Any true-blue sports fan would agree that very few things can match the thrill of watching a game live. This is why stadium owners do everything in their power to enhance the in-arena experience. Doing so ensures that fans enjoy every second. That being said, Business Insider ran a poll last October to find out which arenas in the NBA are the best. Here are the top 10:
10. TD Garden – Boston Celtics
TD Garden shares a history with the old Garden, what with all those championship banners and retired jerseys hanging from the rafters. But there’s more here than a shared history. It offers both comfort and convenience, plus arguably the league’s most gorgeous court, which is looking to host its next champion. Today’s Celtics, with a loaded lineup and a brilliant coach, have a legit shot at it, with bwin installing them as joint third favorites to win the NBA Championship along with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cs, however, are currently struggling, and seem to be hounded by in-game issues as reported by CBS Sports. It would be a shame if those issues unravel this team because they have the talent to add even more history to the new Garden’s already hollowed grounds.
9. Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland Cavaliers
The Q will sure miss LeBron James, who was the attraction of that venue. Yes, James is appointment viewing, especially in person, so that’s a big loss for Quicken Loans. On the bright side, The Q is conveniently located in downtown Cleveland, the views are still solid if not excellent, and the sound is exceptional. And now it gets to build its own post-LeBron legacy, which means fans might be in store for some surprises along the way.
8. American Airlines Center – Dallas Mavericks
Yes, American Airlines owns naming rights to two NBA stadiums, though this one somewhat trails the arena in Miami. The stadium in Dallas is nonetheless one of the NBA’s best in terms of in-game experience, with nonstop entertainment more than making up for the venue’s shortage of appealing aesthetics. The seats offer a great view of the action, which Mavs fans will likely enjoy even more moving forward, as their super rookie is set to team up with Kristaps Porzingis, the Unicorn himself, in what can potentially be a superstar pairing.
7. United Center – Chicago Bulls
As noted in a previous post, the United Center is the league’s largest venue — and for good reason. It was built at the height of Michael Jordan mania, and the man deserved no less than a colossal stadium. Now, the building isn’t exactly special in terms of aesthetics or amenities. In fact, it is neither a work of art nor state of the art. The stadium was built at a time when the goal was simply to build big. But United Center has a history that only two other venues — Staples and Madison Square Garden — can match, along with a starting lineup laser lightshow that’s the best in the league.
6. Madison Square Garden – New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden is the Mecca of Basketball. That’s all there is to say, really, even if the Knicks have been largely irrelevant these past few years. Like the Staples Center, The Garden attracts a slew of celebrities, which adds an element of thrill to any game-watching experience. Then there’s the center court, which is highlighted by theater lighting that adds flair and drama to the iconic hardwood.
5. Banker’s Life Fieldhouse – Indiana Pacers
Banker’s Life Fieldhouse is as modern a stadium as there is, yet its vibe is decidedly old-school. The atmosphere here is unlike any in the league, as it feels like being in a smaller, but infinitely more raucous, high school gym. Banker’s Life Fieldhouse has a fantastic atrium and a range of excellent restaurants. The facility is so good, in fact, that it has become a favorite among players. The tickets are reasonably priced as well, so that’s definitely a plus.
4. Staples Center – Los Angeles Lakes/Clippers
Ever since the Staples Center opened in 1999, it has been one of the premier venues in all of the NBA. It is a beautiful building, complete with 2,500 club seats, 160 luxury suites, and 15 event suites. The fact that it is often frequented by celebrities adds to its appeal, as fans can stargaze during in-game lulls. The Staple Center is teeming with history as well, thanks mainly to the Lakers, who have won five championships in this building. Expect it to rock and roll these next three seasons as the Lakers now have arguably the best basketball player in the world in LeBron James. As for the Clippers… Well, they do play at Staples. That’s a start.
3. American Airlines Arena – Miami Heat
Located along Biscayne Bay, the American Airlines Arena is home to one of the NBA’s most well-run and most valuable franchises: the Miami Heat. It is home to 2,105 club seats, 80 luxury suites, and 76 private boxes for those with deep pockets. The arena also has what is likely the most unique scoreboard in the NBA. Plus, it helps that Miami rolls out a consistently good, if not entertaining product, which are the Heat themselves.
2. FedEx Forum – Memphis Grizzlies
Probably the most surprising entry on this list is the Memphis Grizzlies’ FedEx Forum. It neither has the state-of-the-art sophistication of the Amway Arena nor the striking architecture of, say, the United Center (number 7 on the list). It doesn’t even have championship-caliber tenants as the Grizzlies are far removed from the Grit-n-Grind heydays of the Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen era. So, why does it rank this high? It’s likely due to the great court views fans have from every seat. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters when watching live sport. Right?
1. Amway Center — Orlando Magic
The fact that the Amway Center was voted number 1 may seem like a shock, but fans know better. Its location — right at the heart of downtown Orlando — is definitely a plus. Additionally, it is state of the art with the very best in sports stadium technology enhancing the fan experience. It also has numerous restaurants, luxury suites, and the league’s largest HD scoreboard. Small wonder why Magic fans still fill up the Amway Center even though the Magic haven’t been any good these past few seasons. Magic home games, based on data collected by ESPN, show an average attendance of 17,281 so far this season – good enough for 18th in the league.