Ice and Smoke: The Comprehensive Guide to Smoking Cigars in NHL Arenas
Posted October 2, 2000, 5 p.m. e.s.t.
You enter the long concrete tunnel with an overpriced hot dog in one hand and messy nachos in the other. The hum of the Zamboni is just an echo fading further and further away. Suddenly, the lights brighten at the far end of the tunnel and the hair-raising sound of skates slicing into perfect ice sends a shiver down your spine. Then the repeated claps from pucks being greeted by a barrage of stick blades fills the arena air. You hustle through the tunnel towards the sound of goalies swatting away the hardened rubber discs. You burst into the arena past the vigilant usher -- mustard staining one pant leg, nacho cheese dribbling down the other -- only to realize it's just the pre-game warm-up.
Not to worry. Your cigars are stain-free in your breast pocket, and you were thoughtful enough to bring napkins anyway. So kick back and let the hockey players do the sweating. You've got a fine cigar to enjoy during the intermission, after, or even during the game. Not sure where or if you can smoke inside your favorite NHL team's rink? Read on, and refer to our graph below for a complete cigar smoker's guide to smoking in NHL arenas.
True hockey fanatics can certainly recognize the differences in playing styles between the Eastern and Western conferences, but when it comes to cigar friendliness, the East is more dominant. Nearly every team in the NHL offers an outdoor smoking area to accommodate passionate cigar aficionados. The Atlantic Division boasts two of the cigar-friendliest arenas in the league and both are in the same state of Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia Flyers may arguably have the heftiest squad in the NHL, and they undeniably boast the most cigar-friendly arena in the league. Holt's Cigar Club provides its members with a sophisticated smoker-friendly environment. Members enjoy their own humidified cigar locker and a selection of top shelf liquors, as well as a stock of premium cigars (including Holt's own Ashton brand). Membership is $385 for the season, and members can invite up to three guests per game. If you don't get to many Flyers games, there's also a single-event membership for just $15, which includes a cigar. If you're a beer and Broad Street Bullies kind of guy, visit Red Bell Microbrewery (which is conjoined to Holt's Cigar Store) for a fine selection of premium smokes. It's open to the public.
Across the state, the Pittsburgh Penguins offer fine dining and a comfortable haven to smoke cigars to members of the Igloo Club, which is only open to season ticket holders. The Club has food and cigar menus, available during the first and second intermission, as well as postgame. Orders may be placed prior to the intermissions and will be waiting at the members' tables. Membership runs $300, plus a $300 initiation fee.
In the Northeast Division, Ottawa Senator fans may choose death before welcoming back estranged center Alexei Yashin, but they continue to flock towards retired Senator defenseman Brad Marsh and his cigar-friendly establishment, Marshy's BBQ & Grill. If you've got a hankering for ribs, rotisserie chicken or steak, this is the place for you. But don't let the waitress carrying the cigar tray pass you by.
The Southeast Division includes the Ice Palace Arena -- home of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- the second most cigar-friendly arena in the NHL. The new XO Club has an enclosed smoke room/cigar bar that overlooks all the action on the ice through a huge window. This members-only club features personalized humidor cabinets and an indulgence bar that offers a selection of Cognacs, Ports, Scotches and other libations. Membership is $4,000 per year. If your wallet can't handle the XO, there's the new 10,000-square-foot sports bar Shots at Channelside. A fully stocked humidor is available to all. Lastly, starting this season, the outdoor smoking deck located at the Club level will feature a Martini and indulgence bar, including an assortment of fine cigars.
Also in the Southeast, the Washington Capitals have recently welcomed Nick & Stef's Steakhouse into their home at the MCI Center. Enjoy filet mignon or a mammoth porterhouse while watching the Caps on one of the numerous TV monitors. After your meal, choose a cigar from the restaurant's premium selection -- from Macanudo to Padrón. If you're looking for a beer and buffet menu, visit the F Street Sports Bar, and bring a cigar to light up at your leisure. With over 30 TV monitors, the action comes to you.
St. Louis Blues fans fearful of straying too close to a Chris Pronger bodycheck can find serenity at 14th & Clark, a casual but contemporary three-level sports bar inside the SAVVIS Center. Try their appetizers or hand-carved sandwiches, sample a St. Louis-born Budweiser but stick to the bar's Mezzanine (second) level, because that's the only area where cigar smoking is allowed.
The Northwest Division welcomes back NHL hockey in Minnesota, as the expansion Wild similarly welcomes Club level seat holders into the cigar lounge at Headwaters Bar & Restaurant located inside the Xcel Energy Center. Relax in oversized furniture, catch the game on a Plasma-screen television, then choose a cigar supplied by the Minnesota Cigar Co.
The Calgary Flames offer a smoking sanctuary to all their fans at Dutton's Canadian Lounge, located on the Club level of Canadian Airlines Saddledome. This sport lounge has 20 televisions and features a bar and a small food menu.
Moving out to the offensive-minded Pacific Division, the L.A. Kings offer their affluent fans membership in the lavish Grand Reserve Club. Entrance will cost you $10,000 per year for a member and a guest. The Grand Reserve Club features a glass-enclosed wine cellar, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and an extensive cigar lounge.
|Ball Club/Stadium Name||Ratings|
|No cigar smoking allowed on the premises.|
|Three separate smoking lounges located on the Club level, main concourse and upper concourse. Outdoor smoking patio located off the main concourse at the northwest corner of the arena.|
|Smoking permitted in the luxury suites at the discretion of the suite holder. Outdoor smoking areas located at the east and west end of the arena. Smoking permitted outside the members-only Olympia Club in the garden area.|
|No smoking inside the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Smokers can choose from the top of the 4th floor garage and outside the south entrance.|
|Smoking permitted on the Mezzanine (2nd) level of 14th & Clark, a sports bar. Designated smoking areas outside the 14th Street entrance and the garage entrance.|
|Designated smoking areas outside the west and east entrances. Cigar smoking welcomed at Dutton's Canadian Lounge on the west side at Club level.|
|Designated smoking area located at the east atrium on the ground level. The Ridgeline Restaurant permits smoking on the balcony for Club level seat holders, suite owners and seat holders located at row 1 on the glass.|
|No smoking inside the arena. Patrons are given a stamp as they exit to smoke.|
|Cigar smoking is welcomed at the cigar lounge inside Headwaters Bar & Restaurant located on the Club level. Smoking is permitted outside all entrances/exits around the arena. Smoking lounge is located on the upper level off the concourse.|
|Designated smoking areas outside gates 2, 3, 7, and 8. Executive suite holders can smoke on a balcony overlooking Abbot Street, off level 200.|
|Smoking permitted on the outdoor patio and deck area for members of the Stars Club. Designated smoking areas outside the arena.|
|Stock humidors are accessible to members of the Grand Reserve Club. Smoking is permitted on the balcony of the Arena Club for premier seat holders and suite owners. Designated smoking terraces and patios surround the arena.|
|No smoking inside.|
|Smokers must leave arena to smoke, and can only do so between periods.|
Posted October 2, 2000
Fine Cigars for a Hockey Champ
Posted October 2, 2000
Hockey and Cigars: A Photo Gallery
Copyright © 2000 Cigar Aficionado. All Rights Reserved.
Search our database of more than 17,000 cigar tasting notes by score, brand, country, size, price range, year, wrapper and more, plus add your favorites to your Personal Humidor.