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Arena Wars Stanley Cup Final edition: L.A.’s Staples Center vs. NYC’s MSG

By Tim Newcomb

West Coast vs. East Coast. Los Angeles vs. New York City. Staples Center vs. Madison Square Garden.

The Kings and Rangers won’t be the only two entities going head-to-head when the Stanley Cup Final starts on Wednesday, as each team's arena—two of the most used sports/entertainment venues in the world—hope to host the championship trophy celebration.

Madison Square Garden is arguably the most recognizable name (after all, it bills itself as "the World's Most Famous Arena") and it now boasts a recent $1 billion renovation. Staples, meanwhile, is  one of the busiest arenas in the nation hosting two NBA teams and the NHL's Kings as part of its 250 events per year.

Let’s take a look at how the two venues stack up against each other:

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Year opened:

MSG: The Garden opened at its current location—the third in the venue’s history—in 1968 and the above-mentioned renovation was finished in October 2013.

Staples: At a cost of roughly $375 million, Staples Center opened in 1999.

Capacity for hockey:

MSG: 18,006

Staples: 18,118

Location:

MSG resides atop Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, which any New Yorker will gladly tell you is the epicenter of the entire cultural world. There aren’t too many locations more bustling than the general vicinity of the arena.

Staples Center now anchors AEG’s L.A. Live complex, a growing district filled with shopping, entertainment, dining and residential options in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, next to the L.A. Convention Center on Figueroa Street.

Getting there:

MSG: It's location atop Penn Station means that nearly every form of transportation available in Manhattan leads directly to the venue..

Staples: Okay, so remember this is L.A. Getting to Staples isn’t as metro-friendly as MSG, although the site is within walking distance of metro stops. Plus, since California loves its freeways, Staples is right off Interstate 10 and the Harbor Freeway.

NHL tickets:

MSG: With an average admission costing Rangers fans about $75, the most expensive NHL ticket outside of Canada, the Garden has some of the most priciest seats in the league.

Staples: Watching the Kings in person during the regular season was a bit easier on the wallet. At an average price of about $63, the team is near the (front of the) middle of the NHL pack.

Of course, all bets are off for ticket prices to Cup final games, as you can expect to pay thousands of dollars just to get into the arena, not to mention the premium seating options.

Other prices:

New York is a natural for high prices. The Rangers have the highest concession tabs in the league while the Kings, again, fall somewhere in the middle of the pack.

The seats:

MSG: The 2013 renovation created more fan amenities, such as fresh dining options, premium seating, new restrooms, a new concourse and two rebuilt seating bowls. A new pedestrian walkway over the action offers a touch of intrigue.

Staples: There’s plenty of premium here, with 160 luxury suites (15 of those “event suites”), 2,500 club seats plus two-thirds of all seating in the lower bowl allows fans to enjoy the $2 million lighting package, $1.5 million Bose sound system, and 2010-installed eight-sided Panasonic 4HD center-hung scoreboard. The interior layout also allows for club and arena restaurants to overlook the arena floor.

Signature element:

MSG: At one time the largest cable-stayed roof in the nation, the circular lid clad in brown panels gives the Garden a truly distinct architectural look with an engineering element that frees the space of columns to support the roof’s load while creating an interior environment unlike other arena.

Staples: The circular and slanted downtown arena boasts 2,500 tons of structural steel to merge with glass for a modern aesthetic. But this arena is all about business, with a three-story office tower adjacent and meeting rooms filling the 950,000-square-foot, five-concourse venue, one of the largest arenas in North America.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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