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SALT LAKE CITY — A high school student from southern Idaho is thankful that the Utah Jazz are finally playing. His senior project has turned into a small business, which his neighboring Utah Jazz fans are taking advantage of.
At 2 p.m. on the days the Jazz play at home, fans board a big luxury motor coach in Idaho Falls. For $69 a game, or $79 for the big games with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Miami Heat, fans get a ticket and a round-trip ride to EnergySolutions Arena.
"It's really cool, actually," said Landon Belnap, a senior student at Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls. "When I pulled up today and saw the line waiting to get on the bus, it was a great feeling. It was exciting to see it go from this idea as a senior project to real-life happening."
The Idaho Jazz Bus idea was a duel effort by Belnap and his mentor, businessman Owen Hamilton, who's wanted to start up a business like this for several years. When the two met, the idea was a slam dunk.
"(I said,) ‘I've had this idea for a few years. Let's partner and do something together, and do something big for your senior project — (something) that's substantial instead of something that's easy and will just get you by,'" Hamilton explained.
The two spent the past summer finding sponsors, advertisers and the big bus, which came complete with Wi-Fi and a restroom. Then they bought 50 season tickets.
"The people who ride on the bus actually get the benefit of a season ticket holder," Hamilton said. "They can show their ticket at concession stands and get discounts that the season holders get."
The Idaho Jazz Bus has made only a handful of trips so far, but the idea is catching on.
Belnap admits he wasn't a huge Jazz fan when this all started, though he's fast becoming one. For him, it's about the learning experience.
"Through this I've learned how to interact with different people, how to be professional, how to make negotiations, and how to be a business person," he said.
As far as a grade for his senior project, we assume he's already gotten an A+.