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  • Greg Venuto

Ball Arena – Colorado Avalanche


Photos by Greg Venuto, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Ball Arena 1000 Chopper Circle Denver, CO 80204


Year Opened: 1999 Capacity: 18,130


 

Ball Arena Is The Home Of Champions

Ball Arena, formerly the Pepsi Center, has seen its basketball and hockey teams win championships over the last two years.  Most recently the Denver Nuggets won their first NBA championship over the Miami Heat in June of 2023.  In June of 2022, the Colorado Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup in six games over the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Both the Avalanche, who play in the NHL's Central Division and the Nuggets are contenders once again.


Ball Arena has been the home for winter professional sports in the Denver area since 1999. It serves the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League.  The arena features 95 suites and 1,900 club seats. Empower Field at Mile High (home of the Broncos) is just a 15-minute walk across the parking lots.


The building, which hosts over 250 events a year, is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment was started in 1999 by businessman Stan Kroenke to be the parent company of his sports holdings. Kroenke also owns the Nuggets and So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles. A facelift has been planned for the arena and also the surrounding neighborhoods.


Among the changes planned are new premium seating tiers, including “enhanced general seating” and a more expensive ledge seat in the first row of the upper bowl. The goal is to turn the area into green spaces with better infrastructure and upgraded housing and tourism venues. The ambitious project could take 25 years to complete.


The Avalanche began their existence as the Quebec Nordiques, one of the few teams to make the move from the WHL to the NHL. After the 1995 season, the team was sold to a new ownership group and relocated to Denver, where the team was renamed the Avalanche. The newly relocated team got off to a rousing start, as it won the Stanley Cup in its first season in its new home. The Avalanche have won three Stanley Cups, three Conference Championships, and nine Division Championships.


Before the 2013 - 14 season, the octagonal scoreboard that was in use since the arena's opening was replaced with a new four-sided rectangular scoreboard. The two center faces measure 27 by 48 feet long, while the two end faces measure 21 by 25 feet wide.


The Avs honor their elite players from the past with banners hanging from the ceiling. The names include Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, and Milan Hejduk. Bourque, Roy, Sakic, and Forsberg are also members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition, the Avalanche have banners hung for each of their division, conference, and Stanley Cup seasons. 


Food & Beverage 3

Food and Beverage was one of the more disappointing aspects of Ball.  The choices seemed fairly generic and there was not enough local Denver fare.  In the upper bowl, lines were often long for food and bathrooms and there did not seem to be enough carts. 


The width of the concourses hindered some of the opportunities for better options. Ball Arena is heavy on alcohol but lacking in food choices.  Premium cocktails are $17 for a single and $22.50 for a double. Lemonade is $6.50 and water is $5.50.  The southwest wrap is $14 and a garden salad is $12.50 and a basic dog is $6.50.


Atmosphere 4

The main entrance to the stadium is off 9th Street and there are two more entrances off 11th Street (one is only for access to the Lexus Club).  The gates open only one hour before events. Ball does employ the latest technology as nothing has to be removed from pockets as fans rapidly pass through the detectors. Once inside the main entrance, there is a small lobby area with a team store to the left and escalators straight ahead which lead up to the lower seating area.


The Arena was lively for the pregame warmup with the only complaint being the music was a bit too loud.  The noise level was not as onerous in the upper bowl.  The Avalanche have an organ but during the game, it is rarely utilized. The Avalanche does not employ many special effects or music to ignite the crowd.  A nice touch was the fan's use of their cellphone flashlights to illuminate the arena just before the teams hit the ice for each period.


Neighborhood 3

There is nothing wrong with the neighborhood but not without a plethora of things to do nearby as the arena is surrounded by parking lots.  The Larimer Square area (on the National Register of Historic Places) is a 12-minute walk and probably the best spot to pregame with some bars and restaurants.  Union Station, with Amtrak and trains arriving from Denver Airport, is about a 15-minute walk and also offers restaurants and hotel options.  The light rail E and W lines depart from there and are just two stops away.


Fans 4

The supportive crowd is enhanced by the mascot, Bernie (St. Bernard), and he is assisted by the Skyline Drumline from behind the goal the Avalanche defend twice and lead the "Let Go Avs" chants. The Avalanche sell out Ball every night.  Average attendance is 18,098 up a tick from 17,991 last season. The official Avalanche team store is Altitude Athletics with one location right at the main entrance.  The main store, Chopper Circle on the South side, is open Monday-Saturday 12-5 pm. There are five locations in total inside the building.


Access 4

Parking is not an issue with 10 lots surrounding the stadium.  Parking prices range from $25-$35.


Access by car is doable. From the North - Take I-25 South, exit Speer Boulevard; proceed South and turn right on Chopper Circle From the South - Take I-25 North, exit Auraria Parkway, Ball Arena will be on the left-hand side of Auraria Parkway. The Ball Arena (Elitch Gardens stop) is served by the E & W light rail lines.


The MallRide provides a free shuttle service on the 16th Street Mall. The Mall extends approximately two miles and accesses both northbound and southbound light rail service at Union Station and the 16th Street Mall. Due to the ongoing reconstruction of the 16th Street Mall, MallRide vehicles are currently operating on 15th and 17th Streets.


Denver is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Ball Arena has bike racks immediately outside of the arena. Fans wishing to rent a bike will find a B-Station located a block south of the arena. Rideshare drop-off and pick-up are available along Auraria Parkway between 9th and 11th Street only.


Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices run the gamut from $39 for the last few rows in the upper bowl behind the goals to $209 at the center ice lower bowl before fees for a weeknight game.


In 2022, the Avalanche ($390.74) was on the better end of the Fan Cost Index as only 10 teams were less expensive. Fan Cost Index comprises the price based on four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking, two game programs, and two least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.  


In the upper bowl, one negative is the view of center ice on both sides from the sections between the blue lines is obstructed by a glass partition and railing that hinders rows 6 and 7.


Extras 3

There are some interesting pieces of art inside the Ball Arena.  There are several statues and 3-D visuals on the west concourse. The Grand Atrium is home to a large aerial sculpture depicting hockey and basketball players. The team also has some of the most impressive graphic projections on the ice during the pregame introductions.


The rafters are an impressive sight with 3 Stanley Cup Banners, 3 for Conference Championships, 3 for earning the President’s Trophy, and 12 for Division Championships. 


A Kids Zone behind section 375 offers youngsters the opportunity to test their skills on one of many hockey and basketball simulators.


Final Thoughts

Ball Arena is a great place to visit while in Denver to take in a hockey game.  The fans are enthusiastic and the team is usually at the top of the standings.  With the proper upgrades, the building can be more fan-friendly but the trade-off will be an increase in prices.


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Follow Greg Venuto’s stadium journeys on Twitter @VenutoGreg and Facebook.

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