||BLUE CROSS ARENA --- ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
USRT VISIT -- March, 1999
This is one of the venerable old franchises of the AHL, and the old "War
Memorial", which opened in the mid 50s has been the home of the Amerks
ever since. The arena was given a huge three phase facelift from '96-'98, and
the result is a stunning glass atrium entrance lobby, glass and brick exterior
facades, new seating, suites, video scoreboard and stat boards, and food
courts. While sparkling and new in most places, the worn old infrastructure
shows up in other parts of the building. Superb downtown location and very
passionate and knowledgeable hockey fans.
||VAN ANDEL ARENA --- GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS
USRT VISIT -- October, 2004
The crown jewel of a sparkling and vibrant downtown "Heartside District", the
12,000 seat Van Andel Arena opened in 1996, and houses not only the AHL
Griffins, but also the Grand Rapids Rampage of Arena Football. Lots of
restaurants, clubs and hotels within easy walking distance. Tree lined
cobblestone streets surround the venue, and a warmly lit glass facade lobby
serves as the main entrance. The seating bowl itself is a bit dark and austere,
best place to watch the games is from the "Griffs Nests", two party decks with
table side seating and a great view of the action.
||COCA COLA COLISEUM --- TORONTO, ONTARIO
USRT VISITS -- February, 2004, Toronto Roadrunners
February, 2014, Toronto Marlies
Make one thing clear - Toronto is not a hockey town, it is a LEAFS town. The old
AHL Roadrunners learned that the hard way when $40MM was committed to
gut and renovate the old Coliseum on the CNE grounds, and the only sellouts
they could muster here was when the Leafs AHL farm team came to town. The
Roadrunners have vacated, and the building now houses the Leafs' farm team,
the Toronto Marlies. The venue? Stately and classic exterior with original
facade and towers kept intact. Interior concourses and seating bowl are bright,
but bland and soulless.
||VETERANS MEMORIAL ARENA --- BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK
BINGHAMTON SENATORS (now BINGHAMTON DEVILS)
USRT VISIT -- January, 2004
This arena is by far the smallest venue in the AHL, with seating for just over
5000, so chances are that on most, nights, the building will be full to the rafters
and making plenty of noise to boot. Located in downtown Binghamton, the
building is definitely old school, with old fashioned dot matrix scoreboard,
single concourse, spartan press area. The Baby Sens have only been in town
for a few seasons, but hockey has been played here for decades, the old AHL
Rangers and UHL BC Icemen still well remembered around these parts.
||BELL MTS PLACE --- WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
USRT VISIT -- January, 2005
With a great location in the midst of bustling downtown Winnipeg, big league
design and amenities, state of the art scoreboard and LED ribbon boards, and
capacity of over 15,000 seats, Winnipeg has made a dramatic statement that
they belong in the ranks of major sports cities. Great food selection in the
building, and restaurants for casual diners and premium seat holders are right
in the arena. Plenty more dining choices within walking distance, but bundle up,
because it is c-c-c-cold here in wintertime!
||MASSMUTUAL CENTER-- SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
USRT VISIT -- February, 2005
Springfiled os one of the original AHL cities, and the MassMutual Center,
located right in the middle of downtown Springfield, is attached to a massive
convention center. Hockey in Springfield actually predates the AHL, with a
history going all the way back to 1926.
||XL CENTER --- HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
USRT VISIT -- February, 2005
The old NHL Hartford Whalers used to play here. Their banners are still proudly
displayed in the rafters, but the Whalers’ signature anthem, “Brass Bonanza” is
nowhere to be heard. This arena has all the feel and electricity of a big league
venue, with over 16,000 seats, two decks and skyboxes high up near the roof.
The Wolf Pack share the arena with the University of Connecticut Huskies, one
of the country's premiere mens and womens basketball programs. The Civic
Center used to be anchored to a shopping mall, but has since been
demolished, replaced by an exciting office and retail complex, and a 34 story
apartment tower, all connected to the arena. Great location, in the middle of a
bustling and vibrant city center.
||ONCENTER --- SYRACUSE, NEW YORK
USRT VISIT: April, 2005
Musty, old, creaky… only way to describe the Oncenter, which is short for
“Onondaga County War Memorial Center.” And plaques, exhibits and displays
commemorating the men and women of the military are everywhere, and we
mean EVERYWHERE. The seating bowl is built in a horseshoe style
configuration with a theatre style stage in one end zone, a high barrel shaped
roof and just one modern touch – a four sided video scoreboard. Two claims to
fame for this venue – the Syracuse Nationals won the 1955 NBA championship
here, and… some scenes from the famed movie “Slapshot” were filmed on this
||GIANT CENTER --- HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA
USRT VISIT: March, 2006
The Hershey Bears are the AHL's oldest team and most storied, and for an
entire generation played at the Hersheypark Arena. The building still stands,
and if you walk into it you will feel like you've stepped into a time warp, with its
very steep seating pitch and old time hand operated scoreboards on each end
zone wall. But today the team plays at the sparkling Giant Center, a perfect sized
minor league arena with all the modern amenities, a sparkling seating bowl
and historical touches everywhere. And the venue is adjacent to the famed
Hershey''s Chocolate World and theme park.
||MOHEGAN SUN ARENA AT CASEY PLAZA --- WILKES BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA
USRT VISIT: February, 2008
On the south side from downtown Wilkes Barre and adjacent to I-81, Wachovia
Arena at Casey Plaza is located next to a huge shopping mall and even more
plazas and retail outlets and chain restaurants surround the place. Opened in
1999 when the AHL came to town, the arena concourses look a bit worn and
dated and the 8000 seat has too much concrete and not enough color. But local
fans here really pack the place, and are very passionate about their team. One
of the most electric atmospheres in the AHL.
||WEBSTER BANK ARENA - BRIDGEPORT CONNECTICUT
BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS
USRT VISIT: February, 2008
Harbor Yard is actually a two venue complex - the arena and a 5300 minor
league ballpark right next door sporting a nice view of - the harbor of course.
The arena opened in 2002 and houses the AHL Tigers as well as home for
Fairfield University. Nice carpeted concourses with cozy seating and dining
areas, a pub style restaurant in one corner above the seating bowl, and rail
seating in one end zone are nice features of the place. Scoreboard here doesn't
hang above the center, but can be found stretching high above the sidelines.
Team has very poor fan support.
||ADIRONDACK BANK CENTER - UTICA, NEW YORK
USRT VISIT: January, 2014
Ordinary looking from the outside, but very special on the inside. The
concourses are replete with vintage murals and photos of Utica streetscapes,
historic buildings, and pay homage to the signature Utica Club Brewery, a
mainstay of this region since the 1850s. An intimate and noisy seating bowl
has modern scoreboard amenities, yet retains and old school charm. Try the
Saranac, Uitca Club and Adirondack Lager brews!
||BMO HARRIS BANK CENTER - ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS
ROCKFORD ICE HOGS
USRT VISIT: April, 2014
Surrounded by a gritty industrial city and a somewhat dog eared downtown
core, the BMO Harris Bank Center is a pretty shiny structure located right in the
middle of it all. Fans here are pretty loud and intense, very proud of their team
that hasn't played here for very long. Concourses are replete with wide variety of
food choices and concession options.
||ALLSTATE ARENA --- ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS
USRT VISIT: April, 2014
What was first called the Rosemont Horizon was actually built for the once
powerhouse DePaul University men's basketball program, and then the once
IHL and now AHL Wolves took up residence. Arena doesn't look all that big, but
actually seats over 16,000 for hockey, thanks to long rows and tight seats.
Parking and concessions totally major league prices, here, in the midst of a
bland, suburban bedroom community outside of Chicago.
||PPL CENTER - ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
LEHIGH VALLEY PHANTOMS
USRT VISIT: December, 2014
Allentown's downtown arena doesn't even look like an arena; the venue is part
of a multi use structure featuring ground floor retail and restaurants, loft
apartments, fitness center and office space. Inside, the arena is simply elegant,
with swank club concourses and two levels of suites, nice fan amenities and
great concession selection. Check out Chickie and Pete's, the signature sports
bistro located right in the facility and opening out on West Hamilton St.
||QUICKEN LOANS ARENA - CLEVELAND, OHIO
LAKE ERIE MONSTERS
USRT VISIT: February, 2015
Looking for a head spinning hokcey history? Look no farther than Cleveland,
where teams have been sighted in the old International Hockey League, two
seasons in the WHA, a previous AHL run and even the old Cleveland Barons in
the NHL. The Lake Monsters are the junior tenants in this building, playing
second fiddle to the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers, and that is why the arena has all
of a big league feel, including a monster sized new video board.
||WELLS FARGO ARENA - DES MOINES, IOWA
USRT VISIT: March, 2015
The AHL returned to this arena in 2014, after a [previous run as the Iowa Chops
from 2006 to 2009. Wells Fargo Arena is right downtown, with splendid views of
the river and the lit up bridges right from the arena's concourses. There are
plenty of bars, patios, and dining options all located around the arena and a few
blocks to the south, which makes this a good destination venue.
||STOCKTON ARENA - STOCKTON. CALIFORNIA
USRT VISIT: November, 2014
The way the exterior of this arena is floodlit at night offers the first "wow" factor
when approaching the building, which is surrounded by a park, a hotel and a
minor league ballpark. Inside, the ice girls and team mascot keeps the raucous
crowd into the action. Stockton joins the AHL in 2015 after a stint in the ECHL.
||RABOBANK ARENA - BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA
USRT VISIT: December, 2016
The most striking feature of this building is Centennial Plaza and the distinctive
colored fountains which makes for a pleasant gathering space. Check out the
concessions - every food item is labeled with a calorie count so fans can keep
track of the belly busters.
||VALLEY VIEW CASINO CENTER - SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
SAN DIEGO GULLS
USRT VISIT: October, 2017
This old school arena has held up nicely after more than half a century, and
was the once home to not just one but two NBA franchises back in the day. The
venue is located in the middle of an industrial wasteland, hardly the scene you'll
find in San Diego travel brochures. Hugh marks for the great concession menu.