In the last dwindling days of spring this year, the St. Louis Blues ended a 12-year chapter in the history of their arena. As one chapter ended, a new one began with Enterprise, accompanied by a hefty price tag of a $42-million makeover.
Blues Arena Renovations in the Works
Renovations of the newly-named Enterprise Center began this summer. The arena is now equipped with refurbished locker rooms, upgraded seating areas, and a brand-spanking new jumbotron at center ice to accommodate the 18,724-capacity seating. Additional renovations have been completed leading up to the start of the 2018-19 season, including a VIP bar at ice level.
While the name on the outside of the building has changed, Blues fans have transitioned smoothly. After all, this is not the first time that their home ice has been rebranded. Blues fans have long proven that St. Louis and hockey are synonymous, as can be seen in the team’s history.
A Condensed History of St. Louis Blues Arenas
Ironically, the story of the Blues begins with their lifelong rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. In 1967, during the NHL expansion, the St. Louis Blues Hockey Club was established at the insistence of Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, who at the time owned the original St. Louis Arena. The Wirtz family believed that the city held great potential as the home of a new NHL team.
Located on Oakland Avenue, the St. Louis Arena was a sports mecca in the heart of Downtown St. Louis for nearly 70 years. With the establishment of the team in the late 60s, the arena was purchased from the Wirtz family by the father-son team of Sidney Salomon, Jr. and Sidney Salomon III. The Salomons owned the team for 10 years and brought the Blues to three straight Stanley Cup Finals.
Although the city gained a new professional sports team, the weathered arena was in such disrepair that the Salomons had to renovate at the close of the Blues’ inaugural season. Through a series of expansions, and eventually a disinterest in proceeding restoration, the arena was demolished in 1999 after more than 25 seasons.
Hull and Oates Dominate the Kiel Center Era 1994-00
Five years before the arena was leveled, the team relocated to the Kiel Center. Since then, many noteworthy players have called St. Louis home and given generations of fans something to cheer for.
Arguably the most revered player to wear the blue sweater is none other than “The Golden Brett” Hull, who continued his dad’s legacy as an All-Star on the ice. Also, let’s not forget the powerhouse that was Hull and Oates. Adam Oates and Hull combined scored a total of 270 goals and 341 assists in three seasons (1989-92).
A few other notable St. Louis Blues of the Kiel Center era include:
- Wayne Gretzky
- Al MacInnis
- Chris Pronger
- Grant Fuhr
- Curtis “Cujo” Joseph
While speed on the ice and the ability to bypass goalies with wicked slappers is what most hockey fans truly love to cheer for, an honorable mention must be given to the tough guys too. Here’s to the feared enforcer for the Blues, Tony Twist (1989-90, 1994-99).
The Savvis Era 2000-06
With an explosive end to the 90s, the Blues won the Central Division Championship, but fell to the Sharks in the Division Quarterfinals. Amid Y2K, the arena underwent a third name change, becoming the Savvis Center at the start of the 2000-01 season.
During this time the team was owned by Paige Sports Entertainment, which was established as a private holding company for the investments accrued by the Laurie family of Columbia, MO, according to an IAC Holdings press release from 2004.
In the following six years under the Savvis name, the Blues made it to a series of Stanley Cup Playoff semi- and quarterfinal rounds, including finishing as the second-place team in the Central Division four years in a row.
You’ll remember some notable players that helped the Blues reach these heights:
- Keith Tkachuk
- Pavol Demitra
- Doug Weight
- Scott Mellanby
- Barret Jackman
Scottrade Center Sweeps Blues into New Era 2006-18
In September 2006, Scottrade CEO Rodger Riney bought the naming rights to the Blues arena from the Laurie family, after they backed out just five years into a 20-year contract. It is during this era of the Blues that today’s star players emerged, such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo.
With the infamous canceled season in the recent past, the Blues fought through the latter half of the 2000s, winning two Central Division Championships and making several Playoff appearances along the way.
Here are a few of the players that made the Blues the team they are today:
- T.J. Oshie
- David Perron
- Paul Kariya
- David Backes
- Alexander Steen
During this most recent era, the Scottrade Center was no stranger to the gloves hitting the ice, thanks to a few of these honorable mentions.
- Ryan Reaves
- D. J. King
- Cam Janssen
While we’re on the edge of our seats waiting for the 2018-19 regular season to begin, the Blues are training hard to make it farther than they ever have before. As opening night approaches, the team continues to prime their prospects for the big show in practice drills and affiliate league training. Side by side with team veterans such as Jake Allen and Alexander Steen, newcomers to St. Louis like Ryan O’Reilly and Niko Mikkola are expected to make big plays for the Blues this season.