Stadium Journey's 2023 Ranking of the American Hockey League Rinks
The American Hockey League, now in its 86th season, continues to operate as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League. With teams in cities from coast to coast, the league features the best of small towns and large cities across the continent.
Stadium Journey has endeavored to visit every team in the circuit to evaluate the game day experience with our patented FANFARE rating system. This metric takes into account a venue's food and beverage options, atmosphere, surrounding neighborhood, fan support, accessibility, value and more. We have been able to visit 29 of the 32 AHL arenas (our apologies to Abbotsford, Calgary and San Jose - we plan to visit your facilities as soon as we can).
The Calder Cup is still to be handed out, but we at Stadium Journey have already crowned our 2023 champion. Feel free to engage in some healthy debate on our social media pages.
Since we love to rank things here at Stadium Journey (and judging by our page views, you love to read ranking lists), we now present our ranking of the arenas of the American Hockey League
Richard Smith - Giant Center is frankly one of the best sporting venues around. It takes the best looks and atmospheric elements of the past and adds the modern amenities expected by today’s audiences. This arena is a must-visit for any sports fan.
Robbie Raskin - Though its history as a hockey arena is relatively short, Coca-Cola Coliseum has grown into that role in style. Now into its second century, the historic venue is one of the best and most modern small arenas in the world – it just happens to be a century old at the same time. The Coliseum is a must for stadium enthusiasts, history buffs, and indeed hockey fans, and is poised to continue that role for the next century and beyond.
Steve Ohnsman - This is a great minor league hockey venue! Hockey fans might consider getting tickets for a weekend of fun: they offer a number of Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday games on the schedule, so fans could stay downtown do it up right! Even casual fans will enjoy a match and families are very well served.
Meg Minard - I always forget how fantastically fun it is to go to an Eagles game, regardless of league. One gets so caught up in the passion of the fans and fans who don’t normally chant and cheer will find themselves doing just that at an Eagles game. Bring cowbells!
Meg Minard - Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial in Rochester, NY is just about the perfect place to watch minor league hockey. It’s got a great fan base, superb ushers and staff, good hockey, lots of banners, and a memorial to our war veterans.
Jordan Falconer - The atmosphere at MTS Centre during a Moose game is family friendly. Parents should feel comfortable bringing their kids to the MTS Centre to see the Moose play. The Moose cater to families and provide enough entertainment to occupy the little ones’ attention.
Eric Hasman - In an era of disposable stadiums and frequent tear-downs, the UW – Milwaukee Panthers Arena is a great example of successful historical preservation. It is not only surviving but thriving, as it is in use nearly every day of the week by a different sports franchise. Even though the arena is not the most luxurious, it is a good place to see a game and is worth the trip.
Paul Baker - You would think that sharing your home with a major league basketball team would be a less than ideal situation for a minor league hockey team. This hardly seems to be the case in Cleveland, where the Monsters are regularly among the American Hockey League’s leaders in attendance. While Quicken Loans Arena is clearly too big for the Monsters, the melding of major league amenities with minor league enthusiasm makes a trip to downtown Cleveland a trip worth taking.
Paul Baker - Providence and the Amica Mutual Pavilion are often mentioned among the top American Hockey League travel destinations. The combination of a modern arena, frenzied fan support, and a fantastic downtown area makes The AMP a first-rate destination. With the number and quality of hockey venues in and around Rhode Island, this is a Stadium Journey worth taking by any hockey fan.
James Hilchen - Wells Fargo Arena is a great venue for hockey. The organization cares about the fans, the price of attending a game is very reasonable, and downtown Des Moines has something for everyone. The AHL provides some quality hockey and taking in a game in Des Moines is a fun experience.
Paul Baker - The Aud is packed to the rafters on most nights and the small barn echoes with chants of “UTICA! UTICA! UTICA!” throughout the game. Capacity crowds create a great deal of noise and a significant home-ice advantage night in and night out.
Drew Cieszynski - While Bakersfield continues to grow, the Condors remain one of the top entertainment options in central California. For a very reasonable price, you can check out the Condors and even the Division I basketball Cal State Bakersfield in the same day.
Eric Hasman - The fans who attend are really into the game. This is a major plus since the place is so small you are very close to the action and there is no bad seat in the arena. The main level open end seating area has a bunch of sit-down tables and stand-up bar tables. My only beef with this area is if you are not right against the railing, you cannot see all of the ice.
Paul Baker - The PPL Center, while striving for major league feel and amenities, falls short on many basic fan comforts. While the food selection and amenities here are among the best in minor league hockey, the cramped seating area, concourses and rest rooms are major drawbacks. Is the final result worth the cost? We’ll let you decide.
Meg Minard - The Toyota Arena has quite a sleek looking exterior with tall glass atrium entrances with the rest of exterior dark grey on the bottom, beige on top. Palm trees line the front and east sides. As nice and bright and beautiful as the exterior is, the interior is unexpectedly dark; both the concourse and the seating area.
Meg Minard - Visiting Tucson, AZ and watching an AHL Roadrunners game is an enjoyable experience and one worth checking out. It’s quite a nice facility in which to watch a hockey game.
Lloyd Brown - The Dollar Loan Center differs from most athletic venues in that it has adopted a specific theme that is carried out in the names of its various amenities and also in the outfits worn by facility staff. It becomes readily apparent that the parent club Las Vegas Golden Knights are behind the decision to adopt a Modern Medieval theme for the Silver Knights new home.
Meg Minard - The team began operation in 2015 after relocating from Norfolk, VA. It is the sixth hockey team to play at the arena, the fifth with the name ‘Gulls.’ The hockey team’s parent club is the nearby NHL Anaheim Ducks, roughly an hour and a half drive between the two. This close distance allows player call ups/downs relatively easy for the teams and players.
Dave Cottenie - As one of the newest AHL franchises, the Laval Rocket are establishing their niche in the Montréal sports market. Place Bell is shiny and new and central to the Laval community and fans will enjoy a trip to see some hockey there.
Meg Minard - The Coachella Valley Firebirds are a brand-new member of the AHL (American Hockey League), beginning play in the fall of 2022. They are an affiliate of the NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. Coachella Valley, also known as Greater Palm Springs, is in the gorgeous south central part of California.
Paul Baker - As a minor league hockey facility, the XL Center is a good place to catch a game, with excellent sight lines and plenty going on to satisfy both the casual and diehard fan. Unfortunately, the XL Center is just too big, too empty and too old for the Wolf Pack. Face it, Hartford, the Whalers aren’t coming back. Start running with the Pack!
Paul Baker - Thanks to the success of the baby Pens, northeastern Pennsylvania has become Penguins country even though it is located closer to Philadelphia and New York. The arena may not pack in the fans like it used to, and may not stack up when compared to other nearby minor league arenas but it remains a solid place to take in a game.
Matt Fiedler - Hockey has been in Springfield for a long time. Minor league hockey has been in Springfield since 1926 when the Springfield Indians came to be. The team has changed names from the Indians to the Kings to the Falcons to the Thunderbirds. What hasn’t changed is the passion that fans have in Springfield for hockey. Western Mass is filled with hockey fanatics.
Eric Moreno - I’ve been to several events at H-E-B Center, including several Stars games, and I have enjoyed myself every time. This is a great venue, especially for hockey. There is no such thing as a bad sightline here and it still feels new, somehow, even though it is now over 10 years old.
Dave Cottenie - The return of hockey to Belleville was absolutely necessary. What the future holds for the Senators will be interesting. The residents of Belleville need to fully embrace the Senators and AHL and get out to the arena to make the Senators at CAA Arena an even better experience. When near Belleville, it is a great plan to check out the CAA Arena and the Belleville Senators.
Eric Hasman - Allstate Arena, formerly known as the “Rosemont Horizon,” was built for DePaul University basketball but is now a multi-purpose arena. In 1999 it was renamed the Allstate Arena after extensive interior and exterior renovations. Many championship banners and retired numbers hang in the rafters for the Chicago Wolves. The Chicago Wolves have called the Allstate Arena home since 1994
Paul Baker - As a hockey venue, the War Memorial does nothing that will blow you away. It is infinitely more interesting as a memorial and as one of the locations in the iconic movie Slap Shot. For hockey fans who have an interest in our nation’s history, the War Memorial is worth a visit.
Paul Baker - With both the team and the arena rebranding recently, one would be tempted to think that big changes are afoot in Bridgeport. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The only real changes have been to the jersey crest and the name on the marquee. Total Mortgage Arena remains a nice place to catch quality minor league hockey, with small crowds taking in the action. The more things change in Bridgeport, the more they stay the same.
Jared Goodman - The Charlotte Checkers, both the team and the folks behind-the-scenes, have created a phenomenal game day experience for hockey fans deep in football and NASCAR country. They’ve worked diligently to promote the sport throughout the region and have succeeded in piquing the interest of both die-hard and non-hockey fans alike.