The Delta Center opened just as the Jazz were reaching their peak as one of the top teams in the NBA. For the first ten years or so of its history the area was home to countless playoff games as the combination of John Stockton and Karl Malone filled the stat sheet night after night of their Hall of Fame careers. That all this could be achieved in a small market, and in a stadium which cost just $93 million, is nothing short of unbelievable.
The Jazz were actually not the sole tenant in the early years of the Delta Center. Initially, the NBA side shared the facility with the minor hockey league Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the IHL. The Golden Eagles actually played the first game in the two teams’ new home, a 4-2 loss to the Peoria Rivermen in October of 1991. As with many minor league sports franchises however the Golden Eagles were a money pit, losing their investors almost a million dollars annually before they were sold to interests in Detroit in 1994.
EnergySolutions Arena was the host to one of the most memorable and dramatic moments in sports history back in 1998. This is where Michael Jordan hit the game winning shot in Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals to give Chicago their sixth NBA Title. The shot at the end of the game, which gave Jordan 45 points on the night, defined his legacy and Jordan hanging in the air at the top of the key to hit the shot became one of the most ubiquitous dorm room posters in college history. The basket, hoop, ball and stanchion which Jordan hit that game winner into recently sold at auction for over $41,000.
EnergySolutions arena is known throughout the NBA as being one of the toughest places to play in the country. There is an intimidation and noise factor at the arena which is beyond compare in the NBA, with a floor level decibel meter reaching a high point of 110 during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. The arena has also been proactive in improving the amenities from its 25 year old construction, putting in over 500 TV screens, a kids play area and a new scoreboard/ribbon display technology combination.
Another cool feature of EnergySolutions Arena is the tribute statues to Stockton and Malone outside the stadium. As mentioned these are two are two of the greatest players in the history of the NBA and many fans take photos with the statues of these legends before Jazz home games. When you add in the fact that this arena was home to the short track speed skating and figure skating events at the 2002 Winter Olympics, then you have a venue which is full of history and interesting stories despite not being that old.