Stadium Journey's 2023 Ranking of the NHL Arenas
The Stanley Cup 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 Cup will be determined on the ice, there's no one way to rank the rinks that these teams play in. Here's our try at it. The results can be as unpredictable as the action on the ice.
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 32 National Hockey League arenas for the 2022-23 season.
David Welch - When Nashville was first awarded an NHL franchise in 1997, many did not think hockey in the state, better known for its allegiance to the University of Tennessee and ‘Rocky Top’ would work. Nothing could be further from the truth; not only has hockey worked in Nashville, but it has also thrived.
Chris Green - The Tampa Bay Lightning have broken all expectations for a Florida hockey franchise, and their game-day experience has become one of the best in the league. From the spotless interior of the venue to the bounty of food options, there is plenty to love at Amalie Arena. Your dollar goes far thanks to the excitement on the ice, and there are no bad seats in the house.
Richard Smith - The pre-game video show is quite impressive. For 2023 the show begins with mascot "Slapshot' stealing the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives in a nod to the movie National Treasure. The show concludes that he brings it back to the arena and letters from the document become re-arranged to display "Let's Go Caps!"
Lloyd Brown - The Climate Pledge Arena is much more than just the newest rink in the NHL. It is an experiment in using the most current “smart” technologies to minimize (hopefully to zero) the carbon footprint the facility leaves after each event it hosts. Hopefully, Climate Pledge Arena will usher in a new generation of sports facilities built not just to create a wow factor, but also one where the environment receives major consideration.
Jim Flannery - Rogers Place is a worthwhile place to visit even if you’re not there for a hockey game. There is so much to see and do in and around the building without ever walking through the gates that you could spend a couple of hours just checking the place out. This is continuing to get better as more features get added. Once you’re through the gates, this is a beautiful building with truly state-of-the-art features that should impress almost everyone.
Lloyd Brown - A visit to the Windy City and a Chicago Blackhawk game will provide you with a very enjoyable sports adventure. Seeing an Original Six team play is always on an NHL bucket list and the United Center is a very impressive place to take in a game. Afterward, you’ve got an enormous number of fine restaurants to choose from and Chicago offers numerous attractions to visit over a long sports weekend.
Dave Cottenie - Without a doubt, a trip to Centre Bell to see the Montréal Canadiens needs to be near the top of any hockey bucket list. Although the arena itself is not earth-shattering, the Canadiens put on a terrific product, even when the team is down. The fans add to the dynamic more than any other fanbase in the NHL. Finally, a trip to see the Habs is as much a trip through hockey history as any experience there is.
Patricia Beninato - There seems to be an article in Pittsburgh media every week about plans to develop the area around PPG to entice people to hang around. Still, government vs. development is a long-time battle that doesn’t look to be won by anyone any time soon. Because Pittsburgh’s downtown is so compact, though, it’s an easy walk to the Strip District a few blocks away, where there’s something for every taste.
Greg Venuto - Madison Square Garden is special, from the lobby at Chase Square to the exhibits which commemorate special events. The inside features the iconic ceiling with a cable-supported roof. The 28’ x 57’ scoreboard (which displays the names and numbers of all skaters on the ice throughout the game) over center ice is riveting and then your eyes are drawn to the Chase Bridges which cross the ice at the top of both sides of the upper bowl.
Greg Venuto - Nationwide Arena is a beautiful and fan-friendly arena to watch an NHL game. Despite being over 20 years old, it seems new and up-to-date. It is worth a visit if in town and the benefits are reasonable prices and plenty to do just outside its doors.
Ken Thorp - The UBS is a decent venue. They have enough bells and whistles to provide an adequate game day experience. They have a ridiculous amount of food choices as well as concession stands. They work extremely hard to keep the fans engaged in the game.
Dave Cottenie - There is no doubt that a trip to see the Toronto Maple Leafs should be on every hockey fan’s bucket list. Couple that with the opportunity to take in the Hockey Hall of Fame and all of the other things that Toronto has to offer and the Leafs can be the center of an excellent getaway. Time will tell to see if the Leafs can move through the playoffs further than previous years and grab that elusive 12th Stanley Cup banner.
Lloyd Brown - St. Louis has always been a great sports town, with good teams and classy fans. The renovations at the Enterprise Center have brought the fan experience to new heights, with the Stanley Cup Championship win of 2019 being the cherry on top. If you enjoy good food, great beer, and terrific hockey, head on out to the Gateway City. You won’t be disappointed!
Lloyd Brown - Overall, the Xcel Energy Center may be aging a bit, but it’s still one of the best places you can go to see a professional hockey game, let alone a sporting event. Friendly fans, good food, and very easy access make this arena second to none.
Paul Baker - The 2022-2023 season has been an incredible ride for the Boston Bruins and their fans. The team has set NHL records for victories and points in a season. As the playoffs approach, New England sets its collective sights on the ultimate prize in hockey – The Stanley Cup. The entire region is hoping for another long playoff run in one of the more underrated venues in the league, the TD Garden.
Lloyd Brown - The Pepsi Center continues to be the premiere venue in the Rocky Mountain region for indoor professional sports. It provides more than 200 nights of sports competitions and concerts per year for the residents of the Mile High City.
Paul Baker - As the Kings look to rebuild after a solid decade near the top of the National Hockey League, some of the enthusiasm that was present at the Staples Center has disappeared. While southern California’s sunny skies and warm winter temperatures may not scream hockey to a northerner, the Staples Center remains a great venue for professional hockey.
Steven Kee - The Prudential Center is a stunning facility, offering almost everything the hockey fan could ask for in the 21st century. The arena is accessible via mass transit, close to great restaurants, and provides a variety of services and features throughout the game. With the Devils playing winning hockey, the experience will only improve at “The Rock.”
Chris Green - All-in-all, FLA Live Arena is family-friendly and provides a quaint atmosphere. The last few seasons are proving that this quaint atmosphere can also swell into a roaring crowd, thanks to successful records. In addition, a better game day experience has led to a more welcoming environment. The Panthers are definitely on the upswing, and a visit to FLA Live Arena will certainly reflect that trend.
Lloyd Brown - The Vegas Golden Knights have “broken the ice” as the first professional sports team to set up shop in Las Vegas. Early indications are that the team will prove the criticism that Vegas is not a “hockey town” wrong. The city has sold out several games in its inaugural season, and the team’s performance on the ice is far above what is expected of an expansion team.
Robbie Raskin - KeyBank Center is a solid place to catch a hockey game in one of the best American hockey markets. Sabres fans are welcoming and friendly, the arena is comfortable and has been updated pretty well over the years. Unfortunately, the attendance has followed the Sabres’ on-ice performance after being pummelled by border closures. The experience at KeyBank Center will surely rise a couple of notches when the fans come back to a winning team.
Lloyd Brown - In Canada, ice hockey reigns supreme, and Vancouver was the first Canadian city on the West Coast to receive an NHL franchise. This has led to a long history of sellouts throughout the club’s 50-year existence. Packed stands lead to a great environment in the seating bowl. The seating areas fill early as the crowds do not want to miss even the warmups.
Paul Baker - While hockey may not be the first thing on your mind as you wander around southern California during a warm winter day, a trip to the Honda Center provides a mighty good experience for any fan, whether you are coming from the frigid north or not.
Will Halpern - The Hurricanes are back to relevancy in NC and the NHL and there is a renewed energy around the franchise, which is evident at PNC Arena during games. Now the team has a chance to host their first outdoor game next season as part of The Stadium Series, and the Hurricanes and their fans show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Steven Kee - The Wells Fargo Arena was state-of-the-art and similar to other designs that opened up during the early to mid-1990s. The parent company of the Flyers, Comcast Spectacor, completed close to $265 million in renovations to update and enhance the game day experience at the venue. The renovations resulted in the world’s first Kinetic 4K center-hung scoreboard; it also features two independent crown trusses that move vertically and are equipped with pyrotechnic capabilities.
Jim Flannery - Action at the Saddledome has created some fantastic memories over the years. 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 the run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004, tens of thousands of fans have had amazing experiences in this location.
Lloyd Brown - Winnipeg has been given a second chance with an NHL franchise and there is no chance of the fans allowing the team to move elsewhere again. They fill the Canada Life Centre for every game, cheering loudly for the local boys while organizing chants to disrupt the visiting team’s concentration. The whole town turns out in its blue-best when the Jets are in town. Winnipeg is one of the more isolated of the NHL outposts, but it is well worth a visit as you check the rinks and arenas in the central portion of Canada.
Michael Davis - American Airlines Center is one of the finest sports venues in America, located in a great city and home to a hockey organization that seems committed to being in Dallas for a long time. The only thing American Airlines Center needs to be rated in the upper tier of NHL venues is for the Stars to become more competitive regularly. However, a visit to American Airlines Center to watch the Stars play is a wonderful way to spend an evening in Dallas.
Dave Cottenie - The San Jose Sharks are a great experience for all NHL fans. Their influence throughout the 90s is undeniable and they have had great influence in opening up the southern belt to NHL hockey. A trip to the Shark Tank will be a memorable one for hockey fans everywhere.
Meg Minard - Affectionately known as Hockeytown, Detroit is a unique market in the United States where a pretty substantial argument can be made that it is a hockey-first market. While Little Caesars Arena is a great improvement over the old Joe Louis Arena, it is too dark, too steep, too loud, and way too expensive for the average ‘Joe.’
Dave Cottenie - It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Ottawa Senators and their much-maligned building in Kanata. It must be said, however, that regardless of the situation with the Canadian Tire Centre, the Ottawa Senators are still an NHL experience and fans will still have a great time during the game. Proper research and preparation can overcome some of the Capital City issues, but reinvigorating the fanbase with a new, exciting, better-located venue can’t be a bad thing.
Sean MacDonald - Overall, Mullett Arena provides a unique Big 4 experience that should attract fans who want something out of the ordinary. Yes, it is expensive, much like an exclusive club, but with only 123 regular season games played over the three seasons, attendance will be limited to 565,800 fans. If you want to be one of them, now is the time to travel to Tempe and visit the Mullett.