The Best And Worst NHL Arenas (According To Yelp)

A few days ago, I found myself reading Ranking Baseball’s Best Ballparks. It seemed simple enough. Nate Silver gathered the reviews for the 30 MLB ballparks from, figured out the average score for each, and ranked them. “Gee,” I said to myself, “someone should do the same thing for NHL arenas! Wouldn’t that be fun to see?” So, I decided to give it a shot myself.

I soon figured out why this might be a bad idea.

Unlike the ballparks, which have “dozens if not hundreds of ratings” from fans, the NHL arenas have a more disparate number of ratings — from a measly 7 reviews (a dubious distinction shared by Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators, and HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres) to a whopping 449 reviews (Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Kings). I made sure to include the number of votes received for each venue on the chart below.

Not only was that a problem, but most of these arenas are homes to other teams, and they hold other events such as concerts. So, all of these reviews were not reflective of the experience one would have as a hockey fan — again, unlike the ballparks, which are primarily used as, well, baseball fields.

We won’t even get into Yelp’s reputation of fudging reviews just a teensy bit.

Therefore, I’m the first person to admit that this is not the most scientific way of ranking the 30 NHL arenas. Until I can get paid to visit all 30 arenas and rank them myself, however, this is about as good as it will get.

I also included the standard deviation for each arena (an idea I also borrowed from the original article). A higher number means that the fans’ rankings are spread out farther, which means more disagreement.

After the jump, check out the rankings, as well as my thoughts on them.


The highest-ranked arena is also the newest — CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh (4.53 stars out of 5). It is followed by Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center (4.375 stars), Montreal’s Bell Centre (4.35), Tampa Bay’s St. Pete Times Forum (4.29) and Los Angeles’ Staples Center (4.21).

The lowest-ranked arena is the Islanders’ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which brings up the rear with 2.42 stars out of 5. Rounding out the bottom five are Edmonton’s Rexall Place (3.07), Colorado’s Pepsi Center (3.63), Washington’s Verizon Center (3.65), and Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena (3.667).

Nassau Coliseum’s days might soon be numbered, if the taxpayers of Nassau County vote on August 1 for a $400 million plan to build a new arena. (However, it also has one of the largest standard deviations. All of the five-star reviews come from proud Islanders fans.) Rexall Place, too, is on its way to being replaced; the Oilers and the city of Edmonton have already set a finance plan for a new arena.

By the way, Rexall Place is the only arena that has not received one five-star review — in contrast, Nassau Coliseum received four.

Three of the five bottom arenas are amongst the oldest in the league (the oldest is Madison Square Garden, which was built in 1968 and is ranked 15th). The Pepsi Center and the Verizon Center, on the other hand, were both built during the “arena boom” of the late 90s (thirteen of the arenas were built between 1996 and 1999). Why, then, are they ranked so low? It seems as if they both have the same problem — the reviewers feel as if they’re nothing special. As one reviewer of the Pepsi Center remarked, it’s “pretty average.” Most reviews of the Verizon Center give a similar impression.

Looking at the standard deviation, people either love or hate Joe Louis Arena. While it received 14 five-star reviews out of 36, it also received 14 reviews ranked three stars or below. While most fans are fond of the nostalgia factor, some fans are calling for a renovation or even a new arena altogether.

Of course, for me, the only arena that matters is the United Center, which ranks at a lowly 21. Complaints include the lack of leg room/space between seats (true), the price of concessions for the quality received (also true), and the fact that it’s difficult to get to via CTA or car (yep). The one complaint that kept popping up to my amusement? No cup holders. Yes, at the United Center, you are expected to hold your drink or risk it being kicked over if you dare place it on the floor. Maybe they should consider putting in cup holders to move up the ranks a bit?

Special thanks to Katie for putting together the chart template used.

Kat Velez is the senior Chicago Blackhawks reporter at Runs On Duncan. You can also find her on Twitter at, strangely enough, @RunsOnDuncan.

8 thoughts on “The Best And Worst NHL Arenas (According To Yelp)

  1. [...] The Best And Worst NHL Arenas (According To Yelp) Filed Under: Car Ratings, Cars by admin — Leave a comment June 3, 2011 The best and the worst (Photos: Doug Butchy/flickr, Doug Kerr/flickr) A few days ago, I found myself reading Ranking Baseball’s Best Ballparks. It seemed simple enough. Originally posted here: The Best And Worst NHL Arenas (According To Yelp) [...]

  2. Amanda Getz says:

    You know the only reason CONSOL is ranked so high is because everyone in Pittsburgh would think ANYTHING’s a palace after The Igloo. ;)

    As the Flyers Writer, I’m also biased and refuse to believe anything in Pittsburgh is better than Philly.

    1. Kat Velez says:

      As the Flyers Writer, I’m also biased and refuse to believe anything in Pittsburgh is better than Philly.

      You would.

      But there might be some truth to what you’re saying — if the Penguins were still playing in the Igloo, they’d be ranked below JLA.

  3. Nassau Coliseum was sh*tty twenty years ago. I’m surprised it was rated higher than a one. ;)

    1. Amanda Getz says:

      Oh the Mausoleum.

      MSG really is awful too. It’s ugly and dirty on the inside, cramped, and the lighting is terrible.

      I haven’t spent enough time in the WFC to really know what it’s like,but I miss the hell out of the Spectrum. :(

    2. Kat Velez says:

      The ranking would’ve been even lower if those four Islanders fans didn’t give it five stars solely because it’s the home of the Islanders.

      Let’s be honest — it’s a hole, and the sooner it’s gone, the better.

  4. sconnors37 says:

    Gotta disagree with the low ranking for the Phonebooth. Of all the arenas I’ve been to, it’s one of the most accessible – it’s like right across the street from a hub Metro station. The concessions are excellent (specifically, the beer selection), the area is safe, and the atmosphere is great. No way should it be ranked lower than the JLA.

  5. [...] places players enjoy playing. That fact may be more due to the atmosphere than the arena itself, as fans have rated the Arena the 5th worst in the [...]

Leave a Reply