There are beautiful hockey rinks and buildings all over the world which you probably will never have the pleasure to visit in your life. While many of them are hidden gems and not very well-known to the public, there are hockey arenas which serve as the main venue of professional teams. I am going to highlight some of the most beautiful/spectacular European professional hockey arenas in this article.
Vaillant Arena (Davos, Switzerland)
Probably one of the nicest hockey arenas in Europe, possibly in the entire world. This is really a special and unique professional hockey arena from the outside and inside. Special thing about this arena is that it is made out of wood, from the inside and outside which gives a special and unique atmosphere.
Next to the building you can find an open natural ice rink which served as a venue for international speed skating events. The town of Davos is a famous Swiss ski resort and lies 1,560 meters above sea level. (5,120 ft) It has a population of just above 11’000 and is a typical hockey town. Its most famous “brand” is Swiss record hockey champion HC Davos, which plays in the beautiful Vaillant Arena and is the unchallenged pride of the habitants. Because Davos is located in the alps and is kind of cut off from the bigger cities in Switzerland, the arena is often pretty empty at game days, especially on week days.
However, once a year there is a state of emergency in Davos, when the village hosts the famous Spengler Cup, a traditional tournament between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Ondrej Nepela Arena (Bratislava, Slovakia)
The Ondrej Nepela Arena, also known as Slovnaft Arena, is named in honour of Ondrej Nepela, a Slovak figure skater. It is the home of the only Slovakian KHL-team Slovan Bratislava. The building saw a major renovation in 2009-2011 as it was one of the venues for the 2011 World Championship. All quarterfinals, semifinals as well as the bronze and gold medal game have been played in this arena, where Finland crushed Sweden in the final 6-1 to capture the gold medal.
This arena is a treat to watch from the outside with its unique glass architecture. According to Slovakian media, the arena features one of the most advanced game presentation, LED scoreboards and security systems ever built. Ondrej Nepela Arena hosted the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup for the first time this year. I have catched some games and saw this venue from the in and outside and can confirm that this arena is very modern and unique in its outside architecture.
Ericsson Globe (Stockholm, Sweden)
It might not be the most beautiful building in the world, but surely you can’t miss the Globe stadium in Stockholm. This unique arena is shaped like a large white ball and is located in the southern part of the city of Stockholm. You can see the white ball from quite far away already and with its shape it is probably one of the most amazing arenas in hockey.
However, there is currently no team playing its home games in this arena. Some home games of Djurgarden Stockholm and AIK Stockholm have been scheduled in the Globe, especially the Stockholm derby games as it has more capacity than the Hovet Arena just next to it. The Globe is also home of many Swedish National games, as well as hosted multiple World Championships and NHL Challenges.
Ostrava Arena (Ostrava, Slovakia)
The Ostrava Arena in Ostrava, formerly known as CEZ Arena, was the second venue of this year’s World Championship next to Prague and has a capacity of 12,500. The World Championship tournament 2015 is the one holding the current overall attendance record and therefore the Ostrava Arena made it into the hockey history books.
Frankly, this arena is nothing spectacular from the inside, but it is quite special from the outside. Its shape reminds me at a closed oyster. Ostrava Arena is currently the home of the hockey club HC Vitkovice from the Czech Extraliga.
HK Areena (Turku, Finland)
The HK Areena is home of the traditional Finnish top team TPS Turku and serves as an event hall. It hosted multiple World Championships and a couple of concerts. This arena looks like an average stadium from the outside, but from inside it reminds one at an opera. The stand behind one net looks like an opera with its lounges and the red seating underlines the feeling of an opera visit even more. You can take a virtual tour by clicking here!
Lanxess Arena (Cologne, Germany)
Lanxess Arena in Cologne is the biggest hockey arena in Germany with a capacity of 18,700. Next to hockey, teams of the city’s handball and basketball team are playing their home games in the arena. This venue is special because of its arch on the roof which makes the arena visible from far away. The arch draws some comparison to the one which is built around the world-famous soccer stadium “Wembley” in London, England.
Bolshoy Ice Dome (Sochi, Russia)
The Bolshoy Ice Dome is probably the most famous Russian hockey arena for Canadians. Canada has won the gold medal at the Olympic games in Sochi and the final game has been played in this arena where Canada captured the gold medal. The Ice Dome was solely built for the Olympic games and has been opened in 2012. After the Olympic tournament, newly created KHL-team HC Sochi became the tenant.
Bolshoy means something like “great” in Russian and this name was chosen due to its universal familiarity in other countries, like in addition to its allusion to the Bolshoi Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, and other great Russian accomplishments, according to the Sochi Olympic games committee. The LEDs outside of the stadium make it possible to display nice color combinations or national flags and gives the Ice Dome a nice appearance from the outside.
Luzhniki Small Sports Arena (Moscow, Russia)
Luzhniki Small Sports Arena is the home of the Russian hockey club and Ovechkin’s youth team, HC Dynamo Moscow. It was built in 1956 and is a rather small building with a capacity of only 8,700. However, its real beauty can be seen from outside only, its surface looks like an art gallery, theatre and not at all like an ice hockey rink. Maybe not the most beautiful building for most of you, but it displays the charm of the old days of the UDSSR and is a real eye-catcher with its soviet architecture.
Arena Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)
Croatia is not a typical hockey country, but they have one of the biggest arenas in Europe with a capacity of 15,200, the Arena Zagreb. It is a rather new building, opened in 2008. The local hockey team Medvescak Zagreb joined the KHL in 2014 and they are playing some of their homes games in this arena since 2011. However, main venue is the much smaller Dom Sportova. Next to Medvescak, Zagreb’s handball team is also playing home games in the Arena Zagreb.
From the outside, Arena Zagreb looks like a giant cage with its curved columns around the main building. The arena has won a couple of architecture awards with its remarkable design.
Minsk-Arena (Minsk, Belarus)
A beautiful, very modern hockey arena which was opened in 2010 with the KHL-All Star Game. The arena is the home of the KHL team Dynamo Minsk and if you are planning a trip to Belarus it is an absolute must to catch a game at Minsk-Arena.
It was also the main venue of the World Championship in 2014.
There is a wooden indoor cycling track integrated into this stadium complex as well, where the UCI Track Cycling World Championships took place in 2013.
Megasport Arena (Moscow, Russia)
The Megasport Arena in Moscow is a very colorful building from the inside as well as from the outside. It isn’t a very big stadium and has a capacity of only 12,000, but the outside stairs make the building look funny and special at the same time. Inside the arena, many colored chairs give it a special character and the high roof makes the arena feel a lot bigger than it actually is.
Megasport Arena hosted some games of the 2007 World Championship including the medal games. At the time of the constructions, this arena was one of the first newly build arenas in Moscow since a very long time. However, it is currently not used by any big hockey club in Moscow.
Did I miss any outstanding European hockey arena? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below and share your thoughts.
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own