Ranking the NHL Arenas from Worst to Best

 A general view of the Rogers Place arena in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.

Just like some NHL hockey teams, some arenas are simply better than others. We’ve created a list of every NHL arena and ranked it from worst to best according to the venue’s max capacity for NHL games. Here, we take a look at these venues and share some interesting facts about their history. 

31. Nassau Coliseum – 13,917 capacity

Home team: New York Islanders

While not quite the oldest arena on this list, it’s only four years short of being the oldest NHL arena, after it was opened in 1972 (the oldest is Madison Square Garden). The old-school design of this venue in Uniondale, New York lacked private suites, which undoubtedly had an appeal with some fans, but unfortunately it was announced in June 2020 that the arena would be closed indefinitely while the current owner sought out new investors. 

30. Bell MTS Place – 15,321

Home team: Winnipeg Jets

This arena may be new, but it’s also relatively small compared to other venues that were opened around the early 2000s. The Bell MTS Place opened in 2004 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was designed to replace the Winnipeg Arena. The arena had a controversial development, as it used to be home to Eaton’s, a retailer with a long history in Canada. Several groups tried to stop the redevelopment of the space, but fortunately for hockey fans (and unfortunately for Eaton’s fans), the ground was cleared for the new arena in 2002.

29. Prudential Center – 16,514

 The entrance of the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Donell Woodson/Getty Images.

Home team: New Jersey Devils

The Prudential Center, more affectionately known as “The Rock”, was originally built to ensure that the New Jersey Devils’ franchise would remain in New Jersey, after rumors suggested it might move to a new location with better facilities.

The Newark-based Center hosts community games organized by the nonprofit organization, the New Jersey Warriors Hockey. This organization is home to more than two dozen disabled veterans who get together to play hockey as a part of their recovery.

28. Bridgestone Arena – 17,113

Home team: Nashville Predators

This arena in Nashville, Tennessee has been in existence since 1996, and has taken home the Arena of the Year award twice. Notable NHL events that have taken place in this arena include the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, as well as Games 3, 4, and 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.

Just after a decade of operation, the decision was made to begin renovations in 2007. Since then, three more renovations have taken place,  introducing new seating and a new scoreboard. 

27. Gila River Arena – 17,125

Home team: Arizona Coyotes

The Gila River Arena is part of the $1 billion Westgate Entertainment District development in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes’ previous venue, the America West Arena, had not been built with NHL games in mind, and developers struggled to adapt it for a regulation NHL-size hockey rink. This and other issues motivated the Coyotes to find a new location for the team, which turned out to be what is now known as the Gila River Arena. 

If you’re a fan of hockey, the Coyotes, and craft beer (or even just craft beer), you can enjoy the official Coyotes brew, the Yotes Pale Ale, at the arena.

26. Honda Center – 17,174

Home team: Anaheim Ducks

Originally known as the Anaheim Arena and based in the Californian town of the same name, the Honda Center first opened its doors in 1993, and would later go on to host Games 3, 4 and 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, as well as Games 1, 2 and 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. 

This arena was used for shooting scenes of the 1994 hockey movie D2: The Mighty Ducks, and has a store dedicated to Mighty Ducks merchandise.

25. T-Mobile Arena – 17,368

An aerial view of the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Home team: Vegas Golden Knights

This arena in Paradise, Las Vegas is owned by AEG and MGM Resorts International, and operated by MGM Resorts International. Due to its desert location, where resources such as water and electricity are harder to come by, it was designed with sustainability in mind – and the arena received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council for its approach.

Golden Knights fans also had the pleasure of watching three games from the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals in this arena, even if the Washington Capitals were the ones to raise the Cup at the end of the series.

24. Canadian Tire Centre – 17,373

Home team: Ottawa Senators

This arena in the Canadian capital has gone through many names since it was first opened in January 1996, but one thing that never changed was its focus on the NHL. The opening-day event may have been a Bryan Adams concert, but it was only two days after first welcomingvisitors that the first major NHL game took place, between the Montréal Canadiens and the Senators. This arena has also hosted Games 3 and 4 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.

23. SAP Center – 17,562

Home team: San Jose Sharks

Another one of the older arenas that’s still in operation, the SAP Center is home to the San Jose Sharks, which has resulted it becoming known as “The Shark Tank”. The venue, which almost failed to pass a vote for community approval, came into being thanks to the efforts of a community group called Fund Arena Now. But soon after construction, upgrades had to be made for the arena to qualify for NHL and NBA use.  

The SAP Center hosted the 1997 and 2019 NHL All-Star Games, as well as Games 3, 4, and 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

22. TD Garden – 17,565

 An outside view of the TD Garden arena, Boston. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Home team: Boston Bruins

The largest sports and entertainment arena in New England, TD Garden was built as a replacement for the Boston Garden. However, it took decades for the plan to finally get off the ground, and it was only in 1995 that the TD Garden was opened. Since then the arena has hosted the Bruins, and two major NHL events: the 1996 NHL All-Star Game, and the 1999 NHL Draft. 

The arena has also demonstrated its love of hockey with a magnificent statue of Bobby Orr, based on the photo of his winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup.

21. Ball Arena – 17,809

Home team: Colorado Avalanche

This arena used to be called the Pepsi Center, under which it operated for just over 21 years. However, the naming rights were purchased by the Ball Corporation in 1999, which saw the venue adopt the new name: the Ball Arena. Based in Denver, Colorado, the venue has hosted the 2001 NHL All-Star Game, as well as Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, with the Avalanche raising the cup at the end of the 7th game. 

One of the benefits of watching at the Ball Arena is the “ball/puck in play” policy, which states that arena guests must wait at the top of the aisle or the bottom of the stairs when the puck is in play. Ushers are there to enforce these rules and ensure spectators aren’t affected by people unnecessarily walking around.

20. Xcel Energy Center – 17,954

Home team: Minnesota Wild

After the Minnesota North Stars moved the franchise to Dallas, it became clear that a new arena would be necessary if Saint Paul wanted to attract and retain a sports franchise. The Xcel Energy Center opened in September 2000, with the first NHL game taking place between the Minnesota Wild and the Philadelphia Flyers in early October of that year. The arena is home to Hocktoberfest, hosted by the Minnesota Wild, and it has also hosted the 2004 NHL All Star Game.

19. Madison Square Garden – 18,006

Home team: New York Rangers

It doesn’t matter if you’re a hockey fan or not, you’ve probably heard of Madison Square Garden, which is an iconic location to locals, and has featured in many films. Non-American citizens might not know that the arena is also known as “The Garden”, or simply “MSG”. Unlike many other arenas, it’s the last arena to maintain its original identity and not have to adopt a corporate sponsorship name. 

MSG is the oldest arena on this list, having first opened its doors to the public in 1968. It’s this history that makes it one of the most important arenas on our list, even if it can’t host as many people as newer venues can.

18. Enterprise Center – 18,096

Home team: St. Louis Blues

In 1985, The St. Louis Blues were thinking about packing up the franchise for greener pastures. The business community did not want to see their local team go, so they put together a strategy to buy the team. However, it would take five years of planning, and as far as they had gotten, they realized they needed a modern, professional arena to keep the Blues around. This began the development of the new arena in St. Louis: the Enterprise Center, which opened in October 1994.

The arena recently hosted the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, and St. Louis Blues fans can visit the Hall of Fame Plaza for even more NHL excitement.

17. Nationwide Arena – 18,144

The plaza outside the entrance of the Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images.

Home team: Columbus Blue Jackets

Desperately in need of a modern sports arena, the City of Columbus, Ohio officially opened the Nationwide Arena in September 2000. This, combined with the development of an NHL franchise in 1996, saw the NHL return to the region. Before the Columbus Blues, the last team that had done so were the Cleveland Barons, who last played in 1978. 

Hockey fans are sure to get a kick out of the replica cannon, which fires at exciting moments during a Blue Jackets game.

16. Staples Center – 18,230

Home team: Los Angeles Kings

While the Staples Center may be better known as the home of the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers, it’s also home to the local NHL team, the LA Kings. The Star Plaza, just outside the arena, is home to a number of statues of famous LA athletes. NHL fans can set their eyes upon statues of Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, as well as Kings broadcaster Bob Miller. A statue that commemorates the Kings’ Stanley Cup winning teams is also on display, as well as banners for retired numbers and murals of cornerstone moments in the Staples Center’s sporting history.

15. Rogers Place – 18,347

Home team: Edmonton Oilers

The Northlands Coliseum, which was first opened in 1974, grew too outdated to meet the needs of modern sports teams, which resulted in the construction of Rogers Place. This sports arena – in Edmonton, Alberta – is actually one of the newest arenas on our list, only opening in 2016 (the only newer arena is Little Caesars). 

This arena was one of the three venues used by the NHL for the Playoffs bubble, and was the only one used for the Finals’ bubble. If you are an Oilers’ fan, you can also visit the Oilers Hall of Fame, or if you’re watching a game, enjoy the antics of Hunter, the Oilers’ mascot.

14. PPG Paints Arena – 18,387

Home team: Pittsburgh Penguins

The PPG Paints Arena is another venue that was built to replace another aging arena. In this case, it was the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, which was originally built in 1961. This new arena was designed with the latest technology in mind, including hi-tech luxury suites, and a focus on sustainability, with the arena being the first NHL arena to be awarded a LEED Gold Certification.

NHL fans who visit this arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania can also take in a magnificent statue, called Le Magnifique, of Mario Lemieux as he scores against the New York Islanders in 1988. They can also marvel at banners for the Penguins’ Stanley Cup wins, retired jersey numbers, and other awards that the team has earned.

13. Capital One Arena – 18,506

The entrance to the Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C. Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for William Hill US.

Home team: Washington Capitals

You can find this arena in the heart of downtown Washington D.C., where it was built to help bring attention to the surrounding area, which it’s succeeded in doing since it opened its doors in 1997. The arena goes a bit further than many venues in catering for people with special needs. A partnership with KultureCity has allowed it to help provide support to those with additional sensory needs, which can be requested from the arena’s staff.

The venue has hosted the 1998 Stanley Cup and 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. In 2018, the Capitals were able to take home the cup for the first time, and fans are reminded of this momentous occasion by the 2018 championship banner, which hangs from the roof of the arena.

12. American Airlines Center – 18,532

Home team: Dallas Stars

The Reunion Arena was no longer meeting the needs of the Dallas Stars, and the American Airlines Center opened its doors in 2001 to offer the NHL team, as well as other local sports organizations, a new and improved venue for play. The design and appearance of the venue, as well as the naming rights being owned by American Airlines, has resulted in the arena being affectionately nicknamed “The Hangar”. 

Fans will have the opportunity to view all the NHL trophies that Stars players have received, as well as a replica of the Stanley Cup. You’ll also be able to meet the team’s mascot, participate in fan contests, and enjoy a show from the Dallas Stars Ice Girls.

11. PNC Arena – 18,680

Home team: Carolina Hurricanes

This arena in Raleigh, North Carolina was originally designed for basketball, before being adapted into a multi-sport arena. It opened in October 1999, undergoing several name changes before settling on its current name in March 2012.

NHL fans got to experience the new arena on its opening night, when the Hurricanes played against the New Jersey Devils. It then hosted the playoff series in 2001, as well as Games 3, 4, and 6 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It also hosted the Playoffs and Finals for the Stanley Cup in the following year. The Hurricanes were not able to take home victory either of these years, and it was only in 2006, the third time the arena hosted the Playoffs and Finals, that the Hurricanes beat the Edmonton Oilers and claimed the Stanley Cup. 

The Playoffs once again took place at the venue in 2009, and once more a decade later in 2019.

10. Scotiabank Arena – 18,819

 The New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers shake hands before a game at the Scotiabank Arena. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Home team: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Scotiabank Arena introduces the top 10 arenas on our list, and was actually the site of a Canada Post building that was bought by the owners of the Toronto Raptors NBA team. During a development period that was marred by controversy, it was eventually converted into a multi-purpose arena, with the addition of facilities for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite being completed in late December 1998, the Toronto venue would only open two months later in February 1999. This arena would be known by several names, including The Hangar (not to be confused with the American Airlines Center, no.12 on our list), and the ACC (an abbreviation for when it was known as the Air Canada Center).

The Maple Leafs played their first game at the arena in February, a day after the venue opened. Since then the venue has hosted numerous hockey-related events, including the World Hockey Summit, and the 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. 

9. Rogers Arena – 18,910

Home team: Vancouver Canucks

After the Pacific Coliseum, which had been operating since 1968, was deemed no longer suitable as the home of Vancouver’s NHL and NBA teams, a new venue was needed to host major events in Vancouver. The General Motors Palace, known as the Rogers Arena since July 2010, was built to fulfill this need. 

This venue is another arena that’s taken extra steps to provide services for those with special needs, including additional wheelchair access and seating locations, special captioning for those with hearing impairments, and additional services for those with autism.

This venue hosted the ice hockey games for the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Fans visiting Rogers Arena can get a great view of the retired numbers and the players who wore them, thanks to the banners hanging from the roof.

8. KeyBank Center – 19,070

Home team: Buffalo Sabres

When the Sabres needed a new home to replace the Memorial Auditorium, the KeyBank Center was constructed. In October 1996, a few weeks after the arena first opened its doors, the Sabres played their first game in their new home. Since then, the Buffalo, New York venue has undergone numerous renovations, including updates to the Sabres color scheme and logo, additional seating, as well as new LED boards and signage. 

The arena hosted the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the 2016 NHL Entry Draft almost two decades later, and Games 3, 4, and 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Other non-NHL events that were hosted by the arena include an IIHF World Junior Championship, and an Ontario Hockey League contest.

NHL fans who visit the arena will be able to enjoy the various items on display to celebrate the team’s history, as well as numerous statues, including one of the legendary defenceman Tim Horton.

7. Amalie Arena – 19,902

A general view of the Amalie Arena with lights dimmed. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Home team: Tampa Bay Lightning

Originally known as the Ice Palace, the Amalie Arena opened its doors in October 1996 in Tampa, Florida. This venue only came into existence after the original plans to build a major-league arena near the Tampa Stadium fell through. 

This venue has seen some important moments in the Lightning’s history, including their first game at the venue against the New York Rangers on October 20, which they won 5-3. Other highlights include the 1999 NHL All-Star Game, hosting Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, and hosting Games 1, 2, and 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. Despite winning the 2020 Stanley Cup, the finals were hosted at Rogers Place in the NHL bubble owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fans can enjoy some of the team’s history in the Thunder Alley area in the arena, with several statues of key players on display.  

6. BB&T Center – 19,250

Home team: Florida Panthers

The NHL team that would become known as the Florida Panthers started off without a home arena. Work began in 1996 on a new arena in Sunrise, Florida, and  it opened to the public in October 1998. Six days later, the Florida Panthers played their first game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The arena changed ownership numerous times over the years before BB&T took over in 2012. Since then, the arena has been known as the BB&T Center.

The arena has hosted three major NHL events: the 2001 and 2015 NHL Entry Draft events, as well as the 2003 NHL All-Star Game.

NHL and Panthers fans are able to enjoy the Den of Honor, a place where all the players who’ve excelled on the team are remembered. This includes 11 Hall of Fame players, two Rookies of the Year, and winners of the Rocket Richard Trophy.  

5. Scotiabank Saddledome – 19,289

Home team: Calgary Flames

The Scotiabank Saddledome was built in 1983 as a replacement for the much smaller Stampede Corral. The Corral could only seat a maximum of 7,475 spectators, while the Saddledom offered almost three times that capacity. The growing interest in hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, and the Calgary Flames joining the NHL were the two main reasons that this development get off the ground.

Disaster struck the arena in June 2013, when the Alberta floods hit the Saddledome. Hockey gear, video equipment, and the arena’s massive jumbotron were all damaged by the rampaging water. However, a commitment to have the arena back up and running saw repairs radically sped up as crews worked around the clock to fix the stadium. By September the arena reopened, with the first hockey game taking place three days after.

The Saddledome has hosted numerous important NHL events including the 1985 NHL All-Star Game, the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, and three Stanley Cup Finals in 1986, 1989, and 2004. 

Despite losing some of their memorabilia to the floods in 2013, there are still a number of other sporting artifacts from events and teams for sports and hockey fans to enjoy. In the arena itself, Flames fans will also be able to take in the banners detailing the team’s achievements. 

4. Little Caesars Arena – 19,515

A view from the street outside the Little Caesars arena in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images.

Home team: Detroit Red Wings

The newest arena on our list, the Little Caesars Arena, opened to the public in 2017. This new arena, in Midtown Detroit, became the home for two teams, the Detroit Red Wings, as well as the Detroit Pistons. Their respective original homes, the Joe Louis Arena and The Palace of the Auburn Hills were closed after the teams moved, and both were demolished in 2020.

On September 23, 2017, just under three weeks after the new arena was opened, the Red Wings played against the Boston Bruins and won the game. Since then, the arena has hosted the Great Lakes Invitational, as well as the 2020 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four ice hockey events.

While not quite as impressive as some other arenas’ halls of fame, fans can view a number of exhibits and art, as well as retired numbers and championship banners for the Red Wings in the arena.

3. Wells Fargo Center – 19,543

Home team: Philadelphia Flyers

We’re into the top three for arenas with the largest capacity, and the Wells Fargo Center doesn’t disappoint. With a maximum capacity of 19,543, this arena opened to the public in 1996 in Pennsylvania’s largest city, and is home to three sporting teams: the Philadelphia Flyers, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Philadelphia Wings. 

Apart from hosting Flyers’ home games, the Wells Fargo Center has also hosted the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The arena is also home to the Flyers’ mascot, Gritty, who can be spotted wandering the arena before Flyers’ games. True fans can show their support for the team (and Gritty) by getting “Grittified” at a local salon!

Before games, fans can always get their air hockey on, or enjoy many of the other arcade and table games, or even destroy items displaying the opposition’s branding in the recently opened rage room, dubbed the “Disassembly Room”.

2. United Center – 19,717

Home team: Chicago Blackhawks

The United Center, the second largest arena on our list, welcomed the public on August 18, 1994. It was constructed to meet the needs of the Chicago Stadium, which was demolished in 1995. The Blackhawks share ownership of the arena with the Bulls in an even 50/50 deal, with the teams taking several opportunities over the years to upgrade the center. Over the decades, it has seen the introduction of flatscreen TVs, additional food and beverage stations, an additional court with a hardwood floor, and a new scoreboard. 

The venue has hosted three Stanley Cups Finals – in 2010, 2013, and 2015. The Blackhawks have won all three finals that they took part in, but it was only the 2015 Stanley Cup that they won at home.

While “The Spirit” Michael Jordan statue may draw the most attention from sports fans, the United Center is also home to statues of Blackhawks’ finest: Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. The arena is also filled with banners for both the Bulls’ and Blackhawks’ victories, which will undoubtedly make locals feel an overwhelming sense of pride in what their teams have accomplished.

1. Bell Centre – 21,302

The outside of the Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, while preparations are being made for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.

Home team: Montreal Canadiens

The last and largest arena on our list is the Bell Centre with a maximum capacity of 21,302 spectators for NHL games. It opened in March 1996, and has since hosted the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, as well as the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Unfortunately, the Montreal Canadiens have yet to bring a Stanley Cup Final to this venue. 

Starting in 2015, the decades-old venue underwent a number of upgrades, including new restaurants, replacing the arena’s seats, and adding Wi-Fi. Unfortunately this was not enough to help the Bell Centre maintain its previous years’ sales, with Canadiens games frequently sold out. In 2018 however, the Montreal Gazette reported that the sellout streak was in jeopardy due to declining performance from the Canadiens.

Still, there are many dedicated Canadiens fans about today, and a lot for arena visitors to enjoy. If you go to the Bell Center, you can see the close on 20 numbers that have been retired by the team, hanging from the rafters. Fans can also take in the statue of historic Montreal Canadiens player, Guy “The Flower” Lafleur. 

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