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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In ancient times, gladiators plied their trade in arenas filled with rabid fans cheering wildly for their favorites. Their tools were weapons such as swords and spears, with sharp blades designed to score against their opponents. Today Atlanta’s Gladiators perform at the very modern Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia. Their swords and spears have transformed into blades for skates and hockey sticks.
The Gladiators are members of the ECHL’s Southern Division of the Eastern Conference, and they are affiliated with the Boston Bruins organization. Their home ice since 2003 is the 11,500-seat Infinite Energy Arena. The team has been extremely successful throughout their history, as they have qualified for the ECHL playoffs on a regular basis. The arena features 36 corporate suites and two party suites. The electronics package in the facility includes a four-panel video board/scoreboard over center ice and a 360-degree ribbon board ringing the club level of the arena.
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".
Infinite Energy Arena utilizes a unique system of food courts, rather the usual generic arena concession stands. This allows for a much broader set of menu items to choose from. The following restaurants offer their specialties in this area: Club 64, The Georgian Grille and Arena Dogs and Deli. Two other benefits: 1) each restaurant has its own checkout line, so that orders are processed more quickly, eliminating long lines 2) each food court area also features tables and chairs, so if you prefer to eat pizza at a table rather than at your seat in your lap, you can do so.
The Infinite Energy Arena often hosts business conventions and other pricey events, and it shows in their pricing of concessions. A sampling of prices for the most often purchased items: hamburgers ($13), hot dogs ($5.75), grilled chicken sandwiches ($8), wings ($8.75) and a barbecue sandwich ($12). On the beverage front, sodas are $4.25, a bottled water is $4, draft beers are $8, import and craft beers are $9 and wine is $8.
Another problem: selling Pepsi products in an Atlanta based arena, which is a major no-no in the corporate home of Coca-Cola!
The Gwinnett Gladiators do a wonderful job of creating a family-friendly atmosphere at their games. Starting times on weeknights are one hour earlier (7pm) than you would typically find at a professional sporting event. Weekend games are often in the afternoon, so families can avoid late-night rides home with tired children. The promotions and contests between periods typically are child-oriented. The mascot for the Gladiators is Maximus the Lion, and he is a crowd favorite, as he roams the stands and assists with the contests between periods.
This does not mean going to a Gladiators game is strictly a kiddie affair. The Infinite Energy Arena features a number of bars and features a good selection of craft beers. There are also some seating sections set aside for the hardcore hockey fans that do not care to have an infant crying next to them or a child kicking the back of their seat. The arena staff does a great job of directing you to your seat or answering any questions you may have. In summary, a trip to an Atlanta Gladiators game can be a fun family experience.
Infinite Energy Arena is located in the northeast Atlanta suburb of Duluth, Georgia. This corridor offers a wide selection of dining, lodging and retail options for fans before or after a game.
Restaurants located within a few blocks of the arena include Tin Lizzy's Cantina, Marlow's Tavern, the Breakaway Grill, Carrabba's Italian Grill and a wide assortment of fast food brands. Lodging choices include local locations of Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Holiday Inn and the Hilton Garden Inn. Sugarloaf Mills, the largest outlet mall in Georgia, is located approximately two miles from Infinite Energy Arena. In addition to outlet stores from some of the leading brands in the country, the mall features a Bass Pro Shops, a Dave and Buster's entertainment complex and Medieval Times, a special event center featuring knights on horses who joust while you enjoy your meal fit for a king or queen.
Gladiator fans are extremely educated about hockey, as they are survivors of Atlanta's two failed attempts at the NHL level of competition. They proudly wear the blue and maroon colors of the Gladiators, but it is not unusual to see Atlanta Flames or Atlanta Thrashers jerseys also sprinkled through the stands. Unlike their now transplanted NHL predecessors, the Gladiators have always done very well at the box office. This can be attributed to their grassroots efforts at promoting hockey to youth organizations and schools in the area, but also to their much lower ticket prices and frequent special promotions. Nearly every game features a theme or salutes a civic organization in the community. In return, the team has enjoyed one of the larger season ticket bases in the ECHL.
Even though Infinite Energy Arena is located 25 miles north of downtown Atlanta, it is easily reached via I-85. After exiting at the Sugarloaf Parkway exit, it is just a matter of blocks until you reach the facility. Sugarloaf Parkway is a main thoroughfare in the area, and on game nights the local police ensure a steady flow of traffic headed to the arena. Once you reach Infinite Energy Arena, you will find the access to be excellent. One of the benefits to its suburban location is that the arena has a drop-off area immediately in front of the main entry portals, and the parking is plentiful and free in the arena parking lot. This would not be possible in the congested streets of downtown Atlanta. Once inside the Infinite Energy building, you will find very wide concourses that minimize any gridlock. There are ample restrooms, and concessions are evenly spread around the facility. Signage guiding you to your seat is excellent.
The Gladiators make every attempt to offer an enjoyable night out at the game at family-friendly prices. For the more hardcore hockey fans, behind the glass seats are $33; from there, the prices drop to $23 for club-level or premium (center ice on the sides) or $14 in the end zones. A $1.00 discount is given for tickets purchased online prior to the day of the game. In addition, discount coupons are widely available in local stores, and group tickets or mini-ticket packages can bring a ticket down to $7. The parking at Infinite Energy Arena is always free. Unfortunately, the concession prices are very high for this level of competition. Weekend games nearly always include some type of team giveaway item.
Infinite Energy Arena is also home to the Georgia Swarm, an indoor lacrosse team affiliated with the National Lacrosse League.
The acoustics at the Infinite Energy Arena are excellent. As a result, it is the major suburban concert venue in metropolitan Atlanta. In its concert configuration, the arena can hold nearly 16,000 fans. Some of the many performers who have put on concerts at the center include Elton John, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan, Cher, Taylor Swift, Eric Church and Michael W. Smith.
Sugarloaf Mills is one of the Southeast's largest outlet malls, and is less than three miles from the arena.
Member Review by jmccurdy
As NHL hockey spirals down the drain in Atlanta for the second time, it gets significantly tougher for anyone who gives a darn about the ice here in the metro area. Thankfully, for now the Thrashers' imminent migration has no implications for their ECHL affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators - who put on a pretty good show themselves.
Part of their solid product is undoubtedly their rink, housed on the campus of the larger event complex called Gwinnett Center. Here one finds a performing arts center and a convention floor among other venues, but of interest to the sports fan is the appropriately-named Arena.
Member Review by Coachrob16 on Sep 16, 2014
Really a nice venue to watch some hockey. The seats are very close to the ice and you feel like you are almost in on the action. Food options are plenty and the area has many things around it that are easy to get to.
Member Review by lloyd.brown on Dec 15, 2014
The Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team name is quite appropriate considering their staying power, where their bladed brethren, the Atlanta Flames and the Atlanta Thrashers have failed. Just as the gladiators of ancient times met the enemy and were victorious, the Gladiators have been a success both on the ice and in the stands. Founded in 2003, they play in the very competitive East Coast Hockey League as an affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL. More than 20 Gladiators have gone on to play in the majors. The team has an impressive record of going to the Kelly Cup playoffs in nearly every season in which they have taken the ice.
The modern-day arena for these Gladiators is Infinite Energy Center located in Duluth, Georgia, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta. The arena seats 13,000 for hockey and can easily be converted to other configurations for concerts, conventions, trade shows and other events. Amongst the extra amenities offered at the facility are 36 corporate suites, 2 party suites, and a spacious concourse with a wide range of concessions, and wider seats than most sports facilities, a rarity in the modern-day stadium/arena world.
2000 Satellite Blvd NW
Duluth, GA 30097
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