Nearly a decade has passed since the Penguins played their final game at Mellon Arena, and fans who attended games there seem to have a panoply of memories, positive and otherwise, about the place.
Similarly, reporters who cover the NHL have varying opinions about the venues in which they've worked, which prompted me to consider the arenas I have -- and have not -- enjoyed visiting, and to compile lists of both.
The lists are limited to buildings that no longer are home to an NHL team -- and, in many cases, no longer exist -- and include only those that were in service during the 1983-84 season, my first covering the Penguins and the NHL, or later. The means the likes of Detroit's Olympia and the Stampede Corral in Calgary were not eligible for inclusion.
For both the favorite and least-favorite arenas, the ratings were completely subjective. They are based on the game-day atmosphere, in general, and work conditions for print reporters in those venues. Along with anything else I cared to factor in, since they're my lists.
The 10 least favorite are:
10. CAPITAL CENTRE
Most striking feature: The saddle-shaped roof, maybe?
Redeeming quality: Ample parking.
On the list because: The playing surface was well-lighted, but the seating area -- including the press box, which was atop one end zone -- was so dark that bats would have had a hard time finding their way around.
Most striking feature: The larger-than-life statue celebrating a fictional character, Rocky Balboa.
Redeeming quality: Team locker rooms were conveniently located on either side of the media work room.
On the list because: The press box, situated at the top of the lower bowl, was exceptionally cramped and the crowds were at least as abusive as their contemporaries at Wells Fargo Center.
8. JOE LOUIS ARENA (Detroit)
Most striking feature: The lists of Red Wings Cup winners, NHL award recipients and other achievers painted on walls at ice level.
Redeeming quality: Location fairly close to freeways made postgame fleeing easy.
On the list because: The press box location seemed like an afterthought -- a fan once reached up from his seat and stole a scorebook from my work area while I was in the locker room -- and the building seemed to show its age faster than most.
7. CIVIC CENTER
Most striking feature: It was part of a shopping mall.
Redeeming quality: Great place to go to a hockey game, if you also were shopping for a cookbook, quilt or candle.
On the list because: It had all the atmosphere you'd expect from a hockey rink in a shopping mall.
6. AMERICA WEST ARENA
Most striking feature: The place -- most notably, the seating configuration -- was designed for basketball, not hockey.
Redeeming quality: Chances were good you wouldn't get rained on walking from the parking lot to the rink.
On the list because: The reality that hockey was an afterthought in the arena showed in every conceivable way.
5. BRENDAN BYRNE ARENA
East Rutherford, N.J.
Most striking feature: The maze of roads surrounding the building, which would have stretched to the moon and back seven times if laid out in a straight line.
Redeeming quality: The press box was located at center ice, perhaps 20 rows of seats from the playing surface.
On the list because: A venue in one of the most densely populated regions of the country managed to feel like it was in the middle of nowhere. Or, more to the point, on the outer edge of nowhere.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Most striking feature: Who ever heard of an arena with a round roof? ... Oh yeah, right.
Redeeming quality: Cool name.
On the list because: Whoever determined that a hockey team should play in a venue built for baseball shouldn't be allowed to decide anything more important than what to have for lunch.
3. COW PALACE
Daly City, Calif.
Most striking feature: The visiting team had to walk down a flight of steps to get from its locker room to the ice.
Redeeming quality: San Francisco was a short drive away.
On the list because: The lingering scent of livestock-related events held there wasn't the thing that stunk about the place.
2. CIVIC CENTRE
Most striking feature: One side of the arena was built under/into the grandstand of the adjacent Landsdowne Park stadium.
Redeeming quality: Seating capacity of around 10,000 made it a good spot for those with a fear of crowds.
On the list because: Nothing about the place was up to NHL standards, from the caliber of the home team to the barstools in the press box.
1. MIAMI ARENA
Most striking feature: The neighborhood surrounding the arena was so dangerous that security staffers discouraged reporters from waiting outside for cabs when they were done working.
Redeeming quality: I'll get back to you when one comes to mind.
On the list because: You never could be completely confident that all of those rats being chucked toward the ice in the 1990s were plastic.
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