Inside the Hidden World of VIP Perks at America’s Marquee Sports Arenas

The best seats at the country’s top arenas have more in common with perk-laden private members’ clubs than with sporting events. Here’s how.

Fans sitting courtside at Kaseya Center during a game between the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons in Miami, FL on March 5, 2024.Sinna Nasse

ack Nicholson and Denzel Washington at the Lakers. Jay-Z and Beyoncé rooting for the Nets. Bad Bunny, well, everywhere. Seating celebrities courtside is downright de rigueur in the modern NBA, but you don’t have to be an A-lister to relish the royal treatment at today’s games. America’s premier arenas offer high-rolling sports fans stylishly indulgent experiences that go beyond covetable tickets to include hidden enclaves, gourmet cuisine, collector-worthy wine lists, and, in at least one case, all the candy you can eat.


Who needs onion rings? The Crown Club at Barclays Center serves Nicoise salad and steak frites.SINNA NASSERI

While the Brooklyn Nets didn’t exactly set the league ablaze this season, the VIP program at the team’s home court, the Barclays Center, rivals any in the Association. Members of the Courtside Crown Club enter through a private tunnel, from which they can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the players’ practice court below. Nestled at court level is the club itself, accessible only to 218 season-ticket holders. Conceived by Major Food Group—the culinary operation behind New York’s hottest reservation, Carbone, and the members-only ZZ’s Club—the restaurant blends Japanese design elements, moody lighting, and a plethora of large-screen TVs. Its rotating menu offers Carbone signatures (yes, even the viral Spicy Rigatoni Vodka) while an 800-bottle wine list caters to proper oenophiles: Here, you can pregame over a 2009 La Romanée-Conti, a Ridge from 1994, or even a ’45 Haut-Brion. But the most decadent offering may be the sweets room, a whimsical candy-apple-red wonderland with a buffet of nostalgic treats: Think Milk Duds, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, Charleston Chews, and more. There’s even gelato on tap.

The Crown Club’s stylish “sweets room” is a buffet of nostalgic grab-and-go treats.SINNA NASSERI

Of course, the seats are no slouches, either. A brief walk from the Crown Club leads you to front-row folding leather chairs on the wood. From here, you’ll know what the Carters know—that everything about the game is bigger and grander at courtside.

Twelve hundred miles south, in Miami, the Heat’s Kaseya Center delivers a VIP experience with decidedly South Beach flair. Heat Elite Courtside members watch the game from prime position on the hardwood, alongside superfans Pitbull and Rick Ross. For $150,000 annually (the going rate according to multiple sources), you also get access to two private lounges, one on either side of the arena, just a short walk from your seats.

Kaseya Center’s private South Lounge added Black Angus Ribeye to the menu for a game in early March.SINNA NASSERI

The lounges double as upscale eateries, serving bistro-style menus with Latin American twists—burgers and wild Atlantic salmon are complemented by grilled churrasco steak and Cuban sandwiches. Throughout the season, a rotating cast of notable chefs, including Michelin-starred David Shim and James Beard Award winner Michelle Bernstein, add their own culinary magic to the mix.

Meanwhile, the Courtside Club may be the most hopping space in the venue. Built in a converted locker room beneath the bleachers, the club feels like a nightlife hot spot, complete with a DJ spinning in a booth overlooking the bar. Under the glow of neon lights—and a large sign in homage to the Notorious B.I.G. that reads “It was all a dream”—members sip cocktails and nosh on Peruvian Japanese–style small bites (made by chefs from the local eatery B-Side by Itamae) in sleek black-leather booths. Think of it as the VIP version of the team’s famed Heat Culture.

A decommissioned locker room at Kaseya Center is host to the Heat’s Courtside Club, a thumping bar that rivals some South Beach nightlife hot spots.SINNA NASSERI

Not to be upstaged by their East Coast rivals, San Francisco’s Chase Center and L.A.’s Arena embrace the notion that games are more luxurious when enjoyed with your crew. The California arenas’ most opulent experiences take place in lounges and suites that feel more like modern condos—and come with the best seats in the house.

Home to Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, Chase Center pairs its basketball with Napa Valley sophistication. Nods to wine country abound throughout the arena. The 32 Courtside Lounges, the Center’s most exclusive VIP offering, are reserved on long-term leases for what its PR team calls “an annual seven-figure commitment.” The suites are configured around two wine vaults—one on each side of the arena—that source bottles from local producers, including Frog’s Leap and Silver Oak.

Chase Center’s Courtside Lounges have massive screens that overlook the court from three rows up.CHASE CENTER

Inside, a vaulted ceiling inspired by wine barrels arcs over a sand-colored room furnished with marble-topped tables and comfy chairs and sofas. You and up to 11 friends can savor farm-to-table cuisine, and an additional four guests can join you to watch the action via a massive screen that frames the game like a window from three rows up. And if you’re ready to uncork that 2005 Petrus you’ve been saving for a special occasion, the arena has you covered: Each lounge comes equipped with its own refrigerated wine storage.

A young Warriors fan gets a sundae delivered on a silver platter at the Chase Center in San Francisco, CA during a game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets on Feb 25, 2024.SINNA NASSERI

L.A. is all about the grand entrance, and Arena is no exception. Members of its Tunnel Suites program are treated to a VIP experience from the moment they arrive—at the same underground parking lot the athletes themselves use. (The arena is home to the Lakers, the Clippers, the WNBA’s Sparks, and the NHL’s Kings.) For a multiyear lease in the low seven figures annually, a valet will whisk away your car as you undertake your own tunnel walk (designer kicks optional), trodding the same path as LeBron James, James Harden, and Anže Kopitar. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at a private entrance with a glass of wine or a cocktail of your choice. Then it’s off to one of four tunnel suites handsomely appointed with leather sofas, velvet bar seats, and the requisite large-screen TVs.

At Arena, Tunnel Suite members nosh on gourmet cuisine before a Kings game in March.SINNA NASSERI

A full-time attendant will help you and 13 friends navigate the spread of gourmet cuisine and the fully stocked bar. At tip-off, you’ll be escorted to the roomier, prime seats in rows 3 to 9, a short way from the court (or ice). Membership also grants tickets to the Grammy Awards and events taking place during the 2028 Summer Olympics. With a setup this lavish, even Jack might feel a twinge of envy.

Via Robb Report

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