By ALAN SNEL
ANAHEIM — Like any arena, when the Honda Center opened in 1993 people gushed.
But now at 24 years old, an age when an arena is going to show its warts and wear, the home arena for the Anaheim Ducks is looking to keep up with the stiff arena competition around the country.
The Honda Center sits 17,174 at capacity, about 200 less than the capacity of T-Mobile Arena, which is less than two years old. But the similar hockey crowd capacities are where the similarities end. (Well, except for beer prices, too.) By the way, supervisors at Honda Center briefed servers that tonight’s crown would be SRO for Golden Knights vs. Ducks. Indeed, the crowd attendance was announced at 17,444.
The Honda Center’s exterior has an old-timey gymnasium look, with right-angles dominating the veneer while T-Mobile Arena has a giant modernistic flying saucer look with its signature bronzed exterior skin. The Ducks’ arena sits near the Angels’ MLB ballpark, while T-Mobile Arena sits behind New York-New York on the east side of I-15.
The Honda Center’s main concourse has a much lower ceiling (think Thomas & Mack Center’s concourse) than the central walkway around T-Mobile Arena, which has a much more open interior design and offers more varying seating options. In the southern California market, the Honda Center has a more cozy feel compared to the interior of mammoth Staples Center, the home arena of the rival Los Angeles Kings that has three levels of suites 30 miles to the north up Interstate 5.
The Honda Center’s interior design is symmetrical, with a lower bowl, a suite behind the top row of the lower bowl, a suite level and an upper bowl. There’s tan, brown and off-white tiles climbing nearly halfway up the concourse walls, offering an institutional look.
Honda Center is owned by the city of Anaheim, while T-Mobile Arena is privately owned by MGM Resorts International, Anschutz Entertainment Group (which owns the LA Kings, Staples Center and LA Live) and even Golden Knights owner Bill Foley (he owns 15 percent of T-Mobile Arena).
Honda paid $60 million for a 15-year naming rights deal to call the venue Honda Center starting in 2006.
If you think $4 million a year is costly for a naming rights deal consider that your Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority just agreed to pay Howard Hughes, Corp., the owner of the Triple A Las Vegas 51s, the same amount — $4 million annually — for a 20-year naming rights deal to call the 51s’ new Summerlin venue, “Las Vegas Ballpark.” T-Mobile paid about $6 million a year for its naming rights deal at the arena in Las Vegas.
One big difference — the in-game entertainment.
There are no pre-game ceremony here like the sword and light show that happens before the Golden Knight games at T-Mobile Arena.
Also, it’s more quiet here at Honda Center, with no in-house produced videos like those that the Golden Knights’ staff generates. The Golden Knights entertainment crew is firing up music, showing crowd shots and highlighting drummer crew beats all game long. Few crowd scenes are on the center jumbotron here compared to T-Mobile Arena. Mostly music between action. The Honda Center does have an organist playing to offer that old-school hockey vibe.
But nobody puts on a hockey show like Las Vegas.
Here’s a look at the Honda Center and just across a river bed from a homeless encampment.
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