Las Vegas Arena Opening And Lessons For UK Rinks

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inside T Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Spring is in the air and the NHL playoffs and the world championships are upon us. Also its baseball season and I have to admit I do love american ballparks. They are an homage to design with no two ball parks in the major league a like. In my view it is unique in the world of professional sports to have so many different looking and unique features from each others. Whether it is cafes, open concourses, ivy walls, trains, fountains, rockeries, bars, balconies or big green walls MLB ballparks have the lot and their approach to the fans puts hockey to shame.

RMondIce

Richmond Ice Hockey

This week though the T-Mobile Arena opened in Las Vegas and it could be a game changer. It is where the NHL hopes a new franchise will be playing in 2017. Amongst the usual features there are the hospitality boxes and suits there are clubs open for the general public including one high above the arena bowl with balconies looking out over ice from which fans can stand and have a drink. Outside too the arena offers a park with bars and cafes for the fans pre and post game. Detroit’s new arena is also planning similar fan based areas in its new arena.

These are however still lacking behind the MLB and many hockey arena’s do feel very samey. In the old days rinks had organs, weird clocks at centre ice and ornate decor but modern venues have replaced these with more seats and advertising hoardings.

In the UK we may not be on the same scale as the NHL and MLB in terms of our facilities but we do have a similar problem. Our old rinks were ornate and featured decorative brickwork. Streatham ice rink even resembled its cousin Maple Leaf Garden and Richmond’s former ice rink too resembled one of original skating rinks in Montreal. Today though our rinks are all a bit similar.

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Streatham Ice Rink

Cardiff’s brand new Ice Arena Wales may feature a great new scoreboard and two ice pads but it is a bit similar to Ice Sheffield. Nottingham and Sheffield Arena’s are also a bit similar. Belfast’s Odyssey arena with its ‘bridge’ does offer something a bit different.

Thankfully we do have our long standing rinks in Fife and Edinburgh that still offer something of the old days. Their balconies, their design details and intricate build work are something modern design can not offer. I hope when new rinks open in the future, in Manchester and Dublin perhaps, these remember the fan areas and offer something of the old days in their design to let fans engage with the rink more. I do hope they do leave the poor sightlines, narrow aisles and no leg room in the past though.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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