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Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

Rochester, NY

Home of the Rochester Americans

3.6

3.1

Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial (map it)
1 War Memorial Square
Rochester, NY 14614


Rochester Americans website

Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial website

Year Opened: 1955

Capacity: 11,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Amerk-ican Way

Rochester, New York is the prototypical American minor-league city. They boast no franchises in the four major sports, yet host a plethora of second-tier franchises, and have done so for a very long time.

A great example of this is the Rochester Americans.

The Amerks are the 2nd longest running team in the AHL, and boast a history that dates, uninterrupted, back to 1956. That is second only to the Hershey Bears. The Amerks enjoy one of the best affiliations in sports. The Amerks are affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres. They are owned by Terry Pegula who also owns the Sabres and Buffalo Bandits of the NLL. Located a mere hour's drive from the First Niagara Center, the Amerks have that unique, yet vital situation, where the fan base of Rochester is also genuinely interested in what is happening with the parent club. In their time in the AHL, the Amerks have amassed a great deal of success, culminating in 6 Calder Cup championships.

Although an institution in Rochester since 1955, The War Memorial has undergone renovations that bring it up to league standards, and there is very little evidence that the arena is as old as it is. Owned by the City of Rochester, the War Memorial re-opened after renovations in 1998 with a naming rights deal that was signed with Blue Cross.

An outing to see the Amerks is a solid evening of entertainment, especially for the AHL. Rochester is doing it their way ... the American way.

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    3

The concessions that are available at the Blue Cross Arena are fairly average. There is enough selection to make the average fan happy, but there is really nothing that is going to get you overly excited. Hot dogs, nachos, burgers and popcorn are all available.

Philly cheesesteaks and Chicken Philly Steaks offer a bit of a release from the standard arena fare. Soda features are all Pepsi products, and draught beers are Molson Canadian or Bud Light. The prices are to be expected, and are neither blow your mind cheap nor blow your mind expensive. You won't go hungry at Blue Cross Arena, but that might not be a problem anyway (see Neighborhood below).

Atmosphere    3

As mentioned above, The War Memorial does not look like an arena that has been around for over 50 years. As part of the renovations, a large narthex was built complete with a team store and ticket windows. It is surrounded by large windows, which do a great job of allowing in that natural light, and avoids the dank, dark interior that can accompany older arenas like Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The narthex is actually a great place to wait INSIDE on those cold, Western New York, winter evenings before the gates open.

Once giving your ticket, and heading up the stairs, fans have the opportunity to enter a large carpeted area adjacent to one of the windowed areas of the arena. In this area you will find most of the history of the Amerks. This includes banners from all of the championships, as well as those individuals who have been inducted, not the least of which is Canadian television hockey icon, Don Cherry. Cherry is a former player and coach with the Americans.

Inside the seating bowl, the sightlines are good and the seats are newly replaced. This gives the fan a comfortable atmosphere to watch the game. Overhead, you will find numerous championship banners, including the 6 banners for the Calder Cups. You will also find 3 banners for the 2 retired numbers. These include Norm Armstrong's number 6, and Dick Gamble and Jody Gage's number 9.

The videoboard is what you would expect for an AHL facility. However it does not hang directly over center-ice. This takes a bit of getting used to, and it is difficult to figure out the reason behind this. The in-game production is solid and features a mix of classic hockey organ music with contemporary music.

Neighborhood    4

Downtown Rochester is decent. The Blue Cross Arena is located a ways from Frontier Field and Sahlen's Stadium. There are a couple of options around the arena for things to do and eat. You won't be overwhelmed by the selection, but you won't need to be. When making a trip to Rochester, it is imperative to stop in at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

Featured on numerous Food Network shows, the Dinosaur features some of the greatest BBQ that you can get. It will most definitely change how you approach concessions at the game. A pregame meal will mean that you won't need to eat at the game, and a postgame meal will mean that you won't want to eat at the game. It does get quite busy even when a game is not being played that day, so you will want to get there early.

To fill your day, or weekend, a trip to Rochester must also include a trip to the National Museum of Play. A fantastic outing for kids young and old, one could spend hours and hours in this hidden gem.

Fans    4

Rochester has had a bit of a resurgence at the turnstile. At the time of this review during the 2012-2013 season, they are averaging nearly 7,000 fans per game, which is good for the top third of the AHL. Just a few short years ago, they were closer to the bottom third of the league, but a combination of a lack of NHL hockey during the lockout, and a stronger, more connected ownership group and affiliation with the Sabres, has brought the fans back. Amerks fans are passionate, and intelligent. They know their hockey.

Access    4

Getting to the War Memorial is absolutely no problem at all. It is located just a few blocks from I-490. There are a few parking options around the arena, and you will have to pay a bit. If you are adventurous, you could take a crack at finding some street parking. Inside, the washroom facilities are adequate for the crowds.

Return on Investment    4

Amerks tickets are not too expensive. There is a bit of a discount for purchasing before the day of the game. The majority of seats inside Blue Cross Arena will run you less than $20. The concession prices are pretty decent, and parking is not too bad. Overall, a trip to see the Amerks is a solid investment in your entertainment. You will definitely have a good time, and you won't blow the kids' college fund to do it.

Extras    3

An extra point for the playing of the old Hulk Hogan theme song "Real American" at the beginning of warm-ups. A bit of nostalgia, and a funny link.

An extra point for the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. It's that good!

An extra point for the vast history of the Amerks.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get a real taste for minor league America, then a trip to Rochester is where it is at. It is a pure minor league town that is not overshadowed by major professional sports, or a major NCAA program. The Amerks have the spotlight and the attention of Rochester. Give them your attention for a few hours.

Excellent Mix of Old and New

Excellent review Dennis! The War Memorial is a such a unique building in the AHL with the mix of new and old. The glass atrium and wide open entrances did a nice job modernizing and enhancing the look. Yet, when you step inside, it still feel like a 1950s arena without being uncomfortable and that is just so rare and awesome. I grew up in Rochester and probably have been to 100 games and the more arenas I visit, the more I realize how special the BCA is. There's nothing like standing for the anthem, hearing the din of the lights as they warm back up, watching the Moose come out and entertain the crowd and then watching that familiar Americans crest on the home whites. It was just wrong when they weren't affiliated with Buffalo and I hope that the very disappointing fan turnout and atmosphere of the last several years gets turned around by the renewed relationship. Great job on the review

by shamus170 | Nov 07, 2011 08:48 AM

Pre-game

There's plenty of on street parking south of the arena on Exchange/Plymouth or in the Corn Hill Neighborhood if you don't mind walking 2-3 blocks. Nathanial's is good for some pre-gaming so brews or having some pub grub. Panzari's has some good and very reasonably priced past and pizza, and never seems very crowed.Tony D's in Corn Hill landing is good, but a little pricier and way more crowded generally.

by JakeGronie | May 14, 2012 02:52 AM

Accurate review

Good review Dave! I have been to many Amerks games (since 1989) and your review is dead on accurate. For those visiting an Amerks game the Dinosaur BBQ it is an awesome place to eat but it is jam packed on game day. Average wait time before and after games is 2 hours so plan accordingly. Dinosaur BBQ doesn't take reservations and the bar area is extremely small. Consider alternatives using Yelp.com or urbanspoon.com.

by Buffalo_Billy | May 28, 2014 10:56 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Amerks at War Memorial

Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

The American Hockey League (AHL) has a long history, all the way back to 1936. While no teams remain from that inaugural season, a few have been around for a long time and the Rochester Americans are among them. Since 1956, the Rochester Americans have been members of the AHL, playing their games in the same building for all 55 years of their existence.

Call it anything you want, but the Blue Cross Arena at War Memorial remains to many just "The War Memorial". Even after a renovation, the building still exudes the charm of a time long ago with great features no longer found in modern arenas.

It also helps that after several years of estrangement, the Americans and NHL's Buffalo Sabres are back as partners and the result makes seeing a game at the War Memorial so much better. Being just 80 miles apart, it is a natural relationship that serves the region and hockey fans well.

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Local Food & Drink

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que  (map it!)

99 Court St

Rochester, NY 14604

(585) 325-7090

http://www.dinosaurbarbque.com/locations/rochester/

Local Entertainment

National Museum of Play  (map it!)

1 Manhattan Square Dr

Rochester, NY 14607

(585) 263-2700

http://www.thestrong.org/

Lodging

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