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Down to One: Formerly Shared NBA-NHL Arenas

Several active arenas were once shared by NBA and NHL teams, only to see one of those clubs depart. In some cases, the splits were prompted by the desire of teams to have their own homes, while others were instances of teams failing to make it in a market.

A few weeks ago, we looked at the list of active shared arenas around the NBA and NHL. In this story, we are taking a different approach, focusing on active venues that were once full-time homes to teams in both leagues, only to see one leave. The range spans from the oldest active NBA arena, to one of the NHL’s more recent venues.

Oracle Arena—Golden State Warriors and California Golden Seals

When it opened in 1966, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena (it did not become Oracle Arena until 2006) helped lure major sports franchises to Oakland. For a time, the city boasted NBA and NHL teams under the same roof—the NBA’s Warriors and NHL’s Golden Seals. The Golden Seals, originally the California Seals, joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1967. The team was meant to serve the whole Bay Area region, but struggled to gain a following and, after the 1975-76 season, relocated to Cleveland, where it would play for a short time as the Barons. As for the Warriors, they have played at Oracle Arena continuously since 1971, but will open the new Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019.

Talking Stick Resort Arena—Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Coyotes

The venue originally opened in 1992 with one sports tenant: the NBA’s Suns. Phoenix received its own NHL team in 1996 when the original Winnipeg Jets moved to the city, settling into the downtown arena. However, the arrangement proved to be short-lived, as the newly branded Coyotes played in an arena that was not originally designed with hockey in mind—resulting in obstructed views from the seating bowl, among other issues. The Coyotes would open their own facility in suburban Glendale in 2003, and have since been renamed the Arizona Coyotes, but the Suns remain at the arena.

Rogers Arena—Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver Grizzlies

When it opened in 1995, the then-General Motors Place was positioned as the long-term home to NBA and NHL teams in the cities. Arriving in the NBA as an expansion team, the Grizzlies were supposed to be one of two clubs—along with the Toronto Raptors—that gave the NBA a successful entry into Canada. Whereas the Raptors were able to compete in Toronto, the Grizzlies struggled with attendance and revenue issues. After several United States cities courted the team, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis prior to the 2001-2002 season, remaining there today.

State Farm Arena—Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers

History essentially repeated itself in Atlanta. Omni Coliseum originally opened in 1972 to accommodate the NBA’s Hawks and NHL’s Flames, but the Flames were short-lived in Atlanta, moving to Calgary in 1980. In the late 1990’s, the desire to bring the NHL back to Atlanta contributed in part to the decision to tear down the Omni and build a new arena on its site, and the expansion Thrashers began play when the new venue (then known as Philips Arena) opened in 1999. However, the Thrashers struggled to gain a foothold in the city and were relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.

Prudential Center—New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets

Prudential Center is designed to host both basketball and hockey—Seton Hall men’s basketball plays there full-time—but the Devils were the only one of the two major franchises that committed to the downtown Newark venue. The Nets had their sights set on Brooklyn but, in the midst of struggles at the Meadowlands’ aging Izod Center, came to terms on an agreement to spend two seasons in Newark before Brooklyn’s Barclays Center opened in 2012. In a coincidental twist, the Barclays Center would later become home of the NHL’s New York Islanders, but the Islanders are planning to move out of the facility in the coming years because of its dissatisfaction with the arena as a hockey venue.

Image courtesy Visit Phoenix.

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