This Old House? A Look At The Aging Of NHL Arenas

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.

AGE FACILITY OPENED NHL TEAM
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

Related Reading:
Report On Saddledome Roof Shows Concrete Crumbling

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to This Old House? A Look At The Aging Of NHL Arenas

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good piece. New arena boom in 5 years.

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

    The current location is so ideal, considering transportation, central to population, etc. It will be interesting to see how they eventually handle a new building. Relocated for two years, demo/rebuild at current site, might be the best option.

    • novafyre says:

      Ted has done upgrades. So not all of the arena is 25 years old. I think that is important. If the facility can easily be regularly updated/upgraded, it should have a longer lifespan (retooling instead of rebuilding to steal from another article).

      To me, if the current arena can be upgraded in place, the two reasons for a move are to find a different neighborhood (as Snyder is doing for the WTF) or to expand beyond its current available footprint.

      As you say Jon, I don’t think Ted can find a better location. I do not believe going to the suburbs would help the arena (Caps, Wizards, and other events). He might benefit from more seats but 18,000 is a good number. More seats farther away might not be good sells — especially after Ovi retires. Might benefit from more concessions but could he buy some real estate adjoining the Wallet and not have to either demolish it or move?

      Lightning’s Amalie is older and I have not read any article indicating that anyone is thinking of replacing it or moving it. That neighborhood has been and is and will be moving from vacant parking lots to offices, USF School of Medicine, apartments and condos and if they were going to make any major change I think it would have already appeared in their master plans.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it’s important to differentiate between fan-facing elements, and the building itself. Ted has done a great job keeping the place fresh (new seats, new video displays, etc). It’s the building elements that age out.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    I like the idea of demo and rebuild. It truly is a great location and that area has been built around the arena. But not sure where they would play in the interim.

    Maybe they can buy land in NW and build there. Or maybe near Nats park but i wouldn’t like that as much.

  4. Norm Stewart says:

    I’ve forgotten what their lease arrangement is.
    It’s hard to believe they couldn’t renovate the current building a lot cheaper that building a new one. There have already been some significant modernizations done.
    I also can’t imagine another location.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t they just do a refurbish? It’s hard to keep up. New seats went in 5 years ago? Anyway, at some point they can’t keep refurbishing.

    • DWGie26 says:

      Yeah, it doesn’t feel that old to me. Part of it is the game day experience is still really strong. Easily accessible (unlike FedEx). Sports book, new food options. Seats are fine. But didn’t realize Jon’s point of lease being up. I’m sure that can be extended. I can’t imagine they want to make a major change like that in the Ovi years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lease is not up for 5 years, but as article states, that about the time it takes to get something done, whatever that may be.

  5. Harrison says:

    GREAT piece. I was just thinking about this recently and you answered my questions or helped me realize that nobody knows. The nobody knows is obviously a big ? in all of this. I’m most interested in where they play while the new arena is being built. I’d have to assume that the Wizards would relocate to the same place. Or would they?

    Regardless, we can all agree that the new arena has to be IN the city, correct? None of this MD or VA mess, right?

  6. Anonymous says:

    redevelop RFK to be the new Caps/Wizards home arena! would be so much better than having the WFT go there (not that they are going to…)

  7. Anna says:

    Well, part of it for me is whether or not Daisy can maintain safety standards. Last time we went up there we almost got run over by an ATV. I lived in DC for a long time and it’s become really uncomfortable for me to visit that area recently. Additionally, I don’t enjoy the fact that I have to walk around in plumes of marijuana smoke as I’m trying to get into the arena with my really small child. So, arguably it might be better to relocate to a more family friendly area.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Once the FBI relocated and the current monstrosity of a building taken down it would be a perfect spot to drop a new arena.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.