The finals of the Stanley Cup — the top club prize of ice hockey — begin May 28 between the Western Conference champions Vegas Golden Knights and the Eastern Conference series winner Washington Capitals.
Traditionally, the experience of attending a NHL game meant enduring tight and often uncomfortable seating in an atmospheric, but utilitarian venue. Attendees might enjoy popcorn, and a Budweiser or Labatt while watching the game under slightly dim lights, as live organ music revved the crowd during game breaks.
To many hockey purists, this might sound nothing short of sublime, but the contemporary fan can enjoy the game in significantly more luxurious conditions and, even more importantly, support the health of the planet in the process.
The Stanley Cup was first lifted in 1892 by the now-defunct Montreal Hockey Club. The sport’s roots in the city are exceptionally deep, as evidenced by the loyal support of the iconic Montreal Canadiens, which has won the cup a record 23 times, nearly twice that of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 titles.
The team left the historic Montreal Forum, their home since 1926, for the state-of-the art Bell Center — originally named Molson Center — in 1996. Although the club has yet to experience its traditional success in the new arena, the venue offers far more comfort and has allowed the club to be on the forefront of ecological responsibility as it applies to professional sports franchises.
Located in downtown Montreal, the Bell Center is the world’s largest hockey arena, with a capacity of more than 21,000. It was designed by LeMay and Lapointe Magne & Associates and carried a construction cost of $270 million (Canadian).
Luxury suites are posh and contemporary, with options for catered gourmet food and drink, and an enviable view of the action on the ice. Suites come with a dedicated attendant, private entrance and indoor parking.
The Canadiens established The Goal is Green in 2007, in conjunction with the club’s 100th anniversary. Its aim is to reduce the club’s ecological footprint and becoming a community leader in sustainable practices.
The initiative has led to improvements at the Bell Center in areas of recycling and reduced energy consumption, which have resulted in several key certifications, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and ICI on Recycle! from Recyc-Québec, both in 2017.
Professional sports teams and venues increasingly have eyed better sustainability practices, and the NHL has been a leader, creating the NHL Green program to advocate for ecological practices in communities and within the sport. A few league franchise venues have achieved various levels of LEED certification, including the home arenas for the Pittsburg Penguins (gold) and Edmonton Oilers (silver). Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL franchise Minnesota Wild, received LEED silver certification in 2014 after upgrades to the facility in downtown St. Paul in 2000.
The NHL’s newest team — the Vegas Golden Knights — and venue are pursuing similar sustainability goals while offering a high levels of luxury to fans.
T-Mobile Arena sits slightly recessed from the Las Vegas Strip, behind New York New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The $370 million arena,which opened in 2016, is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and the Anschutz Entertainment Group, better known as AEG.
Luxury suites come with all the expected amenities, plus access to the arena’s VIP lounges and clubs.
But underneath the glitzy facade is a gem of architecture and engineering that has garnered LEED gold certification. Features that led the designation include the use of energy-saving LED lighting and low-flow water systems. Much of the arena was built with recycled material, and about 80 percent of its construction waste also was recycled.
T-Mobile and the Golden Knights will host the Captitals in their first ever Stanley Cup finals hockey game, Monday, May 28.