Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newbie, there are lots of reasons to see an NHL game in person.
For one, no matter how big your screen or how ultra your high-def, you really can follow the puck better when you’re in the arena. You can isolate on your favourite player, see plays develop, getter a better sense of the speed and really feel the hits.
Then there’s the stadium experience. Several NHL rinks offer incredible fan experiences, and we've put together the list of the ones you can't miss!
Source: Montreal Gazette
Bell Centre (Montreal)
The Canadiens’ home pours hockey from its pores. If you want to feel the DNA of hockey, it’s here. The largest hockey arena in the world, it seats 21,288 — and the steep slope of the stands gives everyone great sightlines.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Rogers Place (Edmonton)
Source: ILEA Canada
This arena is amazing, just on an aesthetic basis. The Oilers’ home resembles a drop of oil with its curvilinear structure, which includes a pedestrian bridge and 25,000-square-foot atrium space. Plus, it has one of the biggest high-definition scoreboards in the NHL, sits in a cool downtown district, has a Gretzky statue and, well, Connor McDavid.
Little Caesars Arena (Detroit)
Source: Sports Illustrated
The NHL’s newest arena won the 2018 Sports Business Awards Sports Facility of the Year Award. It has amazing concourses and far too many amenities to list, but here are two: the lighting package projects 3-D images on the ice, and the ceiling is a huge, animated LED grid. Plus, it’s an Original Six franchise whose rich history is celebrated on the upper-level concourse’s Ring of Honor, featuring three touchscreen monitors.
United Center (Chicago)
The national anthem, wherein a big-voiced opera guy strains to be heard over the wildly cheering masses — the Blackhawks have led the league in attendance every season since 2008-09, averaging more butts than seats — is not to be missed. As impressive a collection of rafter banners as you’ll find anywhere in the league, even if a lot of them belong to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul)
Source: Xcel Energy Center
The organ is built into the shell of a Zamboni. The concourse displays the jerseys of every high school hockey team in the state of Minnesota. There’s a lighthouse that blares a foghorn after Wild goals. Just a great, hockey-first facility.
T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)
As neighborhoods go, Strip-adjacent T-Mobile might even beat Manhattan’s venerable Madison Square Garden. Inside, the home of the league’s newest team is miles beyond the league’s oldest venue. This season, to all the bells and whistles (and lasers and fog), they’ve added showgirls — er, the Vegas Belles. And since Vegas is a tourist town, there are always lots of fans of the visiting team.
Scotiabank Saddledome (Calgary)
Hockey isn’t baseball. Opened in 1983 and a venue for the ’88 Winter Olympics, the Flames’ home is the second-oldest in the NHL, and — after massive, antiseptic changes to Madison Square Garden — the closest thing the NHL has to Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. Since team ownership and the Calgary city council recently began a new round of negotiations for its replacement, there’s no telling how much longer fans will be able to enjoy a Pocket Dawg and a malt beneath its goofy, sloped roof.
Bell MTS Place (Winnipeg)
Source: Stadium Journey
The smallest arena in the league with a capacity of 15,321, the Jets’ home is always full and always loud. They’ve averaged 100 percent of capacity or better every season since 2011-12. Inside and outside the arena — “Whiteout” street parties drew national attention during last season’s playoff run — knowledgeable and vocal fans amp up the party.
PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh)
Source: Sporting News
Between this arena, PNC Park and Heinz Field, Pittsburgh has as good a collection of major sports venues as any city in North America. PPG is an arena, for aesthetics and atmosphere, that proved up to the daunting task of replacing the Penguins’ iconic Igloo.
Scotiabank Arena (Toronto)
Source: Source: TripAdvisor
A beautiful building in a lovely city that is also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame (a two-minute walk away). And there’s poutine.
The Final Analysis
Across the NHL, venues have largely kept pace with the technological and entertainment demands of today’s fans. Any arena in the league will likely open your eyes to the game in a way TV can’t. But remember to dress warm - your feet will still get cold!
Guest Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.
Looking at making your first NHL game a memorable one? Connect with local fans to experience a GameDay!- Find a GameDay
Think your favorite rink should top the list? Share your love for the NHL by hosting a GameDay with us!- Create a GameDay
At SportsHosts we love sharing our hosts and users experiences. If you have a great story, we’d love to hear from you.