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Official Review by Danica Rhoades, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Founded in 1997, The Idaho Steelheads are (to Boise sports fans) second in popularity only to the Boise State football team. The Steelheads played six years in the West Coast Hockey League (no longer in existence) before joining the ECHL in 2003.
In 2004 and 2007, the Steelheads played their way to Kelly Cup victories. In 2010, the team was awarded their first Brabham Cup trophy, which honors the team with the most points scored in the regular season. The Steelheads also won the National Conference Championship and made a third trip to the Kelly Cup series in 2010, but did not come away with the win.
The Steelheads are an affiliate of the Dallas Stars (NHL) and Texas Stars (AHL).
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".
CenturyLink Arena offers concessions in an open concourse that allows fans to get snacks without having to miss much of the action. The concourse overlooks the arena floor, and sits between the lower and upper levels of seating. Throughout the concourse fans can find: hot dogs, pretzels and Pepsi products, hamburgers, chicken strips, wraps, nachos, quesadillas, draft beer, wine, mixed drinks, Papa Murphy's Pizza, Blimpie Subs & Salads, Dippin' Dots, and other frozen treats. While the variety and set up are fantastic, the prices are a bit steep for most items.
The Steelheads games always prove to be exciting and fun. Blue, the mascot, is fairly entertaining and does a good job of keeping the kids engaged. The arena provides a lot of promotions and activities to keep the fans involved. When a fight breaks out they play a fight song (...that way fans are sure to know a fight is in the works). Between periods the aww-worthy Mighty Mites youth hockey teams play a mini game, and often a junior figure skater will perform a routine. The Chuck-a-Puck promotion, during which fans throw purchased/numbered pucks onto the ice for the chance at a prize, is always a crowd pleaser.
Other promotions include: $1 Beer Wednesdays (during the regular season the Steelheads will offer $1 small beers through the end of the 2nd period), Quench Time (If the Steelheads score a goal during "Quench Time" either small Budweisers and Bud Lights are just $2 for the rest of the game OR small Pepsi products are $1 for the rest of the game), Dreyer's Power Play (when Steelheads score a power play goal, one fan gets free ice cream), and Short Handed Savings (when Steelheads score a short-handed goal, fans get 20% off gear for the rest of the game).
CenturyLink Arena is located right in the center of Downtown Boise. There are plenty of restaurants and bars for fans to visit before or after the games. The Boise Convention Center is located directly across from the arena. Shopping, hotels, and parking are all within a block of the arena as well.
Since joining the ECHL, the Steelheads lead the league in sell-outs, which wouldn't be possible without great fans. On any given night, the arena is filled with a good mix of rowdy trash-talking hardcore hockey fans decked out in Steelheads gear, families enjoying some entertaining bonding time, young professionals starting a night on the town, and couples sharing a date. Regardless of the motivation, the entire crowd gets caught up in the action, joining in chants and rousing cheers for the Steelheads. The arena even features the Bud Light crowd noise scale, which lights up to reflect how loud the fans are being. Even fans who know nothing about hockey, or who may not even like the sport, can't help but get carried away by the energy in the arena.
Because the arena is located in the downtown area, there is plenty of parking available very close to the arena. Free parking, however, is pretty much non-existent. According the City of Boise's website, there are 3,500 parking spaces in the city-operated downtown parking garages. Visitors receive the first hour free in all garages except the Grove Street Garage, and each additional hour is $2.50. In addition, there are several privately owned surface parking lots available. Most of these lots charge a $5 flat fee for event parking.
Because of the team's popularity, ticket prices can be a little steep for Steelheads games. Tickets range from $16 to $50 a piece. That said, the marketing department does a good job of offering promotions to make games more affordable for a lot of people. Current promotions include: 4-for-$44 (fans can purchase four tickets to any Friday night home game for just $11.00 each, and get a small drink and hotdog for free), Sell-Out Saturdays (if the arena sells out fans can enjoy ˝ price pitchers of beer or soda in the Sports Zone bar after the game), KTIK 1350 Section (fans can purchase tickets for section 201 for only $13.50), Top Shelf $10.00 (starting 48 hours before every home game top row seats are available for only $10), and on Wednesday nights AAA members can get one free ticket per purchased ticket.
CenturyLink Arena has several unique features that are bonus-point worthy. Because the arena is built into the Grove Hotel, the arena offers luxury suites that provide catered meals and overlook the arena floor. In addition, the Sports Zone Bar and Restaurant, located along one side of the arena, offers tables that overlook the action. Additionally, a mini-blimp, which drops coupons down to fans, can be found circling the arena during sporting events.
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