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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Allen is a city about 25 miles northeast of Dallas that is a great destination if you like the lower echelons of minor league sports, with franchises in the Central Hockey League, Indoor Football League, and even the Professional Arena Soccer League. All three teams play in the Allen Event Center, a beautiful facility that opened in 2009 with a Reba McEntire concert. Since then it has hosted several other shows, monster truck racing, and it will even hold the Collegiate Wrestling Championships in March 2013. The main attraction though is the hockey as the Allen Americans have become a local favorite.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are a surprisingly large number of concession stands for this level of hockey, each with something different to offer making this a great place to grab a bite. The most popular seemed to be Randy White's Hall of Fame BBQ which offers tempting sandwiches for $6.50 along with Loaded Spuds for the same price. The Allen Station Grill's signature dish is the shrimp po'boy basket for $8.50. Sweets lovers will be happy with the Nestle Toll House stand which sells cookies, brownies, and ice cream, with the 13 mini-cookies for $6 a good bet for a family. A hot dog and pizza stand round out the menu and there should be something for everyone among the many choices. Sodas are available at every stand with the regular going for $3.75 and the souvenir cup costing an extra dollar.
There is a full-service bar with large margaritas going for $13, although I did not notice anybody trying one. More commonly seen was draft beer, $5.25 for a small or $7.50 for a large.
The atmosphere during the game is great, helped along by an 80s night promotion during my visit. Before the game, they played AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock", a classic tune that gets people pumped up. During breaks in the action they played songs from that decade and in the intermissions they had music video clips as well as sports highlights such as the Miracle on Ice and Mario Lemieux's Canada Cup winning goal in 1987.
The cheerleaders were dressed in period attire (i.e. spandex) and kept things lively during one intermission with a dance routine.
During the game, a small section of fans played drums to generate some enthusiasm.
Of course there were quiet periods as well, but overall the team does a good job of keeping fans entertained without overdoing it.
The arena is part of the Villages at Allen and Fairview, two large shopping complexes that include several full-service restaurants along with dozens of stores and most importantly, an In-N-Out as the hamburger chain continues their expansion in Texas.
The area is fairly spread out and you might need to drive to many of the places, but Dodie's Place Cajun Bar & Grill is just across the street. A branch of the chain of sports bars, it has big TVs everywhere and a live DJ Wednesday through Saturday. This place is probably better as a bar than a restaurant on weekends so might be worth checking out after the game rather than a pre-game meal.
Generally fans are a bit quiet for the most part, but it is hard to blame them as the game I saw was lackluster and did not provide much opportunity for cheering. Many of the fans did have Allen jerseys on and they were polite and seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the evening, responding to the crowd cams at every opportunity. It would be nice if there were more of them, but those that were there were real fans of their team and their city.
Parking is free in a lot right next to the arena, and very easy to get into and out of. The main ticket window is a couple of minutes away and is located inside an atrium so you don't have to be cold while standing in line.
The concourse is more than wide enough although at one end you cannot walk around its entirety as one end is where the players enter and exit the ice and fans are not allowed through. If you need to get from section 109 to 111, you can try to enter the seating bowl and walk through one of the three rows that make up section 110.
There is a single seating bowl with 20 sections each with 19 rows. There were over 4,000 fans there but still lots of empty seats as capacity is 6,275 for hockey, so you can move around to some extent. Best seats are those in the top five rows in the sections along the sides as you get a clear view of the ice. It should be noted that there is no scoreboard above center ice; instead there are two video boards above the sideline seats and a basic scoreboard at each end.
Washrooms are more than adequate for the crowd size.
This is the one area where I was unpleasantly surprised. The cheapest ticket at the box office was $16 for an end-zone "terrace" seat, which had bad sightlines and was located right at a corner within the section, meaning the seat on the left was at a completely different angle, making it doubly uncomfortable.
Fortunately, I was able to move around and eventually settled on a much better seat near one of the blue lines. At $23, this might be worth the extra money if you want to guarantee a good spot.
The quality of hockey in the CHL is not very good, and tickets should not be this much. However, with parking being free the overall cost lines up with other venues at this level.
A couple of unique touches: first, the anthem was sung by a group of children in the stands; in a small venue such as this it makes sense. As well, the starting lineups are announced for the home team much like in basketball - the player skates out from the goal line to the blue line as his name is announced.
Along the concourse there was a regulation size net for children to practice shooting into.
There was also a booth for the Canadian-American Chamber of Commerce that was auctioning off typical Canadiana such as red and white gloves.
The chuck-a-puck promotion is always a welcome way to spend five minutes during an intermission. The poor guy doing the announcing on the ice was the target of most fans as they threw their plastic pucks directly at him; to his credit the person that hit him got one of the prizes.
Right next door is the Allen Community Ice Rink and it was busy after the game, demonstrating that hockey is here to stay in Dallas.
There were some local jerseys in the loge, which is the premium section.
Finally, there was a post-game photo shoot where fans were invited to sign a waiver allowing their likeness to be used publicly and then sit in a section while photos were taken for publicity purposes. This is just a one-time deal I think but an interesting idea and many fans took part.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Allen Event Center. Tickets are slightly overpriced, but the other amenities are cheaper so it is not a burden. The team puts on a show and keeps the fans entertained from the time they enter the arena. If you are in the Dallas area, have a look at the CHL schedule and see if Allen is at home; the trip will be worth it.
Member Review by pderrick
Located in one of the many suburbs of Dallas, Texas you'll find the CHL's Allen Americans. In just their second year of play, the Americans are quickly making a name for themselves. An affiliate of the Dallas and Texas Stars, the Americans give fans of these franchises an opportunity to see their up and comers. The Allen Americans call the beautiful, 6,225 fixed-seat multi-purpose Allen Event Center their home. Opened in 2009, the event center is a perfect venue for hockey and makes an incredible home for the Americans.
Member Review by Maverick on May 27, 2011
It is a great facility in a great area. Having the Village at Allen to eat and shop creates an amazing experiance and then to go to the game which is first free parking second good pricing for tickets and third very affordable food prices. It's great family entertainment and it is safe, clean and affordable family entertainment
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