Earlier this week, we brought you the results of a study that ranked UBS Arena the worst for fan experience in the NHL. That study had little to do with what happens once you enter a venue and the game gets started. The criteria included external restaurants, parking accessibility, and the price per ounce for beer.
It's not that those things aren't important, they're just not as important as the things that make a home rink special, plus the organization is taking steps to rectify them (at least restaurants and parking; beer, we expect, will remain very expensive).
28-year-old Boston hockey fan Tyler Hopkins visited all 32 NHL arenas in just 63 days this season to find out which team has the best fan experience in the NHL. Hopkins chronicled all of his visits on his Instagram page. He graded each arena on overall fan experience, goal horn, and venue.
He took the subway (and LIRR) to the game and was blown away by how nice the arena was from the outside and even more so on the inside while walking the concourse, which had both a modern and vintage feel. Hopkins walked around the arena toward the Tailgate section and passed by organist Paul Cartier, ordered some custom drinks, and then joined the Blue and Orange Army in Section 329.
He also swung by Isles Lab, took part in a "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant and appreciated the fan-created banners that were hung around the arena. Hopkin gave the Islanders a 9 for fan experience, a 9 for goal horn and a 9 for venue, an overall score of 27/30.
Hopkins' videos generated attention from teams around the NHL, some of which of invited him back for a second tour to get a more complete experience. The league even invited him to last year's Stadium Series game in Carolina between the Hurricanes and Capitals. We'll see if he'll be at MetLife Stadium for this year's games.
"No matter how good a team is, you still need to fill those seats – you still need to make those fans feel appreciated, as if they are one of the team."- Tyler Hopkin
The Islanders' home rink was only of three arenas to earn 9's across the board, joining the Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena and the United Center, home to the Chicago Blackhawks. His hometown Bruins were slightly below, getting an 8 for the venue, but 9's in the other two categories.
I guess UBS Arena isn't so bad, after all.