The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum has been a symbol of Fort Wayne, Indiana since 1952 and is home to the Ft. Wayne Komets. In 2002, the coliseum underwent a massive renovation that raised its roof 41 feet, but did not detract from the buildings’ old-school hockey charm. Regardless of what league the Komets participate in, the fans come out in support, as Ft. Wayne continues to rank in the top five of all minor league hockey attendance. The coliseum holds 10,500 for hockey.
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The coliseum features items such as pork belly mac and cheese (for $3 no less), pulled pork topped french fries, popcorn chicken, and massive burritos and nachos ($6.50 each) with your choice of toppings. You can also find hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, ice cream and burgers throughout the concourse. The 58 BBQ Stand has a friendly crew that is willing to talk to you between periods about their items. Chef Chris Zimmerman was willing to talk about a few of his creations, while the folks at Bandindo's, Coliseum Creamery, and Hoosier beer were equally as friendly.
Prices are reasonable for beer, between $5.50 to $7 depending on bottles, draught or craft beer. The best time to go is just before the intermission when the Komet faithful are still glued to their seats, but as soon as the buzzer sounds, expect to wait in long lines. You won't be disappointed, since there is enough variety to satisfy an abundance of tastes and for many of us, that is all we want when we attend a sporting event.
The concourses are desolate during game time as most fans are in their seats. The old cement floors and walls of the coliseum are vapid, but quickly come alive during intermission with people lined up waiting for food and sporting multiple Komet jerseys. You will have to squeeze through the crowds of the 15 foot wide concourse, but this should be a welcome sight, since this is what an old arena should offer to the casual fan.
However, when your team has been playing hockey for over 60 years, one would expect to see a few more pictures or artifacts throughout the building. After all, this is an iconic arena that has probably seen its share of hockey memories; why not share that with a new generation of fans that may be unfamiliar with such traditions? There are a few trophies at the ice cream shop and a list of retired jerseys and team banners hanging above the rafters. In the end, the coliseum is too good of a place not have a few more memories adorning the walls as a sign of both respect and prosperity.
The coliseum is in an interesting part of town that presents itself with copious enigmas. For all means, it is safe and full of retail shops and restaurants. There is a Ruby Tuesday within walking distance and the Glenbrook Square Shopping Mall is located a half a mile from the arena. With that being said, you will also pass a few pawn shops and gentlemen's clubs along the way, which being from New Jersey, felt as if you were in a seedy side of town. However, I quickly disperse such logic and realize that I am in Ft. Wayne and perhaps there is no need for alarm. This might just be synergy at its best, since there are few really good restaurants within the vicinity.
Baker's Street should satisfied one's impeccable cravings with lobster, steak, escargot and fine wines in an elegant ambiance. If you are looking for something a little affordable head on over to Bandido's Mexican Restaurant or the Liberty Diner, homemade food that the locals spoke highly about. Then there is Don Hall's Drive Inn and the Guesthouse Grill that have been staples in the community since 1946. These are my suggestions, but if you want to pick from an array of chain establishments, be my guest; however, you will be missing out a really great coney dog at Mr. Coney's on Coldwater Street.
The fans at the coliseum are well behaved and subtle throughout the contest. They live and die with the black and orange, but with the 2013 team about to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002, they were rather calm for the 9,000 in attendance. I have been told when it is an important or playoff game, the noise decibels can become alarmingly loud; loud enough, that press row is unable to hear whistles on the ice.
The fans have their chants after every Komets' goal and every game begins with the affable Guns N' Roses classic "Welcome to the Jungle", a song that never seems to grow old at hockey arenas. When you have a little old lady yell at you for being in her way of the game, you know that these hockey aficionados are here to watch the game first and be entertained secondly.
The coliseum is conveniently located off of I-69 or I-469 and is easy to find with numerous signs off the highway and the local roads. The vast parking lot makes it easy for everyone to find a spot and traffic moves swiftly after the contest. Its location north of downtown makes it ideal for out of town fans, especially for rivals from Kalamazoo, Michigan, or Toledo, Ohio.
Parking is $4 in the coliseum's lot and it is the only place to park, preferred parking can run you upwards of $8. You will not be able to find street or off-site parking and it is not needed. The parking lot is easy, safe, well lit and convenient for fans and at $4 a small price to pay. For all of your cheap skates, you are out of luck, shell out the $4 and be thankful that it isn't more.
Adult ticket prices range from $12-$25, which is not too bad for minor league hockey and when kids' tickets begin at a mere $7, you might not be able to go wrong with a night out with the family. I did notice at the ticket booth that there were a few people waiving free tickets to the first taker, but many were lined up at the ticket booth or will call windows.
When walking the concourse you are treated to the Komets' radio announcer Bob Chase who finished his 60th year of broadcasting in 2013. Chase began with the team at the start of their second season in 1953. It is the type of radio broadcasting voice that you just do not hear as much these days and when it is echoed throughout the coliseum, you have to take notice.
Established back in 1952, the Fort Wayne Komets have existed continuously longer than every club in North America, outside of the NHL's Original Six and the Hershey Bears of the AHL. With longevity like that you would expect a loyal fan base, and an electric atmosphere. And you would be absolutely correct.
The home of the Komets is the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. They share the venue with the IPFW Mastodons and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBDL. This building has also been home to the Fort Wayne Pistons (now Detroit Pistons), as well as indoor football and soccer teams. It is an ultimate multi-use facility, but hockey is definitely the high point.
Food & Beverage 3
Prices went up slightly. They had a stand selling flavored nuts that was doing a brisk business. No other food item really stood out. I was unable to check on other items as the concourse was very crowded.
In the game that I saw, fans were starting to leave about halfway through the period. Toledo was starting to pull away at that point. It was also New Year's Eve, so maybe they were going to another engagement. There was one fight in the game Henley - Oreskovic, which ended with an Oreskovic takedown. They still have the ads on the ice.
The shopping mall and the chain restaurants are still there. However, the Hooters went out of business. There is a strip club next door to it.
There were at least 8,000 fans in attendance (over 10,000 was announced). There were plenty of fans wearing orange and black throughout the building.
The $4 price tag was reasonable as there is no nearby street parking. The concourses were pretty packed. It was a bit difficult to get around on the 200 level. Bathrooms were still clean.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets start at $12 at the 600 level, and go as high as $25 for the lower bowl. The prices are fairly reasonable for this level of hockey. Combine that with the parking costs, and the decent food and the experience is reasonable for the overall price.
The crowd still yells in unison, "He shoots, he SCORES!" The number of goals that the Komets have at that point is noted by the number of times a gong is sounded.
Only retired player numbers (#40 for the long time radio announcer Bob Chase), and championship banners are hung from the ceiling, similar to the Hershey Bears, another older well-known minor league team.
I like the arena overall, especially being able to go right outside the lockerrooms after the game to watch the players leave. The concourses seem a bit crowded but not too bad.
The crowd got quiet pretty quick with Kalamazoo up 4-0 after 1,but were never fully out of it. They did not start leaving until part way through the 3rd with it 5-0. The fans were decent, a few rude ones, but not too bad considering I was a visiting fan.
The food seemed a bit pricey, but with plenty of options around the arena their is no reason to eat inside. The lines were not bad since all the stands were open.
I will not complain about the price of parking, it is more in Kalamazoo for an older arena. The price of tickets is a bit high, especially when you throw in ticketmaster fees. It is a plus to have student tickets, something I wish all teams did.
3010 Trier Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46815
4000 Parnell Ave
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
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