Thought it might be fun to take a look at the various arena logos from around the NHL. Yesterday you got a look at the rinks in the Western Conference. Today it's back east. Have a look.
The current home of the Boston Bruins has been colored by a series of bank mergers over the past two decades. When the Bs left their longtime home of Boston Garden in 1995, their new building was already having naming issues. The arena was supposed to be called Shawmut Center — named after Shawmut Bank. But the bank merged with FleetBoston Financial before it ever opened. So it was renamed the FleetCenter before it hosted its first game.
FleetBoston merged with Bank of America in 2004, but the FleetCenter name stuck around another year before a new deal allowed the rights holder to sell. For a month in early 2005, the name changed daily as the naming rights were auctioned off on ebay. The proceeds of that went to local charities. The building was simply known as YourGarden until TD Banknorth took over the rights in July. They kept the "Garden" part.
Then yet another merger required yet another new name for the building. In 2009, it became TD Garden — a name will still know it by today. Now, if only we can get someone to write a good pun incorporating Toronto-Dominion and the home of the Bruins.
Oh good, another arena named for a bank. That won't get us into trouble. When The Aud closed in 1996, the Buffalo Sabres got a new home. It was called Marine Midland Arena. Yes, Marine Midland was a bank, but it was actually owned by HSBC. And in 1999, they decided to rename the building the HSBC Arena. Then in 2011, First Niagara Financial Group bought up some HSBC branches and wanted their name on the building. Hence, the First Niagara Center was born.
Hey, another bank. Awesome. The Carolina Hurricanes call PNC Arena home. But that's hardly the building's original name. First of all, when the Whalers arrived in North Carolina in 1997, they were forced to play at the Greensboro Coliseum while the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena was being built. When it was finished in 1999, the Canes finally moved to the town they intended.
Then in 2002, naming rights to the new building were sold to RBC Bank — turning it into the RBC Center. Bank merger alert! RBC was purchased by PNC Financial Services in 2011. They changed the name on March 15, 2012.
You've got to be kidding. I get that banks have the necessary cash for things like arena naming rights, but when you agree to that, you have to expect the name is just going to change every few years, right? Guess what. Wait for it. The Florida Panthers entered the NHL in 1993 playing out of Miami Arena — a building they shared with the NBA's Miami Heat — but moved out just five years later.
In 1998, they left for the shiny, new National Car Rental Center in Sunrise. Office Depot picked up the naming rights in 2002 for a few years. Then in 2005, it became the BankAtlantic Center. There it is. BankAtlantic was sold to BB&T in 2012 and the arena was renamed the BB&T Center.
After 72 seasons of hockey and 24 Stanley Cups in the Montreal Forum, the Montreal Canadiens departed in 1996 for the new Molson Centre. When Molson sold the team, they also gave up the naming rights. The building became the Bell Centre in 2002.
The Prudential Center, nicknamed "The Rock," is one of the newest buildings in the NHL, having been home to the New Jersey Devils since 2007. Prior to that, they played in the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. It was actually called the Brendan Byrne Arena when they arrived in 1982 — but most people referred to it as the Meadowlands Arena.
The New York Islanders are one of just a handful of NHL teams still playing in their original building after 40 years. They entered the NHL in 1972 and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been the only home the Isles have ever known. But that will soon change.
The Islanders announced in October that they will move to Brooklyn in 2015 — when their lease at The Coliseum ends. Their new arena will be the Barclays Center, which opened in September 2012. (Uh oh, not another bank!)
Billed as "The World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden has been home to the New York Rangers since 1968. The original MSG was first built in 1879 in another location. The Rangers actually debuted at the third incarnation of The Garden when they joined the NHL in 1926.
The NHL expanded back into Canada's capital in 1992 with the Ottawa Senators. They played at the Ottawa Civic Centre until The Palladium opened in the middle of the 1995-96 season. Prior to the next season, the building was renamed the Corel Centre, under a 10-year naming rights deal. When it expired in 2006, it became Scotiabank Place. (Anyone counting how many banks we're up to in the east?)
By the way, since Calgary's Saddledome was renamed in 2010, Scotiabank now has its name and logo on two NHL arenas.
The Spectrum was built to house the Philadelphia Flyers in 1967. But after almost 30 years, the club upgraded to the new CoreStates Center in 1996. Wait, that's a bank. Here we go again. First Union acquired CoreStates Bank in 1998 — giving us the First Union Center. In 2003, First Union merged with Wachovia — so we had the Wachovia Center for a while. Then Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo in 2008, but the building wasn't renamed Wells Fargo Center until 2010. How many more name changes can the "Spectrum II" endure before the existing 21-year deal is up? Only time will tell.
The NHL's newest building is the Consol Energy Center — home of the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2010. Previously, the Pens played at "The Igloo" — also known as Mellon Arena — from the time they entered the NHL during the 1967 expansion. When that arena was torn down in 2011, it was 50 years old.
After playing their first season in a glorified barn on the Florida State Fairgrounds, the Tampa Bay Lightning left Expo Hall for the aptly re-christened ThunderDome. The Dome is now known as Tropicana Field, home of the MLB's Tampa Bay Rays. In 1996, the Bolts moved into their new home — the Ice Palace. If you ask me — and I know I'm biased — that is hands-down the best name EVER for an NHL rink.
But it didn't last. The naming rights were sold to the St. Petersburg Times in 2002 and the building was called the St. Pete Times Forum. In 2012, the newspaper changed its name to the Tampa Bay Times — so the arena's name was changed as well in the middle of last season. (It also got a much cooler logo.)
The Lightning actually have kind of a funny arena story when you look back. From 1993 to 1996, the "Tampa team" played in St. Petersburg, Fla. Then a few years after they finally arrived in downtown Tampa, their arena suddenly had "St. Pete" in its name. Quite confusing for most people outside the Bay Area.
The Toronto Maple Leafs played at Maple Leaf Gardens for almost 70 years before moving to Air Canada Centre in 1999. The Gardens, by the way, now house a grocery store. So at least they didn't tear it down the way every other storied NHL building has been.
The MTS Centre has housed the new Winnipeg Jets since their arrival in 2011. Named for Manitoba Telecom Services, the arena was built by True North Sports & Entertainment and opened in 2004. It was home to the AHL's Manitoba Moose until the Jets moved in. The original Winnipeg Jets played at the Winnipeg Arena even during their WHA days in the 1970s. That building was demolished in 2006.
We finish with another building named for a telecom company — the Verizon Center, home of the Washington Capitals. It opened in 1997 as the MCI Center, but the name was changed in 2006 when Verizon acquired MCI. Prior to 1997, the Caps played at the Capital Centre, built in 1973 ahead of the team's arrival a year later. That building was renamed the USAir Arena in 1993 and again changed to US Airways Arena in 1997 when the airline rebranded itself.
Hope you found all of this as enlightening as I did. And I think if we learned one thing, it's that you should not sell naming rights to a bank. It's just going to cost you in the long run when you have to keep changing your signage every five minutes. Back to normal blog posts tomorrow.