You may remember all the way back in October, I started a little series called “Ryan’s College Hockey Stadium Tour” by venturing to the Air Force Academy for a game. In said piece, I noted that the next stop would be World Arena for a Colorado College game.
It only took me three months to scratch that one off the list.
And it really only happened now because of a stroke of luck. One of my coworkers sent out a mass email said she’d be out of town during the weekend, and was giving up her two tickets to last Friday’s CC-Miami game. I figured I’d throw my name in because I wanted to watch Miami lose and then I remember this little venture that I set out to accomplish. I got the tickets and it was on!
A little side note, I don’t know if this is because CC has been among the five worst teams in college hockey this year or if it’s regularly like this, but tickets for upper bowl behind then net were $9 a piece (I went back Saturday). And the arena was, at best, only at half capacity, so you could really sit wherever you wanted.
Anyway, as I mentioned in the Air Force piece, World Arena is literally right across the street from where I work. Parking for games is $5, but since I have a USA Hockey parking pass, I just parked at the office and walked three minutes over there. That doesn’t apply to really anyone else reading this so it’s not really relevant, but I included it anyway because it makes me smile.
It’s nowhere near the CC campus, which is pretty small (only about 2,000 kids are enrolled there, probably because it costs $60k a year to attend). OK, it’s like an eight-minute drive away, but you get the point. It’s off campus. They actually have a rink on campus, but I have no idea what goes on there. I don’t think CC even regularly practices there. I’ve never been there, but quickly browsing pictures of it online, it doesn’t look like there is any seating there, which would explain why they never play there but that’s about it. Whatever.
Unlike the Cadet Ice Arena, World Arena is pretty simple to get to. It’s right off I-25 about three miles from downtown, and there are multiple streets to get there once you’re off the highway. So getting there and parking at the office wasn’t hard. Leaving was another story.
The first thing you realize about World Arena is it was not built to be a college hockey arena. It’s a multi-purpose entertainment venue that CC just happens to play at. Like, Aziz Ansari is doing a show there this week. It’s terrible for atmosphere, but it’s pretty cool for watching a game.
The concourse looks nothing like the BGSU Ice Arena. It looks, quite frankly, more like an NHL arena (OK, an AHL arena). There’s a bunch of concession stands, food carts, and, my favorite part, beer! I ate a large dinner before each game so I wouldn’t be tempted buy the food, so I didn’t even think to look at prices. At the concession stands, they had your typical arena food: pretzels, nachos, fries, etc. But at one of the bar-type things, they had an Asian noodles stand that smelt incredible. Like chicken stir fry and stuff like that.
As I kind of alluded to above, CC sucks this year, so there weren’t a ton of people in the stands. There was no discernable student section, probably for a multitude of reasons. One, CC is bad. Two, the rink is off campus. Three, the majority of CC students don’t seem like the types who enjoy sports. Four, did I mention how small CC’s student population is? Even if you got every CC undergrad to one of these games, it would only fill about a fourth of World Arena’s 8,000-seat capacity.
For what it’s worth, one of my coworkers who I went with swears that CC-Denver games, when both teams are good, are nuts. I guess I’m just going to have to take his word for it.
Since it was built to be a multi-purpose arena more and not just a college hockey arena, the seating is a lot more plentiful and spread out than it is at BG or at Air Force. I mentioned the size above, but it does feel like you’re watching an AHL game. The crowd got into it at appropriate times, and threw around some chants that I couldn’t make out. It wasn’t a bad atmosphere; it was just different, less intense. It was more so a place you would go to hang out than you would to get rowdy.
One thing you definitely notice right away is the Olympic-sized ice sheet. Fun fact, I hadn’t stepped into World Arena until earlier that week when I was watching the U.S. Paralympic Sled Team practice. Until then, I had no idea that World Arena had the large ice. You kind of get a feel for it when you’re on the ice, but when you’re looking from above (as you can see in the picture), it really hits you how much larger the ice is.
As for the gameplay, didn’t really pay attention to too much of either game. Friday we end up hanging out in the concourse for most of the second and all of the third period with people from the office. CC won Friday, 4-1, and Miami won Saturday, 6-1. I could definitely see, though, why Miami has struggled this year. Other than Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik, who are both absurd, no one on the rest of the team stood out. Backup Jay Williams did play a pretty good game Saturday, though.
Moving around in the arena was no problem at all; there was hardly a line for beer (probably because we would get it during gameplay) and there was never a line in the bathroom. But, again, I suppose that’s what happens when there’s only 3,000 people, tops, in an arena that can hold 8,000.
As I hinted at above, getting out was the tricky part. Not because the traffic at the arena was terrible, but because everyone and their brother was trying to get on the highway. The highway entrance is already congested enough when I’m leaving work. It’s flat out bonkers when everyone was leaving. Friday I just got mad and took city streets home. Saturday I went up one light further, did a U-turn and got on I-25 from the other direction. Much quicker!
In all, it was an OK place to watch a game. It’s much more a type of atmosphere that you’d enjoy if you went with a few friends and just hung out the whole time, which is what we did which is probably why I enjoyed it. When you hear people complain that the BG games don’t have enough of a “family atmosphere” because of some of the student chants, I feel that this type of atmosphere is the end game they want to achieve.
My take: don’t do it. The rowdiness of the BGSU Ice Arena is what makes the games fun for the students. So there’s swearing? Whatever. I find the concept of “bad words” dumb anyway. Take the bite out of the crowd, you take away that home-ice advantage and create a situation where a lot of people aren’t even paying attention. It certainly didn’t feel like CC had a huge home-ice advantage either night. Just my two cents.
So yes, Falcon fans, the BGSU Ice Arena is still the best crowd I have experienced. That list is five strong now too!
The definite cool part about CC games, though, is they play in the NCHC, so the majority of games are against teams I’ve actually heard of. That’s being harsh, but you get the point. I’d rather watch a bad CC team play Western Michigan or North Dakota than I would an OK Air Force team play Bentley or Canisius.
In comparing it to BG, it’s kind of hard to do because of all of the factors at play. You’re playing in a rink that’s not indented solely for college hockey, and the home team is a small, private liberal arts school, so the crowd was a lot older (basically the townies, to throw it into comparable terms) if we were to try and factor average ages. Can’t comment on the food there, but there was beer. Apparently there’s beer at BG games now, too. But with a bunch of breweries in Colorado, it was good beer. Not plastic bottles of Bud Light. The traffic wasn’t bad once I figured out how to maneuver through it, and the parking prices are a push. From what little I know about ticket prices at BG, our seats were actually cheaper, although it was a lot higher up than you could sit at BG. Still not bad seats, though.
If you ever find yourself in Colorado Springs, I would definitely recommend checking it out, definitely a lot more than I would an Air Force game. The prices for food and drink can add up, but that’s true for just about anywhere. The $9 ticket is definitely hard to beat.
Next stop on Ryan’s college stadium tour: Magness Arena for a Denver University game. The odds of that happening are pretty much nil. But it’s still fun to hope.