BB&T Center – Florida Panthers

by | Jan 4, 2017 | Chris Green, Hockey, NHL | 0 comments

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The Rising Red

During recent seasons, the Florida Panthers were known in the news for being the team that had a franchise-low for attendance. In addition, they experienced the smallest season-opener crowd in franchise history. The few fans that showed up could carry on conversations in the upper deck that could be clearly heard in the lower bowl. However, an injection of young talent and a streamlined stadium experience has led to a growing crowd and an even better game day atmosphere. A new logo and a new feel make it a different experience than that of the past.

BB&T Center is located in Sunrise, Florida, more than 30 miles north of downtown Miami. The arena has been the home of the Panthers since it opened in 1998, and has a capacity 19,250 when it is aligned for hockey.

Food & Beverage 4

As with any sports arena, food and drinks include the standards of burgers, fries, hot dogs, and chicken fingers. However, the 2016 season saw a complete renovation of the food offerings at the BB&T Center, adding specialty items scattered throughout the arena.

One of the biggest draws for beverages is the Tim Horton’s coffee carts in the arena, a must-have for coffee lovers and hockey fans alike. There is also a candy-only station and an all-kosher food station in addition to the traditional fare available. Premium sandwiches and crab fries from northeast favorite Chickie’s & Pete’s also populate the menu.

However, a buffalo chicken cheesesteak, while amazing and delicious, will cost you $15, not including a drink or side of fries. Pricing is higher than you would pay at a restaurant or store, but that won’t come as a shock to most sports fans. The bottomless soda that comes in a collectible cup for $11 is a must-have for large families who don’t mind sharing a drink and running down to refill it throughout the evening.

Atmosphere 3

Panthers games have experienced a mix of atmospheres. The Panthers draw a solid crowd, when in years past, it would have remained relatively empty. The fans at Florida Panthers games are also becoming more knowledgeable, aided in no small part by the influx of exciting young talent to the team with grizzled veterans.

The second factor to a game day experience is the visiting fans. South Florida is a haven for Canadian snowbirds who come down for the winter. While here, they pack the BB&T Center whenever the Jets, Canucks, Canadiens, Flames, Maple Leafs, Senators, or Oilers come to town, creating a near-home arena effect for the visitors. Similar crowds arrive for Bruins, Rangers, and Flyers games, making for a unique atmosphere.

The arena itself has also had minor makeovers in the past year. The new logo is everywhere, and things like pylons and doorways have been decorated in red wrapping, as well, adding to the feel that this is the home of the Florida Panthers.

Neighborhood 4

The BB&T Center is situated in a great area of South Florida. Nestled literally on the edge of the Everglades, the other side of the arena is bordered by Sawgrass Mills Mall, full of shopping and eating options. Several nice neighborhoods also surround the area, with homes always looking well-manicured and roads remaining clean and clear. The people are friendly and welcoming.

When looking for a place to stay, hotels are easy to find both in the immediate surrounding area, as well as several exits to the north, south, and east on either I-75 or I-595. Restaurants at the mall across the street include the likes of California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory, as well as simpler locations like Chili’s and Steak ‘n Shake.

Fans 3

Having to deal with many of the aforementioned issues, fans in South Florida are among the worst when it comes to being fair-weather fans. However, the Panthers are unique as they have a small but extremely passionate fan base and group of season ticket holders that buy into the team wholeheartedly. They buy every new jersey, every new gimmick the team comes out with (beware of the cow bells from the late 2000’s PR push), and they scream as loud as anyone in the league, when they show up. The recent influx of talent and subsequent winning streaks has also begun to re-attract some of the fans who had begun to lose the faith and interest in the Panthers.

Thankfully, winning solves many problems, and as the fans continue to take notice of the franchise again, they will fill the seats once again, making for a rowdy game day crowd thriving for quality hockey.

Access 5

Getting to the BB&T Center is very easy. The arena is situated literally feet from one of the biggest highway interchanges in South Florida, with I-75 and I-595 meeting, giving equal access from Miami to the south, Fort Lauderdale to the east, Fort Myers to the west, and Palm Beach to the north. Additionally, there is an exit right off of the highway that literally empties into the parking lot of the arena. Parking on site can run upwards of $20, but it is plentiful. Thanks to a corporate partnership, if you happen to be driving a Lexus, you’ll get free parking onsite right in front of the stadium entrance.

Return on Investment 4

For the average fan looking to tick off a stadium from their list of NHL arenas, BB&T Center is a decent one to visit. The Panthers are hit-or-miss in terms of on-ice performance, but lately the trend has been moving upward. While food may be a little too pricey for most, the quality of the on-ice product is on the rise. There is also a lot to see at the games, which makes the atmosphere a lot more fun than it has been in the past.

Extras 5

During pre-game, all fans are allowed to visit the ice level seats to watch practices for both teams. This can be quite an experience for someone who can only afford tickets to the upper level. Some fans also may get a free puck from time to time.

Throughout the game, there are entertaining games played by fans, and the in-arena host gives away prize packs or tickets to an upcoming concert.

Fans can also get some quality throwback uniforms and team merchandise in the old-time sports store located in the lower concourse. Right next to that is the Den of Honor, a hall of fame of sorts for the Panthers to honor the greats who have passed through the team and to help the fans relive some of the team’s most memorable and influential moments.

If you want to see how a pre-game show is taped, fans can get up close to the pre-show on the outside patio right in front of the entrance.

If you want to relax outside and sample a cigar, there is an outside patio on the north side of the arena that features beautiful shade trees and lighting with patio furniture that has a cigar stand by the doorway. This lets you live the Miami lifestyle with relative ease.

Finally, beginning with the 2016 season, the Panthers have added live musicians between periods in the bar area open to all fans in attendance, situated above the team store in the main lobby of the BB&T Center.

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, the BB&T Center is family friendly and provides a quaint atmosphere. The last few seasons are proving that this quaint atmosphere can also swell into a roaring crowd, thanks to successful records. In addition, a better game day experience has led to a more welcoming environment. The Panthers are definitely on the upswing, and a visit to the BB&T Center will certainly reflect that trend.


Food and Drink Recommendations

Stevie B’s Rib Cafe

141 Weston Road

Weston, FL 33326

(954) 349-6636

Entertainment Recommendations

Sawgrass Mills Mall

12801 W. Sunrise Blvd.

Sunrise, FL 33323

(954) 846-2300

Bonnet House Museum Museum and Gardens

900 North Birch Rd.

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

(954) 563-5393

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!

Lodging Recommendations


Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale-Sunrise

3003 North University Dr

Sunrise, FL 33322

(954) 748-7000


DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Sunrise-Sawgrass Hills

13400 W. Sunrise Blvd.

Sunrise, FL 33323

 (954) 851-1020

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!

Crowd Reviews

Latest Crowd Reviews

Date: 2017-11-14 21:47:19
By: Meg Minard

Total Score

Access is easy: in and out - right off the highway. Parking (20) was more expensive than the price I paid for Seat Geek tickets (17 - first level behind the goal - Club Access). The game was great with just enough activity between periods. Music was not too loud to be obtrusive it was just right to keep fans engaged. Fans who were there supported their team extremely well. The one downside: It just got too cold in the arena. So when you go, remember to bring layers of clothing.


Stadium Info

BB&T Center
1 Panther Pkwy
Sunrise, FL 33323

Florida Panthers website

BB&T Center website

Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 17,040

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