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BMO Harris Bank Center

Rockford, IL

Home of the Rockford IceHogs

3.9

4.1

BMO Harris Bank Center (map it)
300 Elm St
Rockford, IL 61101


Rockford IceHogs website

BMO Harris Bank Center website

Year Opened: 1981

Capacity: 5,767

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Happy on the Hog

Once simply known as the “MetroCentre,” BMO Harris Bank Center is the home of the AHL Rockford IceHogs, the successor to the old United Hockey League franchise which also used to play at this facility.

Opened in 1981, the arena seats almost 6,000 for hockey, and is located right in the middle of downtown Rockford, an industrial city with ample building stock in the center city, but sorely in need of vision and fresh investment. Locals call the arena “The Barnyard,” although with the distinctive reddish/orange brick façade, another nickname for the arena is the “Big Orange Box.”

The current IceHogs are the descendants of the old Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, a franchise which went defunct for one season before landing in Rockford in time for the 2007-08 season. The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate for the Chicago Blackhawks, add some local connection to the squad for fans.

3.9

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    5

Concession presentation and food choices are outstanding here and certainly worth the trip. The Panini stand is a favorite, offering meatball bombers, pepperoni and cheese sandwiches, and even a dessert frosted cinnamon panino ($4-$7.50).

In one end zone is a terraced area with a stand named the Pig Pit, offering pulled pork bbq beef or Buffalo chicken sandwiches ($6), along with boneless wings ($6), cheese fries ($4,50), and a dish called the "Pig Slop" ($8).

Add to that Papa Johns, a Mexican stand named Chili Rojo with two tacos or a taco salad ($7.25) with various nacho combos. There is also a specialty hot dog option with Chicago style, coney or nacho dogs ($5.50).

Scattered throughout the arena are full bars offering a wide selection of mixed drinks, local brews and craft beers.

Atmosphere    4

Being such a small and intimate arena, it isn't hard to get the crowd into a game here, and between organ music, a mascot named Hammy who really works well with the fans, and several crowd-generated chants, one taunting the opposing goalie to the old tune of "Money Money," the energy is pretty high here.

Helping things along is a pretty decent four-sided video scoreboard, which is accompanied beneath by a circular LED ribbon board to provide scores and stats. One end zone is completely dominated by a private party deck at ice level, the aforementioned terrace area appropriately named "The Barnyard" with ample viewing area, and above that a club level viewing deck and premium seating area.

Neighborhood    2

Downtown Rockford is clean; its building stock is old and historic, offering architecture and preservation buffs plenty of eye candy. But the streets are largely empty and devoid of life. Urban renewal and flight from the city devastated Rockford, and things are just now starting to turn around. As a result, the BMO Harris Bank Center is probably one of the few activity magnets for entertainment in the center city.

As for restaurants, most are clustered on East State Street, two blocks south of the arena. Try the Social Urban Bar, the Abreo Restaurant, Bamboo Asian Noodles and Tapas Bar, or the Irish Rose Saloon, all within walking distance of each other. A pretty funky looking dive bar option with lots of TV sets showing sports is the Lafayette Hotel.

Fans    4

One of the best reasons to give a high score here is because attendance and fan support is very much on the rise here, with the IceHogs enjoying record attendance figures since joining the AHL. Fan support is loud and robust, you can see kids in the audience wearing team jerseys, and many bring cowbells to raise the noise level.

Access    5

Getting into downtown Rockford is pretty simple, off I-90 onto US 20 and then just about 2 miles of city driving, much through urban prairie and vacant industrial space, and you are smack dab in the middle of downtown. Most ramps and surface parking lots are priced between $5-$8. On street parking is ample, and meters aren't policed after 5 pm or on weekends so snag a spot and walk a couple blocks to save money.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets run as low as $8 for terrace seats to $29 to sit close to the glass. There are really no bad seats in the building. The aforementioned concession stands offer decent pricing, and at worse parking will set you back $8, with most lots priced at $5 and free parking close by as well. That makes for a pretty good and cheap night of hockey entertainment. Well worth your investment.

Extras    3

One star for the collection of framed jerseys showcasing various promotional themed nights done here throughout the franchise's history. Breast cancer night, Mexican night are just a few of the events that got their own jerseys, and all on display in the concourse. Nicely done.

One star for the championship banner celebrating the franchise's one UHL championship. The rafters remain uncluttered with any other silly banners, and that's a good thing.

One star for the name of the team store "Oink Outfitters." Yeah that works.

Final Thoughts

Within reasonably close proximity to Chicago, and being the Chicago Blackhawks affiliate, there are marketing and co-promotion opportunities galore. What the IceHogs lack in tenure and history, they more than make up for with a sparkling and functional arena, solid game night presentation, and an overall fun place to attend and watch a hockey game. BMO Harris Bank Center is definitely worth the trip.

Spot-on review!

This review pretty much nails the experience at an Icehogs game. There's very little to complain about - parking is plentiful and cheap, any seat in the house provides a great view, and it's an affordable opportunity to see the future of the Blackhawks up close and personal.

In terms of the fans, that experience can vary wildly. On most weeknights, they struggle to draw more than a couple thousand spectators. However, Friday and Saturday night games regularly draw between 5,000 and 6,000 people - the place can really come alive at those games.

by Adam_BHP | Feb 14, 2011 05:10 AM

Agreed!

The neighborhood is the downtown of Rockford, and clearly there's a neighborhood revitalization afoot. There are a few bars and restaurants in the area and hopefully that will grow. All in all, an accurate review.

by uicpuckheadpaul | Jan 26, 2012 11:35 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Hog Wild

Total Score: 3.86

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

The Rockford IceHogs originated as a team in the now defunct UHL (United Hockey League) in 1999. In 2007 they joined the prestigious AHL, and became the top minor league affiliate of the nearby Chicago Blackhawks.

Known for years as the Rockford MetroCentre, the arena was renamed in August 2011 as the BMO Harris Bank Center, although many fans continue to simply call it the "Big Orange Box." With outstanding food offerings, fair prices, and a few interesting twists, the BMO Harris Bank Center is a great place to catch a game.

I love this place!!

Total Score: 4.57

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

The bowl-style area has a college atmosphere feel to it. There are no bad seats in the arena, which does not have an upper deck. The fans are energetic and supportive of the team. The arena is located in the downtown area of Rockford. There are a few restaurants in the area, but clearly there's a revitalization afoot. Tickets and parking is affordable. I absolutely love going here for games. I could go to Rosemont to see the Wolves, but prefer Rockford instead by leaps and bounds. I have yet to have a poor experience here.

Hammy Time

Total Score: 4.00

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

A great rink with surprisingly varied and tasty food options, an $8 ticket, the ability to sit anywhere, free parking all around, and cool fans. Can't add much more than the main review, the IceHogs go whole hog on the ham theme, with a Hamboni ride, a flying pig, and even signing Theo PeckHAM.

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Local Food & Drink

Social Urban Bar  (map it!)

509 E State St,

Rockford, IL 61104

(815) 708-0877

http://www.social509.com/

Abreo Restaurant  (map it!)

515 E State St

Rockford, IL 61104

(815) 968-9463

http://www.abreorockford.com/

Bamboo Asian Noodles and Tapas Bar  (map it!)

514 E State St

Rockford, IL 61104

(815) 316-2455

http://www.bamboorockford.com/

Irish Rose Saloon  (map it!)

519 E State St,

Rockford, IL 61104

(815) 964-0480

http://irishrosesaloon.net/wp-site/

Local Entertainment

Lodging

Lafayette Hotel  (map it!)

411 Mulberry St

Rockford, IL 61101

(815) 964-5651

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g36619-d6022631-Reviews-Lafayette_Hotel-Rockford_Illinois.html

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