Building The NBA’s Perfect Arena

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Building a venue for an NBA franchise is a daunting, multi-million dollar enterprise, and even though most fans will only see one or two in their lifetimes, new ones are getting built every few years each trying to outdo the last one and offer their home audience something special. Whether that comes in the form of amenities, grandeur, or just something besides a plain square building with plenty of parking. BALLnROLL wanted to take a look at what the best stadiums do really well, and get our readers talking about what the perfect home for their team would look like. If there’s something we missed that you love about your home stadium, let us know!

Ambiance

Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Pacers)
 
 

Leave it to Indiana, the cradle of Basketball in the USA, to figure out how to make a sprawling, state-of-the-art complex feel as comfortable as a high school gym. The bells and whistles at the Fieldhouse are out of control (not the least of which is a new giant jumbotron installed in 2012) but they’ve kept consistent with the Wrigley Field Americana feel. So much so that it was considered the best sports facility in America for most of the last decade. If you get a chance to see the Fieldhouse in person, don’t pass it up, it’s basketball’s answer to field of dreams.

TECH

Amway Centre (Magic)
 
 

If you put 11,000 HD TV’s in a building, could you still get people to watch a live game of Basketball? The Amway Center bet yes and were proven right in 2010. If you’re sitting in the good seats, you’ll be privy to their touch screen concessions menus, the certifiably insane scoreboard augmented by 8 different auxiliary screens around the main four. It gets to the point where it’s actually distracting. Couple all that with a Stats Tracking system of cameras that links fans to all the data they could ever hope for (Average player speed, overall shot percentage, anything!) and you’ve got a building and a team that have totally embraced the internet generation. Everything about the Amway Center makes it feel space-agey, and the exterior architecture is probably the most stunning, bold and modern of any other sport period.

FOOD

American Airlines Center (Mavericks)
 

There’s one thing The AAC does better than anybody else in the game, and that’s feed hungry Texans. There’s not a junk/fast food lover in the entire planet that would leave The Maverick’s house unsatisfied. Mexican, Pizza, BBQ of every stripe, a high end steak house and a ridiculously perfect pub all line the halls and walls, and every single bit of it is top shelf. Heart health notwithstanding, these guys are so far and away better than anywhere else when it comes to grub, that they’re probably uncatchable.

Neighborhood Integration

The Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets)
 
 

Take a good look at the Barclays center, because they’ve raised the bar the league over for what a high end barn is supposed to feel like in it’s host town. Not only is the Barclays Center the newest barn in the league(it opened just in time for this season), it’s far and away the best example of an arena in sync with it’s neighborhood. It lays at the junction of 9 different subway lines, and is so much a part of the neighborhood that passers by can see the scoreboard on their way to buy organic groceries or whatever gentrified Brooklyn does when they don’t have Nets tickets. Add all that to the fact that the restaurants at Barclays are recognizable extensions of iconic neighborhood eats, and you’ve got a genuine Brookyln experience that only cost a cool billion to erect. To top it all off, there’s a Barclays mobile app that lets you order your concessions without leaving your seat, and free wifi to boot. As if you didn’t hate your old high school gym enough already.

Presence

Madison Square Gardens (Knicks)
 
 

It’s tough to beat MSG for its punch. It’s smack in the heart of the world’s cultural capital, it’s got that open, epic feel, and when you’re in the stands you can literally feel the history of all the crazy events that went down there over the years, in basketball, in music, in America. It got a serious facelift over the past 5 years, and they did it in all the right ways, keeping the classic feel, while cleaning up the edges so you don’t feel like you’re cattle the way you used to heading to your seat. It’s the perfect barn in the perfect town, even if the team playing there is usually less so.

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