DCU Center (map it)
50 Foster St
Worcester, MA 01608
Year Opened: 1982
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Sitting right in the middle of Downtown Worcester is the DCU Center, home to the Sharks of the American Hockey League. When the building opened as The Centrum in 1981, there was no hockey on a regular basis until the expansion IceCats started in 1994. After nearly a decade in town, they moved to Peoria and in 2006, Cleveland's AHL franchise moved to Central Massachusetts. Given the right circumstances (games against rivals, Saturday Nights) it can be a fun place to watch hockey, otherwise, the building is plain and quiet.
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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".
If you have a sweet tooth or are bringing kids to the game, the DCU Center has a surprising assortment of desserts available. From SnoCones and frozen lemonades to Dippin' Dots and soft-serve ice cream, there's a lot to choose from, along with a display of movie-style candy.
Otherwise, the usual arena food can be found at the arena, though I did not see any burgers. There are an adequate amount of stands around the concourse for hot dogs, fries, pizza, etc. A stand in one of the corners of the concourse was selling paninis that were pretty good. Also available are grinders, a New England term for a sub sandwich.
The building is a boring one and the early 80s design leaves much to be desired. It's hard to find anything noteworthy with the two-level seating design as it follows the shape of the rink, but not in a neat, clean-cut way. The DCU Center is one of those AHL arenas that tries to make itself seem more intimate by using a curtain to block off the second level seats. Only, it's odd because the curtain leaves open three or four rows for fans to buy tickets and watch the game. This reduces the hockey capacity to 7,230 instead of the 14,800 seats available. There is one cool area to watch the game and that is from the Charter Zone area behind one of the goals. This bar juts out into the seating bowl and gives a close-up, yet slightly overhead view of the game for those standing in front along the railing.
For a Sunday afternoon game, the atmosphere was dead and there was nearly no spark from the crowd. The day and time likely had something to do with the lack of atmosphere. It seemed to bring the quality of play down with the quietness of the building allowing for all the in-game noise to be loudly heard. However, there are instances when the DCU Center is more exciting for hockey and that is usually on Saturday Nights and when the Providence Bruins are in town.
The DCU Center is in downtown Worcester and though it certainly is not the most vibrant or exciting city, there are a few options for visiting fans. Adjacent to the arena (on the side where the attached convention center sits) is an Uno Chicago Grill. The table servers dress up with Sharks jerseys on game nights and the food is of the typical chain-restaurant variety, but with the focus on some good deep-dish pizzas. For a more upscale approach, try Viva Bene Italian Ristorante, which sits across from the arena. Along with good Italian food you will find a decent-sized bar.
Tourist attractions are nearly non-existent, but if you want to go for a nice stroll, check out Worcester Commons, where you'll find a beautiful view of City Hall and an interesting statue on the other side of the park.
Fans just didn't seem to bring much energy to the game I attended. Aside from the cheers during goals, they were mainly quiet. There also wasn't much in the way of Sharks apparel worn, but this is a problem management needs to think about because it's hard to market a team when they use the logo and nickname of the parent club who is over 3,000 miles away and nobody cares about (meanwhile, the Boston Bruins play 40 miles to the East). With that being said, there are nights when the fans have come out and filled the lower half of the building, so there is certainly potential here.
It is very easy to get to the DCU Center, despite its urban location. Cutting right through Downtown Worcester is I-290 and Exit 16 will put you two short roads from the arena. Parking garages are likely your best option, but I'm sure there is some street parking. About a quarter-mile from the exit ramp is a parking garage on your right that is simple to navigate and a short walk to the arena. Other garages are located in the vicinity. During the game I attended, traffic was non-existent and it was simple to get back onto I-290.
Bathrooms inside the arena were not adequate but they worked for a smaller crowd. A higher attendance likely would mean lines and a pretty crowded area.
There are better AHL experiences out there for the similar pricing, but overall the pricing fits the product and event. Being that this is a downtown venue, some costs are increased a bit, namely the parking. The aforementioned garages cost around $5-$7, but there is a $10 garage right next to the arena. Tickets were either $16 or $20 and the prices at the concession stand got a little high, especially for the sweets with most of the items around $5. Other items included fries that were $4.50 and bottled water which costs $3.50.
There is another form of hockey that has been very successful at the DCU Center and that has been the NCAA Tournament. Worcester has hosted part of the tournament, and because of the centralized location with the many Northeastern hockey schools, the arena becomes a raucous, fun place during the four-team regionals with fan bases from each school usually well represented.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium & Arena Visits.
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25 Major Taylor Boulevard
Worcester, MA 01608
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