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Five Oldest NBA Arenas

Oracle Arena

Across the NBA, the push for new or renovated arenas has taken place in many cities. In cases where a new venue has opened or is under construction, it has contributed to a considerable change in the age rankings of the league’s venues.

Construction is already taking place on a new arena in Milwaukee, while the Detroit Pistons are still looking to move to Little Caesars Arena for next season. The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, continue to make progress on the construction of the Chase Center, which is slated to open in 2019.

To see how these developments and others have affected the dynamic among the league’s venues, Arena Digest is providing a snapshot on the five oldest arenas in the NBA. There has been considerable change among this group over the last few years and, with more new NBA arenas expected to open in the coming years, this order will continue to evolve.

Oracle Arena

Year Opened: 1966          Current team: Golden State Warriors

As our own Jeff Goldberg explained last summer, Oracle Arena has a unique history, having opened as the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena in 1966. The WHL’s California Seals and ABA’s Oakland Oaks were among the arena’s earliest tenants, and it was not until the early 1970’s that the Warriors began calling it home on a permanent basis. The Warriors’ success over the last several years has helped put Oracle Arena in the spotlight, but its run as an NBA venue is expected to come to an end before this decade closes. In January, the Warriors broke ground on the Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district, and it remains on track to open in 2019.

Madison Square Garden

Year Opened: 1968        Current team: New York Knicks

The current incarnation of Madison Square Garden is the fourth arena in New York City with that name, and it has had a long run. Having hosted the Knicks throughout its history, Madison Square Garden actually holds the distinction of being the second oldest arena in the NBA and the oldest in the NHL. It was heavily modernized several years ago, as a $1 billion renovation led to revamped concourses, technology upgrades, a revamped Chase Square 7th Avenue entrance, and more. Some have lobbied for Madison Square Garden to be demolished to make way for a Penn Station expansion but, as we noted last May, a high cost estimate puts that idea in doubt, meaning that the Garden could be around for years to come.

BMO Harris Bradley Center

Year Opened: 1988   Current team: Milwaukee Bucks

With no active NBA arenas opening in the 1970’s, there is a significant gap between the Garden and the BMO Harris Bradley  Center, which is tied with the Palace of Auburn Hills as the league’s third-oldest venue. Unlike the Garden, however, the BMO Harris Bradley  Center is in its final years. A new downtown arena for the Bucks is already under construction, and is on track to open for the 2018-2019 NBA season. That means that next season could be the Bucks’ last at the BMO Harris Bradley  Center.

Palace of Auburn Hills

Year opened: 1988     Current team: Detroit Pistons

Throughout its run, the Palace of Auburn Hills has had plenty of highlights, including three championship seasons from the Pistons. However, its run in the NBA could be down to its final weeks. The Pistons announced last fall that they intend to move to Little Caesars Arena, which is currently under construction in downtown Detroit. If that deal is finalized, the Pistons would join the NHL’s Red Wings at the venue in the fall of 2017. The future of the Palace has since been left in question, though final decision has been made on its fate after the Pistons depart

Target Center

Year opened: 1990   Current team: Minnesota Timberwolves

Unlike the Palace and the BMO Bradley Harris Center, the Target Center is here to stay. In a project that has already begun, the Target Center is being modernized through an extensive, multi-phase overhaul. The arena has already received a new videoboard as part of the renovations, and a major makeover to the venue’s interior is set to begin this summer. To accommodate the construction, the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx will shift their 2017 home schedule to the Xcel Energy Ice Center, though the renovations will not affect the Timberwolves’ schedule.

Looking ahead, the top five is due for some changes. Once one of these venues hosts its final NBA game, Vivint Smart Home—the home of the Utah Jazz that is about to undergo a major renovation—will become the fifth oldest in the NBA with an opening date of 1991. The seventh oldest is Talking Stick Resort Arena, which opened as home to the Phoenix Suns in 1992.

Image of Oracle Arena courtesy Golden State Warriors.

This article first appeared in the Arena Digest weekly newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here for a free subscription!

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