The Best & Worst NHL Arenas / Fans [POLL]
The NHL Playoffs are in full force. Back and forth games, overtimes, fights, you name it — this year’s playoffs have been high intensity from the start. Almost every arena featured in these playoffs has ridiculous amounts of energy. The crowds are always electric; it’s awesome seeing how much passion each city has for their respective teams. Check out the list of the best and worst places to watch a live NHL game below then vote in our poll at the bottom of the post.
5. Florida Panthers, BankAtlantic Center
The Panthers have been struggling in recent years, but it doesn’t help that hockey has a very weak following in the southern region of the country. They don’t even fill the arena to 80% capacity on average and with only 15,000 people showing up every night, it doesn’t make for an exciting environment. If you’re in Florida I doubt your first thoughts are to go see a Panthers game. Believe me, bypass it and just hit up the beach.
4. Nashville Predators, Bridgestone Arena
This is just unacceptable having a playoff team on this list. The Predators were a solid team from start to finish this year but for whatever reason they were still averaging under 15,000 fans per night. If you have a playoff team in your city and you can’t support them with near sellouts every night, something just isn’t right. The crowds did pick up during their playoff games this year, but the Nashville natives gotta step up their attendance next season because they shouldn’t be on this list.
3. New York Islanders, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
The Islanders have it tough. They are one of three teams in the greater New York area and are clearly the third wheel behind the Devils and the Rangers. They really haven’t been relevant in the past 5+ years and don’t really give the fans a reason to come out. So, they don’t; there are fewer than 13,000 people showing up to Islander games and you can’t really blame them. It feels like they are in a constant rebuilding state. It doesn’t help that their arena is arguably the worst in the league. With so much going on in the New York area, the Islanders are going to need to make some changes before they see any sort of home ice advantage.
2. Atlanta Thrashers, Philips Arena
You could see this one coming from a mile away. Why would the NHL expand to Atlanta? It just makes no sense. It isn’t a good hockey market and it already had three other professional teams (Falcons, Braves, Hawks) that have total support in the city. Philips Arena averaged only 73% capacity on any given night with just over 13,000 fans coming out to watch the team. When you watch a Thrashers game on TV, you see empty seats all throughout the lower bowl and feel no excitement or enthusiasm. If it’s that bad on TV, why would you want to spend money to go see a boring team in a boring arenas?
1. Phoenix Coyotes, Jobing.com Arena
No, that is not a typo. The Coyotes actually play in a building called Jobing.com Arena. If you aren’t already convinced it’s an awful place to watch a game, read on. They average fewer than 12,000 fans a game. Again, not a typo. A professional team is averaging under 12,000 fans per game. It has gotten pretty bad in Phoenix and the team is now under NHL control after going bankrupt in 2009.
What is the most pathetic about this is that the Coyotes have been a playoff team the past two seasons! They bring a decent product to the ice, but have no enthusiasm in the arena during the season. You can’t tell me that fans aren’t coming out for financial reasons. How many rich people retire and move to Phoenix? Those people can all afford to go to some hockey games. Phoenix natives, do yourself a favor, get out of the heat for a few hours, go watch a good hockey team and support them before they move out of town.
5. Buffalo Sabres, HSBC Arena
Say what you want about the city of Buffalo and their beloved Sabres, but when HSBC Arena gets rocking few places in the NHL rival it. There has been some bad luck for the team in its history and for the city but it has never stopped the fans from supporting the team. Season tickets are totally sold out for the team and excitement has never been higher amongst Sabres fans after Terry Pegula purchased the team in February. Things are looking up in Buffalo and if you ever find yourself in Western New York, try to get to a game; you won’t regret it.
4. Philadelphia Flyers, Wells Fargo Center
Even if you don’t support the city of brotherly love and their views about sports, one thing anyone can see is how much they love the Flyers. The arena is at capacity on a nightly basis and as everyone knows, the fans are on the rowdy side. This intensity leads to a rowdy environment. Whether it’s the first game of the season or game seven of a playoff series, the Wells Fargo Center is going to be bumping. Even when the Flyers were the worst team in the NHL in 2005-06, they still were packing the arena. That is saying something. Definitely get to a game at the Wells Fargo Center, but make sure you are not wearing the other teams colors. Believe me, because I found that out the hard way.
3. Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena
They don’t call Detroit “Hockey Town” for nothing. Joe Louis Arena may not be the fanciest arena in the league but it makes for a hell of a place to watch a hockey game. There haven’t been luxurious upgrades or fancy scoreboards installed, but the fan support there is unmatched. In a struggling city, it is remarkable they still fill the arena like they do. Don’t forget to bring an octopus with you if you catch a game there so you can partake in the famed tradition of throwing the creatures on the ice.
2. Chicago Blackhawks, United Center
The Blackhawks are lucky to have the largest arena in the NHL with a capacity of over 21,000, but the Blackhawk faithful are some of the loudest, most passionate fans in the league. Their capacity percentage last year was actually over 108% from standing room tickets. Yep, you read that right 108% of seats were filled in the United Center. Makes for a wild environment. They have a great young team and won the Stanley Cup last year with an incredible playoff run. If you are in Chicago during hockey season, make sure you head to the “Madhouse on Madison” to experience one of the most exciting venues in the NHL.
1. Montreal Canadiens, Bell Centre
You just cannot find a more passionate group of fans in the NHL than those that faithfully pack the Bell Centre night in and night out. Hockey is second to none in Canada and it is clear that is no exception in the city of Montreal. They averaged 100% capacity and with over 21,000 seats have one of the biggest arenas in the league. All of this adds up to quite an environment to watch a game. The sea of red shirts and sweaters is intimidating for fans and players on opposing teams. It might even be worth the trip to Montreal just to experience the passion this arena exudes. Be sure to wear red because the Habs are not friendly to opposing fans, and enjoy some delicious Canadian beer while you’re watching a great game in the best place to watch an NHL game live.
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