Monday, March 4, 2013

Time For An Upgrade

As many of you know, the Xcel Energy Center is regarded as one of, if not the best, arena in the NHL. In face, in the most recent ESPN Ultimate Team Rankings, The X, came in 6th in overall stadium experience out of all the 122 major sports teams (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL). It was the highest out of the 30 NHL teams.

In the most recent Bleacher Report countdown of the top 10 NHL arenas, Xcel came in 6th, behind Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (This is why I hate Bleacher Report. The Joe is a pit.), Madison Square Garden in New York, Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, and the Bell Centre in Montreal.

And I too, believe that The X is one of the best arenas in the NHL. The concourse is open to the ice and is very spacious. It is basically a museum to hockey's past. And there is no bad seat in the house.

But, in order for Xcel Energy Center to maintain its top arena status in the NHL, it needs to make a major upgrade in one area: Its scoreboard.

When it opened in 2000, the scoreboard was considered state of the art. It was viewed as one of the best in the league. And even up until a few years ago, it was still considered one of the best.

But lately, NHL teams have been bringing in new scoreboards to keep up with modern times. Perhaps the best one now residing in Montreal. The big thing with upgrades is simply making them bigger (Some seemed to be modeled after the monster scoreboard in Cowboys Stadium. They all are getting bigger to get fans a better view of a replay. And in Minnesota, the video boards have suddenly become "small" in the eyes of fans. To make things look worse, Minnesota's expansion brother, the Columbus Blue Jackets, one upped the Wild for once, putting $6.4 million into a new scoreboard this past offseason

You dont see it in this photo, but the score of the game is now on the bottom ribbon board of the main scoreboard. The video boards you see right above the "Xcel Energy Center" in the picture above, are now being used for ads and stats throughout the game. Its as if they are trying to keep up with the times, but they are not quite sure how to do that. (Tip: Leave the score on the 8 video boards and the ads on the ribbon boards)

I took the time to look through all 30 teams scoreboards. And I tooked the time to rank the scoreboards from best to worst. Here are the rankings:

1. Bell Centre-Montreal (Upgraded in 2008)
2. Staples Center-Los Angeles (Upgraded in 2010)
3. Rogers Arena-Vancouver (Upgraded in 2006)
4. First Niagara Center-Buffalo (Upgraded in 2007)
5. American Airlines Center-Dallas (Upgraded in 2009)
6. TD Garden-Boston (Upgraded in 2006)
7. Scotiabank Place-Ottawa (Upgraded in 2011)
8. Consol Energy Center-Pittsburgh (No upgrade since arena opened in 2010)
9. Verizon Center-Washington (Upgraded in 2007)
10. United Center-Chicago (Upgraded in 2009)
11. HP Pavilion-San Jose (Upgraded in 2007)
12. Tampa Bay Times Forum-Tampa Bay (Upgraded in 2012)
13. PNC Arena-Carolina (Upgraded in 2009)
14. Nationwide Arena-Columbus (Upgraded in 2012)
15. Wells Fargo Center-Philadelphia (Upgraded in 2006)
16. Air Canada Centre-Toronto (Upgraded in 2008)
17. Bridgestone Arena-Nashville (Upgraded in 2007)
18. Scotiabank Saddledome-Calgary (Upgraded in 2006)
19. Prudential Center-New Jersey (No upgrade since arena opened in 2007)
20. Scottrade Center-St. Louis (Upgraded in 2006)
21. Xcel Energy Center-Minnesota (No upgrade since arena opened in 2000)
22. Arena-Phoenix (No upgrade since arena opened in 2003)
23. MTS Centre-Winnipeg (No upgrade since arena opened in 2004)
24. Madison Square Garden-NY Rangers (Upgraded in 1991)
25. BB&T Center-Florida (No upgrade since arena opened in 1998)
26. Pepsi Center-Colorado (No upgrade since arena opened in 1999)
27. Honda Center-Anaheim (No upgrade since arena opened in 1993)
28. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum-NY Islanders (Upgraded in 2008)
29. Rexall Place-Edmonton (Upgraded in 1994)
30. Joe Louis Arena-Detroit (Upgraded in 2006. New video screens)
(My condolences to Detroit fans for having to look at that dinosaur. Actually, my condolences for having to sit in that arena for 3 hours nightly. I have issues watching a game there on TV.)

As you can see, once the list gets to Minnesota at 21, it begins the list of scoreboards that badly need a replacement. And one would hope, that some of those dinosaurs at the bottom will be gone in the next few years.

You should hope that the folks over at Minnesota Sports and Entertainment (The company that operates the X) are giving thought to a new scoreboard. Two-thirds of the NHL have already invested in new ones themselves within the past 7 years. It doesnt seem like it needs to be a necessary move, but at this point in time, it is.

Keeping the Xcel Energy Center atop those NHL arena lists, is a daunting task, but, this team has for 12 years now. And to help ensure it remaining there for the next 12, they might as well put in a new scoreboard. Its just better for everyone that way.

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