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Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Binghamton and the AHL have a long history together, starting back in the 1970s when the old Dusters played in the league. After the Whalers in the 80s and the Rangers in the 90s, the city was shockingly without an AHL franchise when the Rangers moved to Hartford in 1997. After five years with no AHL, the Ottawa Senators moved their affiliate to Binghamton in 2002 and the B-Sens have been here ever since.
Last season, the city celebrated its first-ever Calder Cup championship. One thing in common with all of the different teams that have played in Binghamton is that it has been done in the old arena off State Street. Though the facility may feel outdated and cramped, it induces a great atmosphere and takes fans back to some old-time hockey.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Several food stands along the sides of the tight concourse provide fans with plenty of options. Along with the usual staples are some specialty items. The Great American Smokehouse & BBQ offers a carving station and a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6.25). They also had a "Colorado Potato Bomb" ($6.00), which I guess might be a loaded baked potato? Anyway, if you’re looking for a true Binghamton staple, the Spiedie ($6.75) is available. A Spiedie is a local delicacy featuring chicken (it also can be another meat) specially marinated in a soft roll. The one I had was disappointingly dry and bland. I know it's arena food, but if you’re going to have the pride of your city available in a well-visited environment, at least do it right and make it good.
Beverages of all sorts can be had at the BCVMA with Coca-Cola, hot chocolate, tea, and coffee as some of the drinks offered. This goes for alcohol, too, as wine is available in several types, along with beer. Labatt and Bud products are the most popular, however be sure to check out the Brew House stand which offers many microbrews.
Walking up to the arena feels like you are back in the 1970s and that feel continues to some extent inside, thanks to the color scheme and the center-ice dot matrix scoreboard. But this is not all bad as the facility features some terrific sightlines. Each side has a large section of seating, and between the blue lines, fans get great views because seats are close and the pitch is quite steep. In fact, most seats here are good, except for the edges of the side seating as those make it difficult to see the net at times. Another plus is the low roof, which helps to increase the noise and add to what can occasionally become a great atmosphere.
Binghamton isn’t the most attractive of cities, especially come winter-time. In terms of entertainment, there really is not much besides the B-Sens; however, the location of the arena is in a good spot downtown that is near several bars and restaurants. The closest of which is Dillingers, a pub and eatery that is located in a historic building and caters to Sens fans. Another good spot that is a little further down, but still walkable, is the Lost Dog Café. This has become quite popular in the city and they are known for a terrific Rigatoni ala Vodka.
Fans are good here as many come to the games wearing B-Sens apparel and several carry team flags with them, which are waved through the arena after goals. Sparingly, the crowd will get a "Let’s Go Sens" chant going. I was a little disappointed in the turnout for the game I attended; however, as is the case with most teams, Saturday night games are better draws than Friday nights. Given that this is a traditional minor-league hockey market and that the building holds less than 5,000, sellouts should be more frequent than they are. During the playoffs, fans bring the noise and the small BCVMA was absolutely deafening at several points during the 2011 Calder Cup Finals.
Several major interstates and highways all converge into Binghamton, which is located in the Southern Tier of New York State. It only takes a few miles to get downtown, but the exit and entrance onto North Shore Drive can be awkward. Though State Street is the main artery in the city, use Washington Street as your in- and out-road on the trip. There are several parking areas ($5) near the arena, along with a few garages, so finding spaces is not a problem. Getting out afterwards can be a little congested, as pedestrian traffic randomly crossing streets without crosswalks gets in the way.
Inside, the concourses become cramped and tight at intermission, especially when there is a big crowd. A strange feature is the bathrooms not being located in the concourse, but instead downstairs in the corners of the arena at ice level. They are rather small, too.
Prices are around the average AHL level as tickets run $18.50 for side seating and $17.50 for the ends. Just watch for the annoying Ticketmaster fees online that add several dollars to the price. If possible, try to buy them at the box office in the arena, and also check the B-Sens website as they have several promotions to save on tickets. Concessions are priced fine, while parking is $5, a bit high for my liking in a small city but certainly not uncommon. The game experience and on-ice product is worth a visit.
The Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena may have a long name, but at least it lives up to it. Many displays dedicated to the area’s veterans can be found throughout the complex and they add up to a very poignant memorial. From pictures and plaques to each war on the outside, to several tributes in the concourses inside, all are worth a look and moment of reflection.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium & Arena Visits.
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77 State St
Binghamton, NY 13901
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