Are the Washington Capitals in need of a new home? Not a new city, but a new building?
Not surprisingly, answering that question is extremely complex and multifaceted, as the pertinent factors in determining the appropriate service life of an arena are seemingly endless. However, we can begin to draw data from past experiences to get a better grasp of where things currently sit.
Looking back, the Capitals previous home at the Capital Centre opened in 1973 and closed in 1999. That’s a service life of 26 years, and as you will see, very typical for buildings of this nature.
But before we focus on the Capitals, let’s get a sense of where the league sits with regards to overall age of arenas.
AGE OF CURRENT NHL ARENAS
The following table lists the age of the arenas for all 32 NHL teams, including the Arizona Coyotes, who will be moving into a new, but temporary facility, starting this season.
|54||Madison Square Garden||1968||New York Rangers|
|39||Scotiabank Saddle Dome||1983||Calgary Flames|
|29||Honda Center||1993||Anaheim Ducks|
|29||SAP Center||1993||San Jose Sharks|
|28||Enterprise Center||1994||St. Louis Blues|
|28||United Center||1994||Chicago Blackhawks|
|27||Rogers Arena||1995||Vancouver Canucks|
|27||TD Garden||1995||Boston Bruins|
|26||Amalie Arena||1996||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|26||Bell Centre||1996||Montreal Canadiens|
|26||Bridgestone Arena||1996||Nashville Predators|
|26||Canadian Tyre Centre||1996||Ottawa Senators|
|26||KeyBank Arena||1996||Buffalo Sabres|
|26||Wells Fargo Center||1996||Philadelphia Flyers|
|25||Capital One Arena||1997||Washington Capitals|
|24||FLA Live Arena||1998||Florida Panthers|
|23||Scotiabank Arena||1999||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|23||Pepsi Center||1999||Colorado Avalanche|
|23||PNC Arena||1999||Carolina Hurricanes|
|23||Crypto.com Arena||1999||Los Angeles Kings|
|22||Nationwide Arena||2000||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|22||Xcel Energy Center||2000||Minnesota Wild|
|21||American Airlines Center||2001||Dallas Stars|
|18||Bell MTS Place||2004||Winnipeg Jets|
|15||Prudential Center||2007||New Jersey Devils|
|12||PPG Paints Arena||2010||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|6||Rogers’ Place||2016||Edmonton Oilers|
|6||T-Mobile Arena||2016||Vegas Golden Knights|
|5||Little Caesars Arena||2017||Detroit Red Wings|
|1||Climate Pledge Arena||2021||Seattle Kraken|
|1||USB Arena||2021||New York Islanders|
|0||Mullet Arena||2022||Arizona Coyotes|
The league’s current slate of arenas experienced two significant building booms in the 1990’s – 1996 (6) and 1999 (4), which is key a factor, as this will also likely signal another similar boom in the coming years.
That’s because nearly half of the NHL’s current arenas are approaching their intended design life. 20 of the current 32 arenas were built before the year 2000 (over 20 years ago) with an average age of the league’s arena’s sitting around 21.5 years (that includes a 0 forArizona). Only nine arenas are less than 20 years old.
Life Span Of NHL Arenas
So what is the typical lifespan of an NHL arena you ask?
Life-span estimates for arenas take into account past building life spans as well as the service life of general components of an arena. This includes the life span of building materials (plumbing, pipes, cabling, insulation, steel, etc.), building systems (ice-making system, HVAC, lighting, public address system, etc.) and all other components contained within a sports arena. Once the replacement costs for all materials exceed 50% of the value of the facility, it’s time to move on.
As a result, planning and design guidelines and facilities estimation resources state that 25-35 years is the best range for a “design life” of an arena, with 30-year bonds being the most typical funding source.
There’s A “Red’ House Over Yonder
Capital One Arena is the 15th oldest arena in the NHL at 25 years of age. That’s not bad, but it does signal that the end-of-life for the facility is approaching. Planning, permitting, design and construction for a facility such as an NHL arena typically runs anywhere from 3-5 years, so decisions regarding replacement need to be in the works if a new facility is to open in 2027.
That’s because it’s been reported that Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s lease for the current arena will expire in 2027. That would be ideal timing for a new arena to be planned, designed and constructed, IF planning has already begun. It’s likely that it has.
By Jon Sorensen
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