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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has been the home of the OKC Barons from 2010-2015. It was built in 1972 as the Myriad Convention Center and has a hockey capacity of 13,399.
In January 2015, it was announced that the Barons would cease operations after the 2015 season and be replaced the following season by the Bakersfield Condors, a new AHL team. However, it is hoped that given the arena’s ability to host a minor league hockey team, there will be one there sooner rather than later.
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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".
The regular concessions in the Cox Convention Center are called "Slap Shots" and have your fairly normal concession type food including popcorn, hot dogs, soda, etc. The prices here are pretty reasonable, but there's plenty of other options to get your grub on.
More eclectic options include the Alley Oop Almonds stand, The Press which serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, frozen yogurt stands, and Pizza Hut personal pizzas. There is also a full service bar on one side of the arena, and a Casa Mex Mexican Cantina stand which was closed when this review was done.
All in all, the food options at the Cox Convention Center are affordable and offer a great variety. The stand that can't be missed is the Backyard BBQ where one can find brisket sandwiches, smoke sausage sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs. However, their prize is the BBQ Nachos, which simply cannot be ignored during a visit to this venue.
Oklahoma City is not necessarily considered a hockey town, which is why the atmosphere that has been cultivated during Baron games is so special. There is a ton of pomp and ceremony before the matches start, and the MC does a good job of engaging the crowd and keeping them involved, loud and energetic. The jumbotron above center ice is also very nice.
There are also a lot of things happening in the concourse to grab the average fan's attention. Promotional booths for local business and the OKC Energy (local soccer team) offer contests where fans can win great prizes. There is also a VIP Lounge and the Edge, a store that sells Baron apparel which is very reasonably priced in comparison to similar shops in similar venues.
The Cox Convention Center is located in the Bricktown section of Oklahoma City, which has all kinds of awesome things to do. The Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, is right across the street. Other attractions nearby include the Oklahoma City Zoo, the National Cowboy and Western Museum, the Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Harkins Theatre and the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the MiLB's Oklahoma City Dodgers.
There are also lots of great restaurants nearby including Fuzzy's Taco Shop, Bricktown Brewery and KD's Southern Cuisine to name just a few. Nearby hotels include The Hilton Garden Inn, the Hampton Inn & Suites, and the Residence Inn Marriott. However, a good hotel option is the Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center. It is a bit farther away, but it makes up for it in price and its free shuttle that will take customers to any and all Bricktown attractions.
Barons' matches tend to run about half-full in the stands and usually more so on nights when their match does not conflict with the Thunder right across the street. Regardless of their size, the crowd is a vocal one that is very engaged in the action on the ice from beginning to end.
It also consists of a good mix of young adults and families, so it's a fan environment where just about anyone can be comfortable. It is evident that there is a core fan base that makes up about half of the crowd, with the rest being people just looking for a good time. The concourse around the arena almost completely empties when the Barons are battling in the rink.
Parking depends greatly on whether or not the Thunder are playing the same night. This is primarily because the garage beneath the arena is available for $8 parking but only on nights the Thunder are not playing. Free parking is pretty much impossible to find, and it is very unlikely that a fan would be able to find a parking price that beats $8 either. Downtown can be difficult to navigate on those Thunder game nights anyway, so it is always best to arrive as early as possible. Otherwise, parking will be available up to game time and usually even after.
The seating inside the arena is decent, visibility is good regardless of seat location and all seating levels are very comfortable. Handicapped seating is plentiful and very accessible. The aisles and concourse provide plenty of space for getting around, even at their most crowded. The Cox Convention Center does have areas other than the arena though, so getting lost is possible for new visitors.
Barons tickets were relatively inexpensive, so the return here was pretty good. The atmosphere, fans and food were all pluses. The arena's access issues regarding parking are troublesome, but can be avoided by going to certain games. Until the Cox Convention Center lands a hockey team again, the closest hockey experience to OKC is the Tulsa Oilers, who provide one of the best minor league hockey experiences in the country.
One extra point for having a Kids' Zone where kids can play with hockey sticks and oversized pucks.
Member Review by BradleeRoss on Jan 28, 2012
The American Hockey League's Oklahoma City Barons play their home games in the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. The Cox Convention Center has a hockey capacity of over 13,000 and it has undergone a number of upgrades in the last four to five years, including a new scoreboard and new team store. Cox Convention Center opened in 1972 and also is the home of the Indoor Football League's Bricktown Brawlers.
Member Review by megminard on Dec 16, 2012
Besides being in Oklahoma City, the item I liked best about my trip to visit the Barons was the actual play of the games I attended. Just good, well played hockey games.
The one night was Faith Night and after the national anthem a prayer was said. That was something I don’t remember witnessing at a hockey game before. There was a band both nights I attended as well as a giveaway both nights. The one giveaway was a new one to me: Your choice of a Barack Obama or a Mitt Romney bobble head (presumably dressed as a Barons player – I haven’t opened mine up yet).
I didn’t find the food that appetizing in the arena. My recommendation is eat at one of the many restaurants in ‘Bricktown’ which is walking distance (less than 1/2 mile) to the arena. The temperature was quite chilly in the arena so plan accordingly and bundle up.
There’s plenty to see and do in OKC. If nothing else, do visit the Oklahoma National Memorial Museum. Other sites I visited and would recommend are: Myriad Gardens/Crystal Bridge, Banjo Museum, Water Taxi, and all of Bricktown sights and sounds.
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