10 Best Arenas in the NHL

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent ISeptember 10, 2012

10 Best Arenas in the NHL

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    Watching hockey is more enjoyable sitting in the stands at your favorite NHL team's arena than watching the game on television.

    Teams that make a strong effort to enhance a fan's enjoyment of the game create a much better overall product that fans will want to spend money to experience.

    However, it's also important for an arena to have character, and since many new stadiums have been built since 1990, few NHL arenas have a lot of character.

    Let's look at the 10 best NHL arenas.

10. Saddledome, Calgary Flames

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    From an architectural standpoint, few arenas around the league can compare to the Saddledome. The unique shape of the arena makes it very noticeable from afar, but once inside, the energy present at each Flames game is just extraordinary.

    With a capacity of over 19,000 for hockey, the Saddledome is one of the most raucous arenas in the league. The rich history of the Flames is also noticeable in many places inside the arena.

    The Saddledome is one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, but there are few places in the league where you can enjoy a more exciting atmosphere.

9. Nationwide Arena, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    One of the best parts about the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise is the beautiful, modern arena that they play in. The arena is also well-maintained, very clean and offers plenty of food choices for fans.

    Whether you are a diehard fan or bringing your family to enjoy a game, you won't be disappointed with your game-day experience at Nationwide.

    It's too bad that the Blue Jackets repeatedly finish near the bottom of the league standings each season because they have one of the finest arenas in the country.

    If the 2013 All-Star Game isn't cancelled because of a lockout this season, the league will experience what a great venue Nationwide Arena is in February.

8. TD Garden, Boston Bruins

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    TD Garden is a fantastic place to watch a hockey game because there isn't a bad seat in the house, and the passion of Bruins fans makes for a great experience.

    There's plenty of concession options available on the concourses, and the lines aren't too bad either. The Legends Club is one of the finest ways to watch a game in a luxurious atmosphere with five-star food and drink.

    With multiple train lines inside and around the building, TD Garden is very easy to get to. It's also close to the historic North End of Boston. The surrounding area is full of great bars and hotels.

7. United Center, Chicago Blackhawks

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    The United Center is a fantastic place to watch a hockey game. It is one of the largest arenas in the league, which helped the Chicago Blackhawks rank No. 1 in total attendance last season, and second in attendance percentage.

    The tradition and history of the franchise is easy to see throughout the building, especially in the rafters where many championship and retired number banners hang.

    The United Center is also easy to get to, and when the Blackhawks are one of the elite teams in the NHL, there are few better places in the league to watch a game. There's a reason why its called the "Madhouse on Madison."

6. Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota Wild

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    The Xcel Energy in Minnesota is another modern arena that is absolutely beautiful inside and outside. It's also one of the most fan-friendly venues in hockey.

    From a technological standpoint, the Xcel Energy Center is one of the best in the league. The jumbotron is huge, and the sound system helps provide an exciting experience for the fans.

    The arena also hosts music concerts, as well as different high school and college sports, making it one of the most complete sports venues in the country.

    The concourse is large and has a great variety of food options. The Xcel Energy Center is a great place to enjoy a game and experience the rich hockey history of Minnesota.

    With Zach Parise and Ryan Suter joining the Wild this summer, the Xcel Energy Center could be in store for its most amazing NHL season in its history.

5. Air Canada Centre, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The home of the Toronto Maple Leafs is the Air Canada Centre, and although the building hasn't witnessed many winning seasons, it does showcase the franchise's rich history very well.

    The Hockey Hall of Fame is within walking distance of the ACC, which means hockey fans can enjoy a day at the HOF, then enjoy a Leafs game at night.

    The atmosphere at a Leafs game is top-notch. Toronto has the best fans in hockey, and they add another level of excitement to each game.

    The arena has plenty of fun activities for kids and has plenty of concession options no matter what kind of food you prefer. The building is also easily accessible by car or subway.

    The ticket and concession prices are high, but the ACC is a first-class NHL arena that is well-maintained, and home to one of the league's most prestigious franchises.

    If you're traveling to Toronto and like hockey, check out a Leafs game at the ACC, it's almost impossible to not have a good time.

4. Joe Louis Arena, Detroit Red Wings

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    Joe Louis Arena is one of the most historic venues in NHL history. It is almost a museum of hockey history because of all the Stanley Cup banners and retired numbers of many NHL legends hanging in the rafters.

    What the building lacks in modern conveniences, it makes up for in rich history, and fantastic energy at each game.

    The concourse isn't great, and the building as a whole looks and feels old, but it has tremendous character.

    There aren't many venues in the NHL that are filled with more passionate fans than Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

    The throwing of an octopus onto the ice during Red Wings games is also one of hockey's oldest and coolest traditions.

    As a player, Joe Louis Arena is one of the best places to play hockey.

3. Madison Square Garden, New York Rangers

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    Madison Square Garden, nicknamed "The World's Most Famous Arena," is one place that every hockey fan should watch a game at before he/she dies.

    Not every seat has a great view of the ice, but the huge capacity and passionate fans make for an amazing experience, which increases when the Rangers score, and one of the best goal horns/songs in the league begins.

    The arena is also easy to get to, whether you arrive by bus, car, subway or walk from a nearby hotel. With the Rangers currently being one of the top teams in the league, now is a perfect time to travel to New York and experience an NHL game at Madison Square Garden.

    It's also the oldest building in the NHL, but it has gotten a bit nicer in recent years thanks to some renovations.

2. Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    The Consol Energy Center, the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is a state-of-the-art NHL arena that has set the bar high for teams looking to build a new stadium in the future.

    With many suites, boxes and restaurants throughout the building, you can watch a hockey game while enjoying some great food and drink with family and friends.

    One aspect of the arena that cannot be overlooked is the fact that there is no bad seat. The view of the ice is fantastic from every angle, and with over 18,000 seats, the atmosphere is amazing as well. The arena is also easy to get to by train or from the nearby interstates.

    There is not a nicer arena in the NHL.

1. Bell Centre, Montreal Canadiens

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    The Bell Centre has an electric atmosphere and is home to the most historic teams in sports history, the Montreal Canadiens.

    You haven't seen passionate fans until you attend a game at the Bell Centre. The in-game experience is fantastic thanks to the huge scoreboard and thunderous sound system. The Bell Centre is also the biggest arena in the NHL, with a capacity of over 21,000 for hockey games.

    It's located in downtown Montreal, which means there are plenty of nearby restaurants to enjoy before the games and hotels to stay at.

    The arena is also a cathedral of hockey history, with 24 Stanley Cup banners and tons of retired numbers hanging from the rafters.

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