SHARKS’ EYE VIEW: A rendering shows the new Penthouse Lounge that’s going into SAP Center, home of the NHL San Jose Sharks. (Courtesy team)
SAP Center creates theater box product
Fans of the NHL San Jose Sharks can avail themselves of a new SAP Center premium seating option when the team starts the 2023-24 season: a luxury lounge with mingling space and seats in the bowl.
The roughly 4,000-square-foot Penthouse Lounge is the newest $10-million-plus improvement at the 30-year-old building, whose “good bones” allow for regular upgrades that have maintained the arena’s vitality, as opposed to relying on more intermittent $100 million-range upgrade and maintenance projects, said Sharks President Jonathan Becher.
“Each summer we do one large mega project and a bunch of smaller ones where we invest in modernization and upkeep,” he said, adding that $5 to $10 million has gone into upgrades every year since the building opened in 1993 at a cost of $183 million. “The building doesn’t feel as old as it is chronologically because we are constantly working to refresh it and keep it up to date.”
The Penthouse Lounge was designed by Perkins & Will, which has been a partner of the Sharks since the building opened, Becher said.
To create the new space, seven suites tied to 138 seats will be removed on the penthouse suite level and three rows of seats from the bowl, for a total of 184 seats “to create a new space with a communal area and theater box-style seating that’s bigger and wider.”
SAP Center falls in line with many other big league arenas hat have consolidated traditional suites into theater boxes, groups of smaller premium seats supported by dining space. In San Jose, the yield management calculation is clear for an arena that hosts 150 events a year, including 40-plus Sharks home games.
“There is more revenue opportunity here,” Becher said.
The Penthouse Lounge, located on the suite level, combines the premium amenities of a suite with the more communal nature of a semi-private lounge. Members can buy four- to six-person theater boxes. Included is an all-inclusive food and beverage experience from a chef-inspired, rotating food menu that and an assortment of beer, wine and spirits. There’s a private bar and areas for communal dining.
Penthouse Lounge members get access to all Sharks games and select concerts, family shows and other events. Members also get a private entrance and free parking.
Construction is being handled by Devcon and is scheduled to begin May 4 and be completed by Sept. 1, in time for Sharks’ 2023-24 preseason games.
There is no membership fee and ticket prices range from $250-$300 per event.
Two summers ago, during the height of a long shutdown in one the most restrictive counties in a state that saw extensive COVID-19 strictures enacted, the Sharks relocated home games to Arizona and were able to “rebuild the entire foundation of the building,” Becher said.
“We took out the entire rink floor, the refrigeration systems, not because they were failing, but because they were 30 years old and needed to be replaced at some point,” he said. “That’s a four to eight month project if we did it when we were in full swing. That was an unbudgeted, well past $10 million improvement from our owner’s budget. No tax dollars went into it.”
Last summer, the arena got a new Daktronics center-hung videoboard that doubled the surface area of the old one and now has a host of high-tech projection capabilities.
“For all these projects, we don’t rely on any city money or public funding,” Becher said. “Not a single tax dollar has ever gone into our building.”