Though the college kids usually get most of the basketball attention in March, there’s quite the tussle happening in the NBA this month, too. The only difference is that the competition in the professional ranks has very little to do with slams and everything to do with swankiness. From Jay Z-inspired elegance in New York City to über-chic digs in South Florida, venues across the country aren’t passing on the chance to shower hoops fans with costly extras. Read on for a trio of venues that score major points when it comes to high-end hospitality near the hardwood.
When you’re the two-time-defending world champs (and you just happen to have the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, sporting your jersey), selling tickets isn’t a major concern. In fact, the only real issue the Heat front office is probably having these days is keeping fans entertained during contests where Miami is blowing out opponents. The Hyde Suite, a ritzy enclave of AAA that just opened in January, may be the detour that discerning guests have craved. With plush leather seating, a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a private server and a personal mixologist, there’s plenty to gush over in this hotspot besides the scoreboard. But even in the off chance you and your crew come to the game to, well, watch the game, 18 stadium-style snakeskin seats with the Hyde logo stitched in gold are also a part of the posh settings. Suite patrons also gain entry into Hyde Lounge, a spot to chill and sip cocktails during the game and gawk at the Miami’s trendy set on the dance floor long after the action ends. (If you’re on the West Coast, a Hyde Lounge can also be found at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.) Available via single-ticket purchase ($250) or a complete buyout ($12,500-$30,000, depending on the date), the Hyde Suite gives folks who couldn’t beat King James in their wildest dreams a real chance to feel like a baller.
Can’t-Miss Game: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks, April 6
The Vault, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
The once-floundering Brooklyn Nets have turned over a new leaf in 2014, winning 24 of 34 contests since January 1. While things may have changed for the better in the team standings, though, one area of the franchise has remained constant through it all — the high-end experience to be had at The Vault. Comprised of 11 suites and a lounge on the hush-hush events level, Barclays Center’s elite playground is the kind of ultra-cool place you’d imagine corporate hot shots and A-list celebrities such as Beyoncé hanging out in during a game — and that makes sense seeing as how Bey’s husband/rap impresario/former Nets investor Jay-Z is the man who actually conceptualized the place. To fully cast the air of exclusivity, the digs are decked out in super-comfortable seating, flat-screen monitors, private concierges and the snazzy Armand de Brignac champagne bar that hypnotizes with a wall of golden bottles regally stacked next to each other. The $675,000 annual price tag for one suite allows you to get your hands on all these opulent extras as well as gain access for eight people to every event on Barclays Center’s calendar. Of course, after the suite’s initial sticker shock wears off, you have to ask yourself if you can ever truly put a price tag on living in Hova’s world for a few hours.
Can’t-Miss Game: Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets, April 1
Mezzanine Club, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
Arguably the league’s most exciting young team, the Golden State Warriors are expected to dazzle deep into the NBA Playoffs this season. To direct some of the attention away from the court and onto Oracle Arena’s other amenities, officials had to do something game changing, so they came up with the Mezzanine Club’s super sleek Theater Boxes, a tony address that’s part hoops heaven and part luxurious lounge. With hardwood at every turn, leather seating, in-suite iPads and all the beer and wine you can handle, the place feels like a members-only club you’d only hear about from a globe-trotting friend of a friend. The lavish complimentary buffet of finger foods, pastas and meat will hark imagery of a royal feast. On top of all of that, Theater Box guests ($110,000 per season for four seats to every arena event) also gain access to the Courtside and Sideline Clubs, two other Oracle Arena sections with good eats and great views of the action. Combine all of those exquisite extras with the nightly show put on by Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala and you start to see why Golden State fans are on cloud nine these days.
Can’t-Miss Game: Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs, March 22
Photos Courtesy of Bruce Damote, American Airlines Arena and Golden State Warriors