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Official Review by Tyler Huskinson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
EnergySolutions Arena, commonly known to locals as, “The House that Larry (Miller) Built”, hosts many functions including sporting events, concerts and other entertainment. It primarily hosts the NBA’s Utah Jazz but during the summer months, the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football Leauge have called the arena home on and off again for the past seven seasons.
The arena seats 19,911 and holds 16,500 when configured for Arena Football. A good portion of the upper bowl at both end zones is blocked off, but despite the blocked off seating and subsequent lower attendance, the fans create a loud, boisterous atmosphere.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
EnergySolutions Arena has the regular fare for most stadiums as far the concession booths, called Fast Break, are concerned. A regular hot dog is $3.50, a jumbo hot dog is $4.50 and nachos are $5.00. Pretzel bites ($4.75) and a Veggie Tray is unique compared to other arenas, but the heavy-hitter is the Three Pointer combo which features a hot dog, chips and soda for $7.50. The combo offers a savings of nearly $2.00.
No outside food or drink of any type is allowed within the arena. The lines are never long at any of the concession stands or food carts.
The prices are reasonable for an NBA arena, but the concessions aren't the only culinary option. If Mexican food is what you are looking for, Café Ole Express may satisfy your cravings. The cart on the lower bowl concourse offers taco salads, nachos and tacos. Each entrée can be customized with a choice of three meats: shredded chicken, shredded sweet pork and seasoned ground beef. A taco salad is the most expensive choice at $8.75 while the Walking Tacos offer the least expensive option at $6.25. A drink may be added for $3.75.
For those looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, there are usually a couple of options. However during Blaze games, the options at EnergySolutions Arena are heavily downgraded. During Jazz games one can choose Russell's Ice Cream, Farr's Frozen Yogurt or Dippin Dots, but during Blaze games the only option is Dippin Dots. Dippin Dots', freeze dried ice cream, options come in small ($4.00), medium ($6.00) and large ($8.00) with choices of about five flavors.
For those adults looking for a beer it will cost $7.75 for a 20 oz. craft or import beer and $8.00 for a 24 oz. draft beer. There is however only one cart open for beer sales and it is located in the lower concourse.
For obvious reasons, smaller attendance, food and other amenities available to fans is downsized considerably. Café Ole, The Coors Light Legends Club, The Bud Light Lounge, The Squatters Wasatch Tavern and the Eureka Casino Lounge are all closed during Blaze games. This may be due to several factors, but it does dampen the concourse atmosphere.
During Blaze games the concourse is wide open, especially the upper concourse where many concession booths and other food carts are not staffed.
The seats in the arena are comfortable by stadium chair standards. There are cup holders and plenty of leg room. The chairs are all hard with the exception of the first four rows which are soft folding style chairs.
Fans are right on top of the artificial surface during games and have the option of viewing the field up close during pregame. The official logo can be best visualized by sitting in Sections 15-21. The best place to sit in my opinion is along the sideline as close to the field as possible. It offers the best view of the entire field, especially since there are four foot walls along the sidelines. The higher you sit, the less you are able to see of the close corners of the end zone because of the way the corner seats are situated.
The Blaze enter the arena through the tunnel between Section 3-4 and the visitors enter through the tunnel situated between Section 10-11.
The suites are situated between the lower and upper bowl with a special entrance that is guarded by the suite attendant. The amenities of watching from the suites are an experience to be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.
The Jumbotron sorely needs to be renovated and the Larry Miller Group recently announced it will be upgraded by the end of the summer. Considering the scoreboard is intended for basketball use, it converted very well for football use. Replays are shown often and fans in the upper bowl can watch the action on the 10 foot screen.
The Blaze Mascot, fittingly named Torch, made a few appearances during the game and seemed to interact well with fans from what I could tell.
The PA Announcer did his best to encourage fans to be loud and make some noise while local celebrity and news anchor Big Buddha plays the role of MC and promotions.
EnergySolutions Arena is located in the heart of downtown with an abundance of restaurants, hotels, museums, among other activities. The EnergySolutions Arena and many other places of interest including two big shopping malls are located within the UTA Fare Free Zone.
Located just west of the arena is the open air mall called the Gateway. There are several restaurant choices at the Gateway including Flemmings Steakhouse, California Pizza Kitchen and Costa Vida. There are choices for everyone's budget and other unique places to shop as well.
A brand new, state of the art mall is located two Trax stops away from EnergySolutions Arena. City Creek boasts high end shopping with several dining options including the The Cheesecake Factory and the Blue Lemon.
There are several other places to eat. One of the highest rated restaurants in all of Salt Lake is located within a 10 minute walk of the arena. Brugges Waffles and Frites is a little hole in the wall restaurant that serves authentic Belgian food including fries and Belgian waffles.
Like the downtown area of any major city, EnergySolutions Arena isn't necessarily located in the safest neighborhood in Salt Lake, but I have never felt threatened or in danger when walking in the area.
Despite the fact that Arena Football League rules are different from that of the NFL and NCAA football, the fans seem pretty knowledgeable of what was going on.
Because the history of the Utah Blaze is young and somewhat shaky, the fans don't really have any traditions and there weren't any visiting fans that I could see to welcome. The visiting team was the Iowa Barnstormers and maybe that played a part in that fact.
EnergySolutions Arena is very accessible especially since the completion of the Airport Trax Line which stops right next to the arena. There are several parking options close to the arena and cost $5.00 at each location. The northeast kitty corner parking lot is $5.00, but I wouldn't recommend parking. There are ample free parking spaces along the street within walking distance and there are several hotels that fall within the Fare Free Zone.
Both the lower bowl and upper bowl concourses are very easy to navigate and the playing field is somewhat viewable through the concourse entries.
The restrooms are very clean with limited odors and the lines are almost non-existent.
The security gate experience is smooth and the workers are very helpful.
For how close you need to sit to really enjoy the atmosphere of the game, I don't think it would be worth it to pay that much for tickets. It was a fun atmosphere because the Blaze won that night, but I would like to see what happens on a night where the Blaze lose.
The Jazz team store was closed during the Blaze game, but I give an extra point because there is a small area located in the lower bowl concourse where fans could purchase Blaze gear.
I give one more extra point for the fan relations booth and the area where children could get their hair spray painted in the Blaze team colors.
The certain game I attended was loud and exciting and the atmosphere was fun, I still wonder if that changes when the team doesn't perform as well. The EnergySolutions Arena is a great venue to see any type of performance, but I wouldn't recommend seeing a Blaze game there quite yet. There are some upgrades to be made before buying a ticket would be worth it.
Member Review by dmortimer
At first glance, the rawness of arena football doesn't seem like a good fit in a place like ultra-conservative Utah. Football-hungry Utahns bucked that trend when the Utah Blaze debuted in 2006. The team led the Arena Football League in home attendance that season with an average of 15,498 fans packing EnergySolutions Arena. The death and re-birth of the AFL, together with moving the Blaze to nearby Maverik Center and back again, appear to have altered - but not halted - the franchise's momentum.
The venue is known best as the home of the Utah Jazz, but fans needing their summer fix of football can find it at EnergySolutions Arena as well.
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