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2014 NHL Arena Rankings

By Paul Swaney -- May 29, 2014 12:25 PM EDT

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We continue to make visits to each NHL arena to ensure that we provide you with the most updated recommendations and information on how to make the most of your live sporting events. 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. Included is an excerpt from each of our official reviews. Click on the stadium name to access the full review. Without further ado, our 2014 NHL Arena rankings:

  1. Xcel Energy Center - Home of the Minnesota Wild

    The fans know the game and appreciate the little things, such as clearing the puck on the penalty kill, or a good defensive play to prevent a scoring chance. That is what gives the Xcel a truly special atmosphere and, even though the initial luster of having the NHL back in Minnesota has worn off, there is still a buzz around the building – especially now, with the new management and the trajectory the team seems to be on for the future.

  2. Verizon Center - Home of the Washington Capitals

    Just before the Capitals take the ice, the lights go out and suspenseful music pulsates through the PA system while the giant video boards above the ice flash pictures of DC and highlights of Capitals games gone by. All of this comes to a head when the red lights come on, the foghorn blows, and the stadium rocks with the sound of 18,000+ chanting, "Rock the Red!" The fans are rowdy, the food is good, and the action is fast-paced. What more could a hockey fan ask for?

  3. MTS Centre - Home of the Winnipeg Jets

    With a metropolitan population of 850,000, Winnipeg is the NHL’s smallest metro market, but is unquestionably among the most passionate in the league. When you walk inside the seating area of the arena, there is a distinctive sign which appears high on the east side of the rink at the first level of the press box. It reads “Home of the Winnipeg Jets – Fuelled by Passion.” As the new Jets continue to weave their impression into the fabric of Manitoba’s capital, visitors to the MTS Centre can look forward to a first-class NHL experience and one of the best the league has to offer.

  4. Amalie Arena - Home of the Tampa Bay Lightning

    Along with building a new grand entrance to the facility, widening the entire 100-level concourse, building a Party Deck over looking the Tampa skyline, and a rebuilding of the box office, these renovations showed the commitment to the team and city from the new ownership the fans were looking for, and they responded exceptionally well. In the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Lightning, despite not being in contention for many of the 48 games, still drew over 99% capacity for the 24 home games, with most sold out. And with the fans around, the atmosphere is electric!

  5. Wells Fargo Center - Home of the Philadelphia Flyers

    Wells Fargo Center is an impressive arena. It is large, but has the intimacy of a much smaller venue. With fans that enthusiastically support their team, they also get to experience a venue that has a staff that welcomes and engages all fans.

  6. Scottrade Center - Home of the St. Louis Blues

    By delivering a successful on-ice product, there are higher expectations of the off-ice product, and the Blues have built a satisfying experience. The enjoyment of attending Blues games keeps getting better and better, and if you are fortunate to attend an NHL game in St. Louis, you will see just how rewarding it is.

  7. Madison Square Garden - Home of the New York Rangers

    The New York Rangers are an Original Six team with nearly 90 years of history behind them. Despite their relative lack of success with only four championships in that time, their true fans are passionate and interesting. Many are unhappy with the new Garden, partially due to the increased security and prices, but this doesn't mean you should avoid it. Simply be aware of the limitations when entering and exiting and budget accordingly for food and tickets and you will have an enjoyable evening at the Garden.

  8. Bell Centre - Home of the Montreal Canadiens

    No team in the NHL has enjoyed as much success as the Montréal Canadiens, and few cities embrace their team as much as Montréal does with their NHL franchise. Since moving from one of hockey's great temples, the Forum, the team has turned their new home into a palace of Canadiens' history. Watching a hockey game at the Bell Centre is a showcase of cultural heroes throughout hockey history, and is one of many highlights for visitors to the wonderful city of Montréal.

  9. United Center - Home of the Chicago Blackhawks

    It is truly a great time to be a Chicago Blackhawks fan. Likewise, any hockey fan should try to make a trip to the United Center, experience the anthem, and witness a game of a very proud franchise.

  10. Gila River Arena - Home of the Arizona Coyotes

    In the summer of 2013, new ownership was put in place for the Coyotes, striking a deal with the City of Glendale which would keep the club in Arizona for at least the next five years. At the start of the 2014-15 season, the team will be known as the Arizona Coyotes, and the rebranding inside the arena is already very apparent. As with any typical NHL game, there's music blasting during every stoppage of play, but the sound system in Jobing is really nice, which of course is part of it being one of the best concert venues in the country.

  11. Staples Center - Home of the Los Angeles Kings

    In a region that has an average annual temperature above 70 degrees, it would seem challenging to build a following for a sport played on ice. The fans and the city have however embraced their Kings and make the Staples Center an intimidating place for any opponent to play.

  12. First Niagara Center - Home of the Buffalo Sabres

    First Niagara Center has always been a good place to watch a hockey game, but the new development should finally give options within walking distance for pre and post-game as well. Seeing the Sabres in 2013-14 means putting up with a bit of construction dust, but the end result will be spectacular when it’s finished.

  13. SAP Center at San Jose - Home of the San Jose Sharks

    There are a few banners hanging from the rafters and a few traditions that the San Jose faithful have developed over the years that are uniquely their own. In their brief history, the Sharks have been to the Western Conference Finals three times, won a President's Trophy, and have had a decent amount of success.

  14. TD Garden - Home of the Boston Bruins

    Closing in on its 20th season as the home of one of the NHL’s Original 6 teams, the Garden remains a marquee venue in its own right, and can boast a Stanley Cup championship to go with the five won next door on Causeway Street.

  15. Bridgestone Arena - Home of the Nashville Predators

    Smashville is a great spot for an NHL game and the Predators are a great example of growing NHL market. The northeast no longer has a monopoly on great hockey experiences and Smashville is definitely a spot that should be on every hockey fan's wish list.

  16. Nationwide Arena - Home of the Columbus Blue Jackets

    Founded in 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets have taken their time to mature into a contender. As the lockout-shortened season of 2013 saw the team miss the playoffs by only one point, the 2013-14 season carried a renewed sense of hope along with a new set of circumstances as the team underwent its first campaign in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The home of the Blue Jackets, Nationwide Arena, has undergone a number of changes to keep up with what will hopefully be the start of a new era of on-ice success.

  17. American Airlines Center - Home of the Dallas Stars

    Located on the edge of downtown Dallas in Victory Park, the American Airlines Center (AAC) is home to the Dallas Stars as well as the defending 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. It opened in 2001 and still looks brand new, making it one of the better venues to watch a top-notch sporting event. From the outside, the stadium is very impressive. As you drive north on I-35E, the AAC majestically appears on your right. It could be an old train station or airport terminal, and with the naming rights purchased by American, the locals often refer to it as "The Hangar" because of its unique design.

  18. Consol Energy Center - Home of the Pittsburgh Penguins

    The Consol Energy Center is one of the NHL’s newest buildings, opening in 2010 across the street from the beloved old Igloo in the eastern part of downtown Pittsburgh. With over fifteen years of Sports and Entertainment Centers in other cities to inspire the architects, the Consol Energy Center feels like a building that represents a synthesis of modern arena design. It’s a cavernous palace of a building that dominates the city block on which it sits, clad in yellow brick and glass, and seems to be both the archetype and culmination of fifteen years of arena-building.

  19. Prudential Center - Home of the New Jersey Devils

    With the acrimonious departure of the New Jersey Nets for neighboring Brooklyn, and with the NFL’s Jets and Giants calling New Jersey home in fact but not in spirit, the New Jersey Devils are now the state’s only professional sports franchise that actually is proud to be from where they’re from. And the team certainly wants you to know it. “Jersey’s Team” banners greet you as you step out of Newark Penn Station or pull off the interstate.

  20. BB&T Center - Home of the Florida Panthers

    Getting great seats to see professional hockey is not that difficult in South Florida. Fans can come close to game time and buy seats near the glass from the box office. The fan is not to miss hard-hitting hockey action from any seat in the facility, but for those that are hardcore and want to sit near the glass and see all of the checks as they are about to be delivered, the BB&T Center in the place for you.

  21. PNC Arena - Home of the Carolina Hurricanes

    Raleigh-Durham has always been a college basketball hotbed first and foremost, with perennial powerhouses Duke and UNC only a short distance from each other in Durham and Chapel Hill, and the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh. Adding to hockey’s uphill battle to establish itself was the fact that the area had no NHL-sized arena in 1997, and so for the first two years of their existence, the Hurricanes were forced to play more than an hour’s drive to the west at the Greensboro Coliseum. Attendance started out low and got lower, and it seemed obvious to most observers that the team’s next move was just over the horizon.

  22. Pepsi Center - Home of the Colorado Avalanche

    Pepsi Center is one of a few shining stars of Denver's downtown, and its location in the center of the city places "The Can" within walking distance of up-scale shopping and dining in the 16th Street Mall, hundreds of bars and restaurants in LoDo, next door to Six Flags at Elitch Gardens and near the convention center and performing arts complex.

  23. Scotiabank Saddledome - Home of the Calgary Flames

    Whether it was seeing the Flames pull off the dramatic overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of the first round of the 1989 playoffs or hanging out with my friends in the nose bleed seats back when they used to play the Montreal Canadiens every New Year's Eve, it was always a great time. And although the Flames aren't quite the dynasty they used to be in the late 80s and early 90s, going to the Saddledome to take in a Flames game is still always a good time.

  24. Air Canada Centre - Home of the Toronto Maple Leafs

    It will be interesting to see if the experience at Air Canada Centre improves with the new management at MLSE and Tim Leiweke. Unfortunately, the fans that show up and how they act are not under the control of the Leafs and take so much of the experience away from the game. A trip to see the Leafs should be in the cards for every hardcore hockey fan, but if you are looking for that rambunctious hockey experience, head to one of the other Original Six markets.

  25. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - Home of the New York Islanders

    Certainly there is room for improvement, but it will come too late for the Islanders, who will move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season. This leaves you just one more season to make a visit before the arena is completely renovated. Although it is old, uncomfortable, and inconvenient, a trip to the Coliseum is a must for any NHL fan because it offers the best value in the league today; value that will probably disappear forever when the club leaves for the nattier neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2015.

  26. Rexall Place - Home of the Edmonton Oilers

    This place maintains an old-school feel without sacrificing the modern amenities. The location is certainly not the best, and there is work underway building a downtown arena to replace Rexall Place, so if you haven't been here yet, try to stop by soon.

  27. Rogers Arena - Home of the Vancouver Canucks

    Going to a Vancouver Canucks game is a thrill for fans of all ages, as well as fans of teams other than the hometown one. It's nice to have access to the highest level of hockey in North America, if you're willing to shell out the cash.

  28. Joe Louis Arena - Home of the Detroit Red Wings

    Today you will hear from many that believe that JLA needs to be replaced by a more modern facility. You’ll hear an opposition that feels like the classic arena needs to be protected and cherished. It is hard to read the tea leaves to see what the future may hold, but it seems like a new arena is imminent. In the meantime, there is little doubt that a trip to Joe Louis Arena is well worth it not just for hockey fans, but for sports fans in general.

  29. Canadian Tire Centre - Home of the Ottawa Senators

    There is no doubt that you will have a good time if you make the trip to see the Ottawa Senators. The members of Sens Army are friendly and knowledgeable and will add to your enjoyment. They will not blow you away with excitement, and that combined with the location of the arena, makes the Ottawa Senators a below average NHL experience.

  30. Honda Center - Home of the Anaheim Ducks

    Like any event near Disneyland, the atmosphere is more family-friendly than anything else. While the Walt Disney Company sold the franchise back in 2005, it has seemingly remained as fan-friendly as any professional sports team today. While this is great for mom and dad, it also seems to prevent a really great sports atmosphere. Regardless of the circumstance, there never really appears to be a game changing atmosphere.

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