Who plays at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans?

The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana is home to the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team. The arena opened in 1999 and was originally known as the New Orleans Arena before being renamed the Smoothie King Center in 2014. Here is an overview of the teams and events that take place at the Smoothie King Center:

New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans are a professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They play their home games at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans joined the NBA in 2002 as the New Orleans Hornets before undergoing a name change in 2013. Some key facts about the Pelicans:

  • They compete in the NBA’s Western Conference Southwest Division
  • Current head coach is Willie Green (since 2021)
  • All-time regular season record: 549-780 (.413 win %)
  • Have qualified for playoffs 6 times, with deepest run to Western Conference Semifinals (2008, 2018)
  • Current roster includes stars like Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram
  • Primary colors are blue, gold and red
  • Mascot is Pierre the Pelican

Some of the most famous players to suit up for the franchise include Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, David West and Baron Davis. The Pelicans have struggled to find much success in the postseason but have an exciting young core led by Zion Williamson that could help the team become a contender in the coming years.

Pelicans 2021-22 Season

In the 2021-22 season, the Pelicans went 36-46 and finished 9th in the Western Conference. They qualified for the play-in tournament but lost both games to the Spurs and Clippers to miss out on the playoffs. Important stats for the Pelicans last season:

PPG Leaders RPG Leaders APG Leaders
Brandon Ingram (22.7) Jonas Valančiūnas (11.4) CJ McCollum (5.9)

Zion Williamson missed the entire season with a foot injury. CJ McCollum was acquired midseason in a trade and provided an offensive boost. First time head coach Willie Green implemented a promising defensive system. Going into 2022-23, the Pelicans will look to build on last season and contend for a playoff spot if Williamson can return healthy.

New Orleans Saints

While best known as the home of the Pelicans, the Smoothie King Center is also designed to accommodate football and regularly hosts New Orleans Saints home games. The Saints have played 3 regular season games at the arena since it opened:

  • 2005 vs. Giants – Saints won 27-10
  • 2006 vs. Falcons – Falcons won 14-3
  • 2021 vs. Packers – Saints won 38-3

The Saints relocated to the Smoothie King Center in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina caused damage to their home stadium, the Superdome. Besides football, the Smoothie King Center has hosted other events like Saints cheerleader tryouts and the Saints’ annual “Black and Gold Scrimmage” preseason practice.

NCAA Tournament

The Smoothie King Center has welcomed the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on six occasions. New Orleans has hosted NCAA Tournament games in:

  • 2002
  • 2004
  • 2008
  • 2012
  • 2014
  • 2023 (upcoming)

In 2012, the Smoothie King Center hosted the NCAA Final Four and Championship Game, won by the Kentucky Wildcats. The arena holds special memories for UK fans as the site of their 8th national title. In 2014, the arena hosted second and third round March Madness games.

For the upcoming 2023 NCAA Tournament, the Smoothie King Center will host first and second round games on March 17 and 19. This will mark the first time the arena has hosted March Madness games since the Pelicans became the primary tenants.


Live music is a big part of the entertainment at the Smoothie King Center. As a top indoor venue in New Orleans, the arena attracts major concert tours and artists in every genre. Some notable concerts held at the Smoothie King Center include:

  • U2 – multiple shows on 2001 Elevation Tour and 2015 Innocence + Experience Tour
  • Eagles – Long Road Out of Eden Tour (2008)
  • Bruce Springsteen – multiple shows between 2000-2016
  • Taylor Swift – Fearless Tour (2010) and Reputation Stadium Tour (2018)
  • Celine Dion – Taking Chances World Tour (2009)
  • Drake -multiple shows between 2010-2018
  • Bon Jovi – This House Is Not For Sale Tour (2017)
  • Janet Jackson – Janet World Tour (2008)
  • Rihanna – Anti World Tour (2016)

Upcoming concerts scheduled for the Smoothie King Center include Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, and John Mayer. The venue typically hosts around 40 major concerts per year, providing the sounds of music icons several nights a week during peak touring seasons.

Family Shows & Other Events

Beyond sports and concerts, the Smoothie King Center books a wide variety of events. These include:

  • Disney on Ice – Popular recurring show featuring Disney characters skating and performing lively routines.
  • Marvel Universe Live – Action-packed show with Marvel superheroes saving the day against evil villains.
  • Sesame Street Live – Fun musical performance with Sesame Street muppets singing, dancing, and teaching lessons.
  • Cirque du Soleil – Acrobatic fantastical shows like Varekai, Dralion, and Luzia have stopped in New Orleans.
  • Harlem Globetrotters – The legendary basketball entertainers bring their skills and comedy to the Smoothie King Center periodically.
  • graduation ceremonies – The University of New Orleans holds their graduation at the arena.
  • New Orleans Home + Garden Show – This home show brings remodeling ideas and local vendors to the Center.

For kids and families, the Smoothie King Center offers several live entertainment options each year from top touring brands in additions to Pelicans games. There’s always an exciting event happening inside the walls of this premier New Orleans venue.

Arena Information

Here are some key facts about the Smoothie King Center as a venue:

  • Opened in 1999
  • Managed by ASM Global
  • Seats approximately 16,867 for basketball
  • Over 18,000 capacity for concerts
  • Home to the New Orleans Pelicans since 2002
  • Hosts over 150 ticketed events per year
  • Has 36 luxury suites and 1,300 club seats
  • Concession offerings include Southern favorites like jambalaya and gumbo

The state-of-the-art design allows for quick changeovers between various sports, concerts, and other productions. With its distinctive external glow, the Smoothie King Center lights up downtown New Orleans as a hub for entertainment.

Getting to the Smoothie King Center

The Smoothie King Center enjoys a convenient location right in downtown New Orleans. For Pelicans fans and concertgoers, there are several options to get to events:

  • Parking – The Smoothie King Center has over 7,000 parking spots in surrounding garages and lots within close walking distance. Pre-purchasing parking in advance is recommended.
  • Public transportation – The arena is accessible via streetcars, buses, and the Canal Street trolley. The City Park/Pepsi stop drops off right at the entrance.
  • Ridesharing – Dropoffs by Uber/Lyft are located on Dave Dixon Drive near the main plaza entrance.
  • Hotels – Many nearby hotels like the Hyatt Regency New Orleans offer event packages with shuttles to the Center.

The city provides efficient transportation options for heading downtown to an event. Pelicans fans can ride in style to catch exciting pro basketball action at the Smoothie King Center.

Nearby Attractions

The Smoothie King Center enjoys a prime spot amid the many attractions of downtown New Orleans. Here are some fun things to do in the area around the arena:

  • French Quarter – This historic neighborhood with Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, and lively music clubs is just over a mile away.
  • Harrah’s Casino – Try your luck at the slots and table games at this casino connected to the Center.
  • National WWII Museum – Learn about America’s role in the Second World War at this highly rated museum about 15 minutes away on foot.
  • Canal Street – Stroll down this bustling boulevard with restaurants, shops, hotels, and streetcars.
  • Riverwalk Shopping Outlets – Shop for deals at over 75 outlet stores along the Mississippi River just behind the arena.

With the French Quarter, museums, dining, and more just a streetcar ride away, it’s easy to enjoy the best of New Orleans around an event at the Smoothie King Center.

Dining Nearby

Finding delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine is no problem in the area by the Smoothie King Center. Here are some tasty dining options near the arena:

Restaurant Cuisine Distance
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant Louisiana soul food 0.5 miles
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant Seafood 0.4 miles
Cochon Restaurant Cajun 1 mile
Peche Seafood Grill Seafood 1 mile
Cafe Du Monde Coffee & beignets 1.4 miles

These standout restaurants offer convenient places to savor New Orleans specialties before an event at the Smoothie King Center or a fun meal after. With so many dining choices nearby, visitors can experience the best NOLA flavors.


The Smoothie King Center is one of New Orleans’ premier indoor event venues, serving as the exciting home court of the NBA’s Pelicans franchise. With its downtown location, the Center conveniently brings major concerts, family shows, and other entertainment to locals and tourists alike. The passionate fans filling the stands for Pelicans games give the arena an electric atmosphere all season.

Beyond basketball, the versatility of the Smoothie King Center allows it to accommodate NCAA March Madness, football, and everything from Disney on Ice to heavy metal concerts. New Orleans is a city that loves a good show, and the Smoothie King Center supplies an endless calendar of sports and entertainment. Whether you’re bringing the kids to Sesame Street Live or dancing the night away at a Bruno Mars concert, the good times roll at this vibrant arena in the “Big Easy.”

Leave a Comment