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2013 NBA Arena Rankings

By Paul Swaney -- April 29, 2013 10:39 AM EDT


For the 2012-2013 season, we have rated all but one NBA venue as an above average stadium experience. Our ratings are meant to measure the overall fan experience of attending a game. Factors we include are food and beverage in the arena, overall atmosphere, the neighborhood, the fans, access (which includes parking, traffic, restrooms, and concourses), return on investment, and an "extras" category for any unique or bonus points. We use our official ratings when determining the ranking with "crowd reviews" - those reviews from our members - as our primary tiebreaker. Without further ado, our 2013 NBA Arena rankings:

  1. AT&T Center - Home of the San Antonio Spurs

    For the first time, we have the home of the San Antonio Spurs in our top spot for best NBA arena experience. When the AT&T Center hosts a San Antonio Spurs game, fans find out that that perfection is attainable. Whether it’s the immaculately clean arena (from seating areas, to concourse, to restrooms), the wide variety of concession items, or the passionate Spurs fanbase, there’s little doubt that your visit to the AT&T Center will be one of the best sporting experiences you’ve ever had.

  2. Staples Center - Home of the Los Angeles Lakers

    In recent years, the Staples Center has seemingly become the basketball capital of the world. With its futuristic look and cascading lights atop the arena, the venue has become one of the most identifiable in all of sports. It hosts not one, but two NBA franchises and can facilitate a home game for both the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in the same day! Opened in 1999, the Lakers would gain even more of a Los Angeles identity, moving to the downtown Staples Center, a venue which has acted as the keystone of the downtown revitalization. The arena wasted no time making its mark on professional sports, as the Lakers won the NBA championship in its opening season.

  3. Amway Center - Home of the Orlando Magic

    If having a gorgeous place to watch a game is why you come to the place, then it is outstanding. It is very upscale, even if you are in the cheap seats. The employees there are among the friendliest stadium workers in the business. They really go out of their way. They have something for everyone, including a play area for the little kids. Even outside the arena, walking in and going up the escalators to your seats is impressive. The streets are clean and the arena is lit up in Magic Blue lights. The lobby looks like something you'd find in an airport. For "WOW" it is hard to beat.

  4. Barclays Center - Home of the Brooklyn Nets

    It took over eight years from inception, but the Barclays Center is everything that people expected and hoped for. With a successful team in the making, the Brooklyn Nets have found a new arena to call their own; one that has everything to offer for a fan of the game. The nights of an empty arena at the Prudential Center are officially over, as the Nets have something to be proud of...and it starts at home.

  5. Toyota Center - Home of the Houston Rockets

    New in 2012 is the installation of the largest arena video scoreboard in the nation. The atmosphere inside Toyota Center is beyond entertaining whether it’s Clutch the Rockets Bear pulling a prank on an unsuspecting fan, the Rockets Power Dancers drawing all eyes on the court, the Red Rowdies raising the decibel level, or new young talent like James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik. All things considered, Toyota Center is one of the top sports venues nationwide and worthy of a visit from sports fans of all kinds.

  6. Wells Fargo Center - Home of the Philadelphia 76ers

    Wherever you are sitting in the Wells Fargo Center, the first thing you may notice is the great balance that the venue has. There's the intimacy of a small venue combined with the feeling, noise-level and look of a huge stadium. You will be connected to the game and the experience wherever your seat may be.

  7. Staples Center - Home of the Los Angeles Clippers

    As you walk into the arena, you begin to feel the Clipper environment. The fans are clad in red and blue colors. As you walk towards your seats through the black curtains, you'll see the court is now surrounded by red and the paint is colored blue. The open wall space throughout the interior of the arena is covered by Clippers banners. The upper wall space in corners of the arena has projection Clippers logos and the ridiculously impressive scoreboard is now flashing red and blue. The public address announcer, David Courtney, will soon welcome you to Clipper basketball and you'll be in for an entirely different experience than the other LA-based basketball team presents.

  8. Chesapeake Energy Arena - Home of the Oklahoma City Thunder

    When the arena was built, it only met minimum NBA and NHL specifications, lacking more costly amenities such as luxury boxes as there was no guarantee of a major league tenant. However, the facility had the ability to add such features should a professional sports team relocate to the city. While the Supersonics acquisition was being negotiated, the local government placed a sales tax initiative on the city election ballot which passed by a 62% to 38% margin. This tax extension funded the new amenities, which were completed in 2009 and left the arena as one of the best in the NBA.

  9. Pepsi Center - Home of the Denver Nuggets

    As the Pepsi Center moves into its second decade of use, the arena remains state-of-the-art both inside and out. Located in the heart of Denver, Pepsi is definitely the center of attention on many Colorado nights and the stunning multi-use arena is befitting the beautiful capital of the Centennial State. It is home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, the NLL's Colorado Mammoth, and it regularly hosts the world's biggest musical performers when they come to town.

  10. Madison Square Garden - Home of the New York Knicks

    When you attend a Knicks game, the building is usually electric. Unlike most modern arenas, the crowd is always into the game without being necessarily prodded on. The seating bowl has been changed downstairs so now there are more seats that are closer together which creates an even more intimate setting. With the Knicks playing better in recent years, the team feeds off the fans. New Yorkers have a reputation of being fickle at times. When the team does well, they're right behind them. When that happens, the stage is second to none. If the product on the court isn't at its best, people get entertained by the Knicks City Dancers as well as by the 7th Avenue Squad who shoot t-shirts into the crowd and they also pump up the spectators during timeouts.

  11. Moda Center - Home of the Portland Trail Blazers

    Rose Garden Arena has held various impressive sellout streaks, the longest being 195 games, about five years. The arena also offers many family and special event nights from mascot night to 80s night. These events can be fun with fans going all out and the Rose Garden making each night a different atmosphere. When it comes to diehard fans, there's no question the Trail Blazers fans provide one of the most exciting atmospheres in the NBA.

  12. AmericanAirlines Arena - Home of the Miami Heat

    AmericanAirlines Arena is located right on Biscayne Bay. From there, you can see where the big cruise ships dock, and not only are there great things to do around the Arena, there are numerous great spots to get something to eat or drink before or after the game.

    Sports fans in South Florida have a reputation for being fair-weather. If the team is winning, then they will show up; if not, they won't. At this point of great success for the Heat, the fans are showing up in droves. In previous years, including low years on the court, attendance has fallen to the middle of the NBA pack, which was better than I expected. The fans that attend are a much more lively bunch than you might expect. They definitely appreciate the star power that they are seeing, and give huge ovations when LeBron James puts down a big dunk, or Dwayne Wade hits a key 3-pointer.

  13. American Airlines Center - Home of the Dallas Mavericks

    From the outside, the stadium is quite beautiful, resembling an old train station rather than an entertainment venue. The exterior of American Airlines Center is composed of brick, limestone and granite and the signature arches give it the unique look. As you drive north on I-35E, the AAC majestically appears on your right. It could be an old airport perhaps, and with the naming rights purchased by American, the locals often refer to it as "The Hangar" because of its unique design. Interestingly, the arena lies below certain flight paths leaving DFW airport and on a clear day, you can see the American Airlines logo on the roof as you pass overhead.

  14. EnergySolutions Arena - Home of the Utah Jazz

    The defining characteristic of ESA is volume. Jazz fans consistently rank among the loudest in the NBA, even during "down" years. If you have sensitive hearing (or want to prevent having it), earplugs are always available at guest services. Otherwise, be prepared to soak in (or bring) the noise.

  15. Time Warner Cable Arena - Home of the Charlotte Hornets

    Time Warner Cable Arena opened as Charlotte Bobcats Arena in 2005, and has made news for a number of reasons in its short existence. The Charlotte Bobcats -- though many Charlotteans have clamored for a return of the Hornets name to the franchise -- continue to build their team's history. Every legacy needs a great foundation, and this beautiful facility in uptown Charlotte certainly provides that foundation.

  16. Smoothie King Center - Home of the New Orleans Pelicans

    A unique arena tradition is the wrestling great Ric Flair "woo" when the team's star player scores. Flair's "woo" is played queued and fans respond with a "woo" of their own. The tradition began with Baron Davis and continued with Chris Paul after that. It's still a signature in-game tradition at the arena today.

  17. Talking Stick Resort Arena - Home of the Phoenix Suns

    Although the Suns are getting away from the color purple in their logos, almost all of the seats in USAC are still purple; the exception being the floor seats which are black. These seats led to the nickname "The Purple Palace." All of the seats in the main seating area are padded, and have cup holders. The Suns logo at center court is unique because it looks exactly the same from each side of the arena.

  18. Bankers Life Fieldhouse - Home of the Indiana Pacers

    Once you enter the main lobby of the Fieldhouse you are quickly reminded that you are entering a party and not just a game. There are bands, drum groups, ushers welcoming you onto the concourse and a bevy of cheerleaders who will take a picture with you. If you do not feel welcomed by any of this, please check your pulse.

  19. Quicken Loans Arena - Home of the Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cavs introduce the team with a lights-off video presentation followed by starter introductions accompanied by flames shooting out of the swords on the scoreboard. The fiery swords are a novelty as other arenas wheel out devices to shoot flames or shoot them from behind the backboard.

  20. The Palace of Auburn Hills - Home of the Detroit Pistons

    Much of the arena still feels shiny and new, and recent renovations that have made for a cleaner presentation in the concourse, and added some innovative group and party areas helping make the Palace a wonderful place to see the NBA. Now the team just needs to show improvement in the win column and the fans need to come out to see them.

  21. Verizon Center - Home of the Washington Wizards

    Wizards fans have had some exciting moments over the past 15 years, including hosting the 1999 NBA Draft and 2001 NBA All-Star Game, MIchael Jordan’s second NBA comeback in 2001 and hosting playoffs games for 3 consecutive years (2006-08) against the Lebron-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, success has been fleeting over the years and the Wizards have only had 4 winning seasons since they opened their arena, never exceeding 45 wins in any one campaign.

  22. Philips Arena - Home of the Atlanta Hawks

    Rising out of the ashes of the old Omni came Philips Arena. Given the moniker "The Highlight Factory," Philips Arena was driven by the vision of former Hawks owner Ted Turner as part of his push for an NHL expansion team. The Atlanta Thrashers are gone, and the Hawks have gone through some significant turmoil, but the Highlight Factory remains a central figure in downtown Atlanta.

  23. FedExForum - Home of the Memphis Grizzlies

    Memphis is a college basketball town and the Grizzlies are a secondary tenant, much as they were in Vancouver with the Canucks the local lords. What this means is that the team is always trying to sell more tickets, rather than entertain the fans that are there. During breaks, you are as likely to hear an ad for upcoming games or a ticket promotion as to have t-shirts fired into the crowd.

  24. Oracle Arena - Home of the Golden State Warriors

    Oracle Arena has long been considered one of the better atmospheres in all of basketball. This was put on display when they FINALLY reached the playoffs in 2007, and upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. This put the national spotlight on the great atmosphere at Oracle. Even though the arena is over 45 years old the exterior façade and the interior aesthetics don't show their age as you might think. The x pattern around the building is actually a modern look and the renovated concourses are quite nice, albeit narrow.

  25. Air Canada Centre - Home of the Toronto Raptors

    Although it may sound like sour grapes, the plethora of athletes who have left or forced trades have fed into an inferiority complex that plagues fans of the Toronto Raptors; always fearing that superstar American players are unwilling to play north of the border. As a result, the current incarnation of the NBA club has left fans apathetic. With no star in a star driven league, the reality is that the Raptors are now struggling to capture the interest of fans in Leaf-land.

    The Raptors share much with the big brother Maple Leafs including ownership, arena, and poor showing at gametime. Living in downtown Toronto, at the Air Canada Centre, which is also owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Raptors have had a rough go on the court the last couple of years, and it has taken its toll on the turnstile.

  26. BMO Harris Bradley Center - Home of the Milwaukee Bucks

    Back in 2001, the Bucks were one of the NBA’s best teams with Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn Robinson. At that point, things were great for the franchise. They were playing in front of a pretty full arena every night, and were 13th in the NBA in attendance with over 16,000 fans per game. In 2002, they averaged 18,178 fans, 12th in the league. Nowadays, though, people just don’t necessarily believe in the Bucks. To begin the 2012-2013 season they are 27th in attendance, averaging 13,960 per home game.

  27. TD Garden - Home of the Boston Celtics

    Fans at the Garden are passionate and knowledgeable enough to follow the game. However, the unfortunate truth is that with the C's recent success, many of the old diehards have been priced out, replaced by local celebs or moneyed elite who don't have as much history with the team. No question that the joint was rocking during the championship run in spring of 2008. But during a regular season game in mid-February, C's fans are up to the task but not overly impressive.

  28. Target Center - Home of the Minnesota Timberwolves

    The first thing that stands out in the Target Center is the giant jumbotron at center court. An amendment to the arena during the 2004 renovation, it has four clear, large screens that offer a panoramic view of the action on the court. Most pertinent information about the game can be found above the screen or is otherwise clearly displayed in various locations around the arena.

  29. United Center - Home of the Chicago Bulls

    Beyond the championship aura, the United Center is a stadium that’s easy to appreciate and hard to love. From a design standpoint, it’s a model of efficiency. In terms of character, though, the name is not the only thing that’s reminiscent of an airport.

  30. Sleep Train Arena - Home of the Sacramento Kings

    One can recall the heyday of the Kings and how the rambunctious crowd compensated for the lacking facility. That is no longer the case. The scratched wooden stairs, flimsy plastic seats and out of date video board are all eyesores. In fact, it's hard to believe that this arena was ever state of the art. The video board is covered with sponsorships. Though, the surrounding area has plenty of stats that seem to be lost on newer ones.


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