Stadium Journey's 2023 Ranking of the NBA Arenas
The National Basketball Association's playoffs are underway, so we at Stadium Journey felt it was time to do what we do best - rank some arenas. While the winner of the Larry O'Brien Trophy will be determined on the court, there's no one way to rank the gyms that these teams play in. Here's our try at it.
To determine our rankings, Stadium Journey utilizes our patented FANFARE rating scale, which takes into account a venue's Food, Atmosphere, Neighborhood, Fan support, Access, Return on investment and a final Extras category. When two or more venues are tied, a Stadium Journey Council of Elders is consulted to break the tie.
We hope that this list produces some good-natured debate. After all, isn't that why we do these things? Feel free to share your opinions on Stadium Journey's social media pages.
Without further ado, we are proud to present Stadium Journey's rankings of all 30 National Basketball Association arenas for the 2022-23 season.
Brian O'Sullivan - Seeing a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden is a must for any basketball or sports fan in New York City. Although it comes at a substantial monetary cost, the memories that come with the experience are truly magical and will last a lifetime.
Dave Cottenie - WIth the Toronto Raptors continuing successfully on and off the court, it is obvious that the team has taken a big bite out of the entertainment dollar in Toronto. No longer can Toronto be simply viewed as a Maple Leafs town. WeTheNorth has blown the doors open and it is clear that the Raptors are here to stay as a force in the Toronto sports market.
Pete Dowell - What makes the time you will spend at Wells Fargo Center amazing is the fans. The 76ers fans love to band together show the 76ers love just as much as they love to give the opposing team a hard time. Trust the Process and enjoy your time at Wells Fargo Center.
Lloyd Brown - The renovations at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse have all been directed towards improving the fan experience, as the seating bowl and playing court remained the same throughout the latest changes. If you have not been to a Cavaliers game or the former Quicken Loans Arena recently, you need to come and check out all the changes.
Chris Green - The Orlando Magic may have fallen on some hard times recently in terms of their record, but Amway Center remains one of the best around. The facility is stunning, clean, and always comfortable; the surrounding neighborhood means you have plenty to see and do before and after the game; and getting to the arena is a breeze.
Lloyd Brown - Regardless of the name of the building, the facility is one of the most unique arenas in the NBA, both architecturally and in its promotion of the local team’s brand. It embraces the Latin heritage found in the Miami area, both through its concessions program and the music played during lulls in the action.
Lloyd Brown - The Utah Jazz are living proof that a small market can be competitive in the NBA. Through stable ownership that always puts its fans first, the franchise has been one of the most successful both on and off the court. The recent renovation of the Vivint Smart Home Arena has created an even tighter bond between the fans and their team.
Lloyd Brown - One of the premiere franchises in the NBA now has a home to match up with its elite status. The Chase Center boasts an unbeatable view of San Francisco Bay, cutting-edge technology, and a food and beverage menu featuring the best the City by the Bay has to offer.
Lloyd Brown - Even though the Moda Center is one of the older arenas in the NBA, it offers one of the most entertaining venues to watch a game. The fact that basketball is the primary professional sport in town, added to the raucous atmosphere of the fans provides a great viewing experience.
Matt Finnegan - Jokic alone is worth the cost of a ticket. He fills a box score like Oscar Robertson and passes like Jason Kidd. He and Murray front a team that should contend for an NBA title. Yet the costs of watching the Nuggets at Ball Arena do not require a complex financial transaction. It’s a decent bargain for an exceptional experience.
Lloyd Brown - Large venues can do lots of harm to the environment through heavy car emissions, trash, and heavy use of carbon-producing gases. Golden 1 Center is a winner in minimizing these harmful issues and should be a blueprint for future athletic facilities. Winning off the court can be just as important as winning on the court as far as our environment.
Paul Baker - Boston may not be thought of as a basketball hotbed in some circles, but the combination of a team contending for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a rabid fanbase, an outstanding gameday atmosphere, unmatched history, and tradition makes “The Gahden” one of the must-see venues in the league.
Marc Viquez - The arena no longer feels like a basketball fieldhouse, but more of an entertainment venue that will appeal to different events. It is understandable, but this is what made the fieldhouse stand out among others in the league. However, once you sit in your seats, you will have plenty of new and familiar options to enjoy a game.
Eric Moreno - It still feels special to take in a game at the Barn. For the history alone, I think any sports fan should take in a Spurs game – the atmosphere is great, the arena still sparkles, and one day the Spurs will rise again.
Michael Davis - American Airlines Center is one of the finest sports venues in America and is in a great city. AAC is immaculate, the amenities are first-class, and the experience overall is one of the best in the NBA.
Dave Cottenie - Oklahoma City is probably not the first destination thought of about professional sports. However, the Thunder have proven that despite being in the smallest NBA market, they can play with the big boys and belong in the league. A trip to see the Thunder is well worth the trip and the city of Oklahoma City is an underrated destination city.
Paul Baker - It’s tough sledding when you’re the third tenant in a facility. Even though the Clippers are finally achieving some success and are gaining a foothold in the crowded Los Angeles basketball market, the Staples Center does not feel like home to this star-crossed franchise.
David Welch - Taking in a Hawks game at State Farm Arena is an overall fun experience. Whether a fan of the Hawks or just a fan of NBA basketball, the Hawks organization puts a lot of effort into visiting one of the best in the NBA. From the pregame lights and flames during player introductions, to the in-game entertainment and variety of food and drinks at affordable prices, the experience of a Hawks game at State Farm Arena is without a doubt high quality.
Lloyd Brown - A trip to the newly renovated Footprint Center provides a much-improved fan experience for the Suns faithful. They can relax in the new seats that have been installed while keeping up with the game stats via the new video board and end zone displays. The one thing that remains the same is the antics of the Sun's Gorilla, one of the NBA’s top mascots.
Marc Viquez - The Fiserv Forum is an architectural beauty and offers everything a fan would want in an NBA area. The concourses are spacious, the food is varied, the views are open, and the service is top-notch. When you add the Deer District and Third Street as nearby destination options before the game, the Bucks fans have one hell of a place to enjoy their team. It is a beautiful place for a basketball game.
Marc Viquez - The United Center has enough of what you need for an enjoyable evening of professional basketball. The history of the Bulls is on display all over the building, the social areas are great for spending time away from the game, and there is always an energetic crowd to liven up the mood of the building.
Lloyd Brown - The Staples Center continues to serve as the premiere indoor sports facility in the Los Angeles area. Its mix of teams touches upon almost every demographic in a city known for being very diverse. Its location across the street from the LA Live music, restaurant, and entertainment district makes it a very attractive place for a night on the town for your family and friends.
Sean MacDonald - With the Islanders disaster finally behind it, Barclays Center can return to being a basketball venue. Barclays Center has embraced a black and grey color scheme, which works well with the Nets, who use those as their primary colors. They have also embraced their Brooklyn home, and much of the game day presentation is used to strengthen the bond between the borough and the team.
Dave Cottenie - Although The Palace of Auburn Hills was a solid home for the Detroit Pistons, the lure of a brand new arena in a new era of Detroit ownership cooperation was too much for the Pistons to pass up. Overall the move to Little Caesars Arena is a positive one for the Pistons and will be a great home for the team for years to come. For those who long for the Palace, fear not, there is much the same at LCA and it is still Deee-trout Bas-ket-ball!
Lloyd Brown - The Smoothie King Center does not have the level of amenities found in the more recently constructed arenas around the league. The concourses are very narrow compared to most arenas and the low ceilings give the area a very cramped feeling. Inside the seating bowl, there is a noticeable lack of electronics, as the video board is rather small and is supplemented by four small message boards in each corner of the playing area.
Lloyd Brown - The Toyota Center creates a great atmosphere even before you enter the building. Before weekend contests, the arena hosts Bud Light Liftoff parties on the plaza. This includes musical entertainment, food and beverage booths, interactive games, face painting, and autograph sessions with former Rocket players. Once inside the facility, you will see that it offers Texas-sized amenities.
Gregory Koch - Although the Wizards had high hopes when they moved downtown in 1997 into a shiny new arena, the experience has proven to be less than promised. Although a Wizards game is more affordable than it would be to see the Capitals at the same arena, you ultimately get what you pay for. The atmosphere in the arena is pretty dead and it is an average NBA arena at best.
Lloyd Brown - The Fed Ex Forum does a great job of saluting the musical heritage of the city of Memphis and the great basketball teams of the city’s past. The concourses are very witty in working in musical references to some of the city’s blues legends, while also featuring photos of some of the top basketball talent to pass through the city.
Lloyd Brown - The recent renovations at the Target Center have vastly improved the fan experience for the Timberwolves faithful. New gathering areas, opening the building to more outside light, and the improved electronic package in the seating bowl area are major improvements.
There will be a wide variety of entertainment to enjoy in the downtown area when you visit Spectrum Center. It is not a stretch to say that what makes a Hornets game at Spectrum Center truly worth it is all the things that Uptown provides a fan before and after a game.