This happened in some of the older venues in the league that were worn out with run-down amenities but really offered a one-of-a-kind experience with plenty of hockey history and general old-school charm. On the complete oposite end of the spectrum, some of the newer buildings scored higher than I would have liked numerically, because to me, they seemed generic and unfinished in person.
So, about mid-way through my trip, I decided that I would have to come back and RANK the arenas once I had seen them all. Notice the different word there, RANKING vs. RATING. I will be referring to a stadium’s numerical score as its “rating” and its final position as its “ranking”.
Rankings are much easier to explain. In general, I looked at two arenas and asked myself, “where would I rather watch an NHL game?”. So, after asking myself that question several hundred times, I think I’ve produced a final arena ranking that I am comfortable sharing with you.
Yet another disclaimer: Don’t bite my head off if you disagree with anything on the list. The nature of ranking preferences is extremely subjective, so this is just how I feel. Not to mention, I haven’t spend more than three hours in some of these places.
So, find a grain of salt and enjoy (my opinion)!
Both the rankings and numerical ratings are available by clicking “Arena Rankings” in the menu above.
|I'm not wild about its location or exterior, but the concourse and atmosphere more than make up for its shortcomings. I wouldn't think twice buying season tickets.|
|The team with the most history has an arena that shows it off proudly. The energy in on a game-day in Montreal is tough to beat.|
|A great hockey building with fans that know how to make noise. As long as the team is doing well, DC will be a fun hockey town.|
|4.||Wells Fargo Center|
|One of the better 'new-age' buildings in the league. Comfortable and spacious. Just don't forget to wear your orange.|
|Can be one of the loudest buildings in the league when it wants to be. Not to mention it's becoming a hip place to be seen in Tinseltown.|
|6.||Xcel Energy Center|
|A cozy ski-lodge of a building that makes you want to enjoy your game with a cup of hot chocolate. Oh, and hockey lives here.|
|7.||American Airlines Center|
|One of the biggest buildings in the league, but it uses its space well. Elegant and well finished, the fan experience in Texas is top notch.|
|8.||Joe Louis Arena|
|As long as you don't mind being crammed into creaky old seats, The Joe is the closest you'll come to time travel in the NHL.|
|9.||Madison Square Garden|
|Toughest arena to rank mid-renovation. In three years, MSG will either become one of the nicer barns in the league, or lose most of its retro-charm. Or both.|
|Perhaps the most visually aesthetic exterior in the league. And when the on-ice product is good, the fans know what to do.|
|One of the most comfortable bowls in the NHL with a one-of-a-kind concourse. If hockey were more important in Atlanta, they'd be onto something.|
|With a unique exterior design and simple but classy interior, the tank might be one of the loudest buildings in the NHL.|
|In Boston, the fans make Bruins games entertaining. They also like to watch hockey when they aren't busy dancing on the jumbotron.|
|14.||Air Canada Centre|
|A massive building that fills to the brim every night. You should have no problem getting in if you're willing to pay $100 for a standing room spot.|
|A cozy venue in the back woods of North Carolina. Plenty of tailgating, BBQ and southern hostpitality in the south.|
|An average building in an above average city. Fans know their hockey, even if they don't shout it at the top of their lungs.|
|17.||Consol Energy Center|
|One of the newer, cleaner buildings in the league. Give it a decade or two to grow into itself and make its own history.|
|18.||St. Pete Times Forum|
|One of the best jumbotrons in the league and what I maintain is the loudest goal horn as well.|
|A great building with plenty of unique local amenities. Unfortunately, both Avs hockey and the attendance at the can have seen better days.|
|Physically, one of the more recognizable venues with its sloping saddle roof, not to mention a McDonald's Playplace looking entrance.|
|Sporting a fancy palm-treed exterior suitable for southern California, the Pond's interior leaves something to be desired.|
|Your average NHL arena that has done its best to make its remote surroundings desirable. Time will tell if the effort pays off.|
|Not a bad barn, but it would benefit from an interior makeover. Just a fresh coat of paint through the concourse would go a long way.|
|Centralized location, decent food options, and not to mention the only building with a cannon...obviously.|
|The newest NHL arena has a very sterile feel. Its lack of character make it just a large building that happens to host NHL games.|
|The smallest barn in the league. If not for its remote location, unimpressive exterior and mediocre hockey, games would be a blast to watch in such a small space.|
|Shares Anaheim's disparity between interior and exterior. Has the smallest jumbotron in the league and some of the worst post-game traffic.|
|A older building that shows its age. Not many bells or whistles inside or out, unless you're into oil rigs.|
|Not much better than average with the exception of favorable downtown location and booming goal horn.|
|A massive structure with extremely outdated video boards and a less than stellar fan base. Hey, someone had to be last.|