Facilities: New fall looks
Unlike its counterparts at MLB, MLS, the NBA and NFL, last season the NHL actually saw attendance rise year-over-year, increasing 3.5% to more than 22 million. In an effort to grow those numbers further and to better serve the fans who show up, this season a number of NHL franchises are showing off renovations of their arenas or new fan experiences, ranging from new scoreboards and revamped premium and social seating options to full-on rebuilds.
New Arena at Seattle Center
■ WHAT’S NEW: Both the team and the arena it will play in are unnamed and under construction, but both will be ready to go by the time the NHL’s 32nd franchise drops the puck on its inaugural season in the fall of 2021. The New Arena at Seattle Center, a $900 million, privately financed project led by Oak View Group, keeps the roof of the old venue, which was first constructed in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair. The Populous-designed arena will have a 17,300-person capacity for NHL games, 18,400 for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and future NBA games, and between 15,500 and 18,800 for concerts.
■ WHAT’S NEW: This summer the St. Louis Blues completed the third and final phase of a $150 million upgrade of the Enterprise Center, which included replacing all of the arena’s escalators. The Blues received up to $70 million in subsidies — spread over two decades — this summer from the Missouri legislature for the arena’s renovation.
Highlights include the Rinkside Club, which features all-inclusive food and drink offerings and beverages from a premium open bar; the Jameson Club at Clark Avenue, an upscale sports lounge connected to a club seating area which offers all-inclusive upscale food, beer and wine; and the Bommarito Automotive Group Lounge, a premium space with two private seating options, a full open premium bar and in-seat wait service.
■ WHAT’S NEW: TD Garden’s owner and operator, Delaware North, is in the middle of a $100 million upgrade of the 23-year-old venue. When completed, the two-year project will add 50,000 square feet of space on all levels of the facility.
The work includes concourse expansions, improved seating in the arena’s lower bowl, a new entrance and Boston Garden Society, which is a premium membership-based seating option that offers fans the chance to bypass turnstiles and get exclusive access to premium spaces through the first smart technology elevator system in an arena setting.
In November, Bruins fans will have two new seating options. They can purchase flexible memberships to Boston Garden Society’s newest level of entertainment, Rafters, which is a party deck on the top floor (level 9) of the arena and features 400 cantilever seats against the backdrop of the Boston Bruins and Celtics’ championship banners. And on level 8, the new Back Row Bar will offer 57 fixed barstool seats overlooking the arena. A custom bar, made from parquet flooring, is 102 feet long and crafted from the center ice red line and two blue lines from the old dasherboards that surrounded the Boston Bruins ice.
Delaware North’s partners on the project include: Gensler, John Moriarty Associates, Stadium Consultants International, Gilbane, LeMessurier, Consulting Engineering Services/CES, SBLD Studio and Wasserstrom.
■ WHAT’S NEW: The Nashville Predators spent $8 million over the summer renovating Bridgestone Arena, including installing a new scoreboard and constructing a “super suite.” The additions are a continuation of the team’s $80 million revamp of the venue, which opened in 1996.
The new FangVision scoreboard is nearly 300% larger and has a 450% higher resolution than its predecessor. The upgraded scoreboard features underbelly boards that provide enhanced views of in-game statistics and replays for players, coaches and fans in the arena’s first 10 to 20 rows. The team also upgraded the LED lighting system in the lower bowl. Hap & Harry’s Tap Room is a new suite that accommodates groups of up to 50 people at hockey games and concerts. The “super suite” offers a full-service bar, all-inclusive food and beverage, in-seat wait service and VIP parking.
Wells Fargo Center
■ WHAT’S NEW: Comcast Spectacor’s $250 million renovation of the Wells Fargo Center, home to the Philadelphia Flyers, started in 2017 and continued this past summer with the installation of the world’s first kinetic 4K center-hung scoreboard, which can move and transform, and the construction of new premium and social spaces. The ice-level Center City Club holds up to 1,000 fans, giving them all-inclusive food and beverage options and 700 total square feet of LED screens.
The Assembly Room, a part of the Wells Fargo Center’s New City Terrace, is a communal, standing-room-only ticket option spanning half of the top level of the arena. The open social space features two eateries, three bars, two functioning fireplaces, game action screens, communal dining and seating space, and two interactive step-in murals for “Instagrammable” moments with friends.