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1st Choice Savings Centre

Lethbridge, AB

Home of the Lethbridge Pronghorns

3.6

3.4

1st Choice Savings Centre (map it)
4401 University Drive W
Lethbridge, AB T1K 6T5
Canada


Lethbridge Pronghorns website

1st Choice Savings Centre website

Year Opened: 2007

Capacity: 2,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Perfectly fine for minor league hockey of its kind

The Cincinnati Cyclones have been a mainstay in town since debuting in the ECHL in 1990. The team operated during its first seven seasons at the Cincinnati Gardens before relocating downtown to the U.S. Bank Arena. The team has been there ever since with the exception of a two year hiatus from 2004-2006.

Built in 1975, the 14,453 multi-purpose U.S. Bank Arena is located a few feet away from the center field entrance of Great American Ballpark. However, at the time of its construction was located one block away from the former home of both the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals Riverfront Stadium.

The elliptical-shaped venue features a white exterior and was built on concrete stilts in order not to block surrounding streets. It features connecting ramps that lead to staircases and elevators to street level parking.

The facility has had one major renovation in 1997 at a cost $14 million and included new seating, improved concourses and restrooms, and a center-hanging videoboard. However, the arena’s aesthetics have remained the same since its opening in 1975 and there have been discussions on renovating the arena once again.

One such discussion took place a few years ago that proposed updating the facility by adding a new facade, multiple points of entry, new suite level, and raising the roof to increase capacity to 18,000 seats. However, these plans never materialized and the arena has remained virtually unchanged since those 1997 renovations.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

A few recommendations to try if you are not from the area is a Skyline footlong hot dog ($7.50) that is doused with the unique style of chili created in the city and topped with mounds of shredded cheddar cheese. That same chili is also poured over nacho chips ($8.50), or on a traditional coney ($7 for a two-pack or $12 for a four-pack).

You can also wash it down with a local variety of beer choices that include Hudepohl Lager ($7.75 for a 16 ounce), Christian Moerlein ($8 a 12 ounce), or MadTree Amber ($10 on draught). However, all menu boards also feature calorie count as well as pricing.

Glier's hot mett ($5.50) is best served in its natural casing, simply charged and topped with mustard and chopped onions. If that is too simple, try a goetta dog ($5.50) that is another unique food item served only in the Queen City. Graeter's Ice Cream ($5 a scoop) is the perfect way to to end your meal of Cincinnati delights.

If you don't feel fancy, enjoy jumbo dogs ($4.75), pizza slices ($4), grilled chicken sandwiches ($5.50), or Twister Nachos that come family sized, served in a hockey helmet ($15). 7Up and RC Cola drinks are exclusive to the arena and a regular sized fountain drink will cost you $4 or $6 for a souvenir cup.

Beer prices are reasonable and feature both domestic and imports ranging from $5.50 for a regular draft to $8 for an import cans. If you don't enjoy beer, Copa Di Vino wine by the glass is offered in four varieties for $8 and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine cocktails range between $8.50-$11.50.

Atmosphere    3

The arena has one main exterior concourse that wraps around the seating area that is 14-feet wide. Attendance for Cyclones games do not usually peak at capacity, but there are a few promotional nights and weekend games that do attract much larger crowds. The team has an array of nights that appeal to both younger and older fans.

The seating area is broken into two sections (upper section is usually covered) with a middle concourse that wraps around the rink providing multiple vantage points to watch hockey or take pictures with the team's two official mascots Twister and Puckchop.

There are championship banners and retired numbers at both ends of the arena for the Cyclones; however, unlike a few other ECHL teams, there are no banners honoring or mentioning other Cincinnati minor league championship teams. A team concession stand is setup on the exterior concourse.

The All Access Bar & Grill on the 5th floor (Suite Level) provides a marvelous view of the game, plus a full-service bar and kitchen. This area feels somewhat secretive and there is a hunch that regulars enjoy this fact, but the restaurant can accommodate up to 150 guests and is included with the price of admission.

Patrons may exit the building to smoke behind section 132 where there are some great views of the city skyline (highly underrated), the Ohio River, and the many hills that makeup the landscape of both Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

Neighborhood    4

The US Bank Arena sits a few blocks away the Ballpark Village and across the river from Newport on the Levee, both excellent options before or after the game. It should also be mentioned that there are few other choice places to visit in downtown Cincinnati.

The Ballpark Village is relatively new to the scene being built outside the main entrance of Great American Ballpark. Here you will find a choice of bars and restaurants that include the Christian Moerlein Lager House, Yard House, BurgerFi, and the Jefferson Social. The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center can also be found in this area.

Take the Purple People Bridge-a pedestrian only bridge-that stretches over the Ohio River to Newport on the Levee for more entertainment destinations. Hofbrauhaus Newport, Strong's Brick Oven Pizza, and Brothers Bar & Grill are all within walking distance. The Newport Aquarium and James Taylor Park are other options if looking for family activities or looking for activities during the day.

Back in Cincinnati, 16 Bit Bar & Arcade on Walnut Street feature all pints for $4 from 4-7 PM and the video games are always free to play. A few blocks further up north is Reinghest where a rooftop bar is the perfect way to enjoy a few pints on a warm, sunny day.

Fans    3

Cyclones fans have been supportive of minor league hockey ever since the team played at the Gardens; however, many of those die-hard fans have disappeared. The Cyclones average 4,214 people per game, slightly above the ECHL average of 4,210 fans per game.

Access    4

One nice thing about older facilities is that they were built with simple designs and features. An inner concourse separates top and bottom seating levels creating perfect access to all seats inside the venue.

The main concourse is somewhat narrow, but houses all of the concession items in close proximity of one another. The only drawback is that there are not too many entrances and it could become overcrowded with heavily attended games, but with crowds around 4,000 a game, it should be easy to access at most games

Return on Investment    4

Ticket prices for games range from $17-$34, much aligned with the rest of the league. Parking ranges from $5-$10 for most garages and surface lots near the arena. The best place to park is directly downstairs from the building in the Broadway and Pete Rose Way Parking Lot for $5.

Concession prices are also reasonable, but there are at least 13 dates when 12 ounce cans of Pabst and Miller High Life are only $1. Another great investment is having dinner at the All Access Bar & Grill where a full menu and bar is somewhat less expensive than concourse choices.

Extras    3

1 star for The All Access Bar & Grill located on the 5th floor (Suite Level) of the arena. The restaurant overlooks the rink and is open to anyone with a ticket. The menu options include pub fare, and the Hat Trick Burger, topped with goetta, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and a fried onion ring, is a must have for dinner.

2 stars for the views from outside the venue over the Ohio River and the Kentucky hills. Yes, the place does scream 1970's stadia design, but Great American Ballpark is only a few feat away and the multiple bridges span the river creating for some fantastic photo opportunities.

3 stars for easy access throughout the building; this place was built for hockey as the draw and there are many great sightlines of the rink.

Final Thoughts

The U.S. Bank Arena is a still serviceable ECHL facility, however, what would a spacious, modern, and much larger facility represent for Cincinnati? Perhaps, a bit too large for the average Cyclone game, but the city should eventually get its prized facility sometime within the next decade. As for now, enjoy watching the game in an arena that is perfectly fine for minor league hockey.

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Crowd Reviews

Lethbridge Pronghorns Basketball

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

The University of Lethbridge opened its doors in 1967. Its athletic program, competing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league, were originally known as the Chinooks; the teams are now known as the Pronghorns.

In spite of being a fairly small campus, with around 8,500 students, the sports tradition runs deep at the U of L. Among the most popular teams are the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Southern Alberta is a hotbed for basketball fandom in Canada and so the Pronghorns draw consistently good crowds, as good or better than the crowds that comes out to watch the game at Canadian universities much larger than this one.

1st Choice Savings Centre began operations in January, 2007 at a cost of $31 million. The building is still shiny and modern inside and makes for a nice place to visit.

First Choice in Lethbridge

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

The University of Lethbridge opened its doors in 1967. Its athletic program, competing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league, were originally known as the Chinooks; the teams are now known as the Pronghorns.

In spite of being a fairly small campus, with around 8,500 students, the sports tradition runs deep at the U of L. Among the most popular teams are the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Southern Alberta is a hotbed for basketball fandom in Canada and so the Pronghorns draw consistently good crowds, as good as or better than what comes out to watch the game at Canadian universities much larger than this one.

1st Choice Savings Centre began operations in January, 2007 at a cost of $31 million. The building is still shiny and modern inside and makes for a nice place to visit.

Home of the RedHawks

Total Score: 2.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 1
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 3

Millett Hall was built in 1968 and is host to Miami University (Ohio) basketball as well as volleyball. It also home to the ROTC program as well as other campus events such as concerts and guest speakers.

Millett Hall seats 6,400 fans for basketball, but has seating for 9,200 for other events. The RedHawk men’s basketball program has enjoyed a .760 winning percentage in games played at home since its opening.

Miami has made the NCAA tournament seventeen times and have four Sweet Sixteen appearances. Perhaps the most famous tournament run in school history was in 1999 which featured wins over #7 seed Washington and #2 seed Utah.

Basketball has been played in Oxford, Ohio, since the 1905-06 season and two of the school’s all-time greats are Ron Harper and Wally Szczerbiak both went on to NBA careers.

Pronghorn Basketball

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

The University of Lethbridge opened its doors in 1967. Its athletic program, competing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league, were originally known as the Chinooks; the teams are now known as the Pronghorns.

In spite of being a fairly small campus, with around 8,500 students, the sports tradition runs deep at the U of L. Among the most popular teams are the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Southern Alberta is a hotbed for basketball fandom in Canada and so the Pronghorns draw consistently good crowds, as good or better than what comes out to watch the game at Canadian universities much larger than this one.

1st Choice Savings Centre began operations in January, 2007 at a cost of $31 million. The building is still shiny and modern inside and makes for a nice place to visit.

Ambush Ignite the Family Arena

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

The St. Louis Ambush of Major Arena Soccer League are a resurrection of the former franchise that played operated in the National Professional Soccer League, first in Tulsa in 1991, from 1992-2000. That organization appeared in four championship series, winning its lone title in 1995.

In 2013, the name was revived along with the colors of black and teal, which the franchise made their own during its inaugural run. Today’s franchise operates out of the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri, about a 30 minute drive from downtown St. Louis.

The arena debuted on October 3, 1999, at a cost of $27 million in order to provide an alternative for sporting events and concerts in the St. Louis metro area. In 2013, there has been over $800,000 into renovations to improve the facility by adding two large video boards, and ribbon boards in each end zone. The arena does not feature a center scoreboard above the field.

The arena has seen its share of minor league hockey, indoor football, and concerts from Taylor Swift to Judas Priest. The arena can sit 9,643 for indoor soccer games, but only seats in the lower bowl are available for Ambush games.

The arena itself is nestled close to the St. Charles River and a few miles away from the town’s historic downtown shops, bars, restaurants, and museums. The game of indoor soccer is fast pace and the Ambush provide a nice little alternative to the sporting action that takes place in downtown St. Louis.

Ambush igniting the Family Arena

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

The St. Louis Ambush of Major Arena Soccer League are a resurrection of the former franchise that operated in the National Professional Soccer League, first in Tulsa in 1991, from 1992-2000. That organization appeared in four championship series while calling the Scottrade Center home, winning its lone title during the 1994-1995 campaign.

In 2013, the name and colors of teal and black were once again revived for a new franchise to operate out of the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri, a 30 minute drive from downtown St. Louis.

The Family Arena debuted on October 3, 1999, at a cost of $27 million in order to provide an alternative for sporting events and concerts in the St. Louis metro area. In 2013, there were over $800,000 into renovations to improve the facility; two large video boards and ribbon boards were added in each end of the seating bowl.

The arena has seen its share of minor league hockey, indoor football, and concerts from Taylor Swift to Judas Priest. The arena’s capacity is officially 9,643 for indoor soccer games, but only the lower bowl is open for Ambush games.

The arena itself is nestled close to the St. Charles River and a few miles away from the town’s historic downtown shops, bars, restaurants, and museums. The game of indoor soccer is fast pace and the club provides a nice little alternative to the sporting action that takes place in downtown St. Louis.

Pronghorns Basketball

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

The University of Lethbridge opened its doors in 1967. Its athletic program, competing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league, were originally known as the Chinooks; the teams are now known as the Pronghorns.

In spite of being a fairly small campus, with around 8,500 students, the sports tradition runs deep at the U of L. Among the most popular teams are the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Southern Alberta is a hotbed for basketball fandom in Canada and so the Pronghorns draw consistently good crowds, as good or better than what comes out to watch the game at Canadian universities much larger than this one.

1st Choice Savings Centre began operations in January, 2007 at a cost of $31 million. The building is still shiny and modern inside and makes for a nice place to visit.

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Local Food & Drink

The Zoo  (map it!)

4401 University Dr

Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4

403-317-5037

http://ulsu.ca/?p=4598

Mojo's Pub & Grill  (map it!)

550 University Dr W

Lethbridge, AB T1J 4T3

403-329-0123

http://mojospub.ca/

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