ best season?
New Orleans Pelicans are yet to win a Championship or Conference title, but they won their first and only Division title in 2008. With a franchise-best 56-26 record, 2007-2008 is the Pelicans’ best season.
In their two decades as an NBA franchise, New Orleans has made it to the playoff only eight times. They lost to the Warriors in the 2017-18 conference semi-finals and spent the next three seasons at the bottom of the table. New Orleans Pelicans’ record from last season is 36-46 (.439); they finished third in the Southwest Division and later lost 2-4 to the Phoenix Suns in the First Round.
Who is the New Orleans Pelicans coach?
The Pelicans appointed Willie Green as their head coach in 2021. He is the eighth head coach in the franchise’s history and replaced Stan Van Gundy.
Before starting his coaching career in 2016, Green played for the New Orleans Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, and Los Angeles Clippers. He was an assistant coach for Golden State Warriors (2016 – 2019) and later Phoenix Suns (2019 – 2021).
Find more about the Pelicans coaching staff and executives here.
Who are the leading New Orleans Pelicans players?
Zion Williamson leads the New Orleans Pelicans roaster with 23.5 pts per game, followed by Brandon Ingram (21.4 pts) and C J McCollum (17.8).
Check up-to-date details of team leaders and stats here.
See all-time records by New Orleans Pelicans Players below:
- Points – Anthony Davis (11059)
- Assists – Chris Paul (4228)
- Rebounds – Anthony Davis (4905)
- Blocks – Anthony Davis (1121)
- Steals – Chris Paul (1010)
New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center
The Pelicans have played home games at the Smoothie King Center (SKC) since their first season in 2002. The multi-purpose arena that opened in 1999 was then known as the New Orleans Arena. The arena sold its naming rights in 2014 and announced the 10-year agreement just before hosting its second NBA All-Star Game. Apart from 2014, the Pelicans arena hosted the 2008 and 2017 NBA All-Star Games.
Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (The State of Louisiana) owns the Pelicans arena, while ASM Global operates it and the adjacent Caesars Superdome – home of the New Orleans Saints. The 70-acre complex is in the city’s Central Business District, west of the Mississippi River.
New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) played their first home game on October 30, 2002, and defeated Utah Jazz 100-75. The first game at Smoothie King Center was New Orleans’ first regular season in over 17 years. After only a few seasons at their home arena, the Hornets relocated when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Between 2005 and 2007, Ford Center in Oklahoma City hosted New Orleans’ home games.
Also See: NBA Arenas Ranked: What Are the Best and Biggest Stadiums in the NBA?
What is the seating capacity at the Pelicans arena?
Smoothie King Center seats up to 16,867 fans for New Orleans Pelicans games, with premium seating in the Hub Club and luxury suites. The arena has 56 suites and 2800 club seats. The seating capacity for NBA playoff games and college basketball is 18,500.
See the Smoothie King Center seating map here.
When do the doors open for New Orleans Pelicans games?
Season ticket holders with club, suite and floor-level premium seats can enter the arena 1.5 hours before tipoff. Doors open for all ticket holders an hour before the game starts; however, it’s best to arrive earlier to make sure you find your seats in time.
Premium seat holders can use the VIP Entrance on the east side of Smoothie King Center, across from Lot 3.
How to reach Smoothie King Center
Smoothie King Center is at 1501 Dave Dixon Drive in New Orleans’ Central Business District. It’s a stone’s throw away from major transit hubs – Louis Armstrong International Airport is a 15-minutes drive, and the Union Passenger Terminal is 15 minutes on foot. In addition, hotels and other mass transit stops are within walking distance of the sporting complex, which also contains the Saints’ Superdome.
Use the map below to plan your route to the next New Orleans Pelicans game, or see detailed directions to the arena parking lots here.
- The New Orleans Heritage Streetcar stops at Poydras Street (10 minutes walk from SKC) – multiple lines connect different parts of the city.
- Amtrak and Greyhound services are available at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (0.5 miles walk from SKC)
Where can I park for New Orleans Pelicans games?
ASM Global operates seven garages and two surface lots for public parking near Smoothie King Center. There are around 7000 parking spaces in garages – #1, #1A, #2, #2A, #5, #6, Champions Garage – and lots #3 and #4. However, not all of these facilities may be open for every event held at the Pelicans arena.
Day-of-game parking is limited; it’s best to pre-book your space at the arena garages or lots for a guaranteed spot. You’ll find parking passes online on official ticketing websites. If gameday parking is available, Smoothie King Center arenas do not accept cash payments; use debit or credit cards.
Lot 3 (on Girod Street) has ADA parking spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll also find bike racks in this lot, along the wall closest to the Champions Garage. The racks are accessed via pedestrian gates on the corner of Le Rouge Street and Dave Dixon Drive. Le Rouge St. on the east side of the arena, near the Box Office, is also the designated drop-off/pick-up area.
How much does New Orleans Pelicans parking cost?
Single-game parking pass rates range from $10 – $20 when you book a spot online. You can also buy the 2022-23 Parking Full Season package for $350 or a Pelicans Half Season parking pass for $160-$180. 12 Game passes are also available this season; $90 (Weekend) and $110 (Superstar).
Parking near Smoothie King Center is available for as low as $12/day, and you can use the spot for up to 24 hours! Apart from the official parking lots, there are plenty of garages and parking lots near the Pelicans arena. While single-game parking at the on-site lots is limited, you can pre-book New Orleans Pelicans parking spots for special rates and get exclusive discounts online at lots outside the complex but within walking distance.
Also See: The comprehensive list of all NBA Teams, Arenas and Parking (2022-23)
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