How cold is an hockey arena
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How Cold Are Ice Hockey Arenas? What To Wear 

Are you planning on going to your first ice hockey game? Or are you a regular attendee of ice hockey games? Whichever category you fall under, an important thing you should consider when attending a live match is the clothing you wear. This is because ice hockey arenas are very cold and stay at a low stable temperature range throughout the game. 

It doesn’t matter if this is your first time or your hundredth time attending a live match, you could always learn something new. Continue reading hereunder for tips and tricks that can make you feel as cosy as possible in an ice hockey arena.

Average Temperature of an Ice Hockey Arena 

Ice Hockey arenas are cold in order to maintain the ice quality for skaters. The problem is that this may be too cold for some spectators who may not be able to handle the low temperatures. 

To fix this, the NHL has a fixed temperature range for its arenas. Hockey arena technicians regulate the temperature of two main areas of the arena, those being, the temperature of the ice and the temperature of the stadium.

So the question still is… how cold are Ice Hockey arenas? The technicians that control the stadium’s ambient temperature ensure it is within the range of sixty to sixty-five Fahrenheit (60°F – 65°F). This is an equivalent of 15°C to 18°C.

The problem here is that this temperature applies to only the NHL and other professional hockey arenas, as recreational arenas (local arenas) are known to be colder. Local and outdoor hockey arenas can drop as low as 55F (12°C). 

Why Are Ice Hockey Arena So Cold?

As I stated earlier, Ice Hockey Arenas are kept cold to maintain the ice quality. But what does this mean?

Allow me to clarify! Ice is formed at 32F (0°C). However, good ice for hockey needs to have an average thickness of 1 inch and a temperature of 18F-24F (-8°C to -4°C). If the ice temperature goes above this range, it will lead to bad skating ice.

Bad ice lowers the speed of the game and makes it hard for players to complete passes. It also leads to irregularities on the surface of the ice and when it melts can sometimes form a puddle.

The keeper of the New York Rangers in 1991, John Vanbiesbrouck, experienced a situation like this in a match against the LA Kings. When recalling the event he said the ice looked like a puddle.

The ice quality at recreational centres is usually of higher quality than in professional ice hockey arenas. This is because recreational arenas are not as crowded as arenas in the NHL and are therefore colder.

Before the start of a game, the arena is often at the lowest acceptable temperature (60F or 15C). But why?

With about 18,000 spectators in an arena, the temperature can warm up really fast. Therefore, the technicians keep it low so that when the crowd causes the temperature to rise, it won’t surpass the limit. This also allows them to easily regulate the changes more efficiently. 

What To Wear To Ice Hockey Games 

Now, what type of clothing should you wear when coming to an ice hockey arena? The answer to this question depends on the type of arena. 

Here’s what I mean, if you are going to a professional arena, you will not need the same clothing as when coming to a recreational arena. Typically, professional hockey arenas are usually warmer because they have smarter air cooling systems, a large crowd which warms up the air and a higher temperature range (60F to 65F). 

Just a light jacket, hoodie, jumper, cardigan or sweatshirt (your team’s sweatshirt if you have one) will be enough. If you don’t have a team sweatshirt you can easily purchase one at any of the stands around the arena or online, from the NHL Official Website. As a rule of thumb, you can put on clothing similar to what you will wear to your average cinema when you know it will be cold.

For example, a common clothing pattern for both males and females is wearing jean trousers, a t-shirt and your team’s sweatshirt over the t-shirts. It’s simple and will make you easily blend in with the crowd.

The problem is that this does not work for non-professional hockey arenas because their air conditioning system isn’t as sophisticated, and usually has a lower attendance. In cases like this, a thick jacket will be a better pick with hand and head warmers.

In addition, a blanket can be useful when you take your children along with you. It will help provide the extra heat children need while in the areas. Blankets can also be used when the chair in the arena is hard and ice-cold. Laying a blanket on the chair before sitting down will give a little insulation.


  • Clothing depends on the type of arena;
  • Professional hockey arenas do not require heavy clothing as recreational arenas; and
  • A pair of jean trousers and an ice hockey sweatshirt is a common dress code. 

How To Keep Warm In Ice Hockey Arena

There are several tips to ensure that you don’t succumb to the cold atmosphere in hockey arenas. Some of them are :

Wear Clothing that can Conserve your Body Heat

  • Preferably do not go with a t-shirt, light clothing, armless or anything that exposes your arms.

Do not Wear Shorts to Ice Hockey Arenas

  • This is because the legs are more vulnerable to cold than other parts of the body.
  • Exposing the legs to cold will make your body temperature drop faster. 

Take a Blanket as a Backup Measure

  • Ice hockey games could take over 2 hours, and during this period, the body temperature can drop drastically.
  • Taking a blanket can be a lifesaver giving you the ability to enjoy the game while feeling cosy.

Take Something Hot With You

  • A good trick to keeping warm in the coldest of arenas is to have a hot drink.
  • Some areas in the stadium have stands that offer a variety of food items and drinks.
  • Some of the drinks may range from coffee to tea and hot chocolate beverages.
  • Purchasing a cup of hot beverage can help your body warm up.

Seat Farther Away from the Ice and Ice Condition Systems

  • The closer you are to the ice the colder the air around you. This is because the ice has lower temperatures of 18°F to 24°F when compared to the auditorium temperature.
  • Also, it is a fact that cold air goes down while warm air goes up. This means staying in the top back seats gives you a better chance of staying warm.
  • The air conditioning system is also distributed around the arena, when picking a seat, try and ensure you are not directly under an air conditioning system.

Sit Close to the Crowd

  • Seating with other hockey fans will increase the air temperature through the collective heat emanating from their bodies. This provides extra warmth to keep you comfy.

Caps or Head Warmers

  • In certain cases, as in outdoor arenas, a cap, scarf or head warmer can really come in handy. It provides warmth to the head and ears.

How Do Ice Hockey Arenas Regulate The Temperature?

Every ice hockey arena is fitted with pipes and HVAC systems to keep the temperature low and constant. It doesn’t matter if an ice hockey tournament is in Summer or Winter, arena temperatures do not vary. 

What does this mean? 

During the winter season, the temperature outside the arena is not usually different from the temperature inside the arena. Most times it is warmer inside the arenas than outside. In some cases, the temperature during winter is usually on the negative celsius scale and the NHL recommendation is within 15-18 degrees on the celsius scale. 

In scenarios like this, not much air conditioning is needed to maintain the ice, and heaters and set up to keep the air around the seats at 60F-65F. 

The same can’t be said for summer when outside the arena is much warmer than inside. Technicians usually have to amp up the air conditioning system on the ice to ensure that the ice does not melt.

Here’s an interesting tip, it does matter if you are going to an ice hockey arena during the summer or winter, it will be cold. Therefore ensure that you take along a sweatshirt or jacket. 

Why Are Ice Hockey Players Not Cold?

The temperature around the ice rink is indeed colder than around the arena, however, the player doesn’t feel it because of the nature of the game. Since players are constantly skating and fast-moving, they generate enough heat to keep themselves warm

An added advantage is the type of clothes the players wear. Their gear is made of Kevlar, glass and carbon, capable of keeping them warm on the freezing ice.


One thing is sure, in an ice hockey arena you will have the experience of your life. The feeling of watching a live hockey game is unrivalled. The energy that resonates in the crowd is unreal. If you plan on attending your first live ice hockey game, I wish you good luck. Stay warm and stay safe! Thank you for reading.

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