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Erie Insurance Arena

Erie, PA

Home of the Erie Otters

4.1

3.8

Erie Insurance Arena (map it)
809 French St
Erie, PA 16501


Erie Otters website

Erie Insurance Arena website

Year Opened: 1983

Capacity: 6,500

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Erie Otters at EIA

You can tell the Erie lifers by what they call Erie Insurance Arena. Built originally in 1983, Tullio Arena (named after former Erie mayor Louis L. Tullio) replaced the Erie County Fieldhouse as the home of minor league hockey in the city of Erie, Pennsylvania. Homage to the past Erie Blades can be found in the rafters of the recently renovated EIA as well as alternate jerseys in the classic blue and yellow worn by the new tenants, the Erie Otters of the OHL.

In May of 2012, after years of proposals and deliberation by the city, the arena located in downtown Erie adjacent to Jerry Uht Park would not only receive renovations to improve the exterior, main entryway, interior and seating, but would also receive a naming deal that is currently worth $3 million. The venue’s new occupancy for an Otters’ game is 6,500 and on a Friday or Saturday night, it is felt.

4.1

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    4

Food and drink have improved significantly from the original arena to the concessions you'll find in Erie Insurance Arena now. Set up in a horseshoe shape around the arena, the main concourse features many different concession stands all serving the same items with a few specialty items at the larger stands as well as a nice wide screen TV of all the action on the ice. You have your basics covered with hot dogs, burgers, fries, chicken fingers, assorted candies, and pretzels as well as a special Mexican food concession stand and roving beer carts. The prices are all very fair, and two people can easily eat for under $20. Beer is also priced very well for a hockey game. You can get a large draft of Molson for just $5 dollars.

Atmosphere    4

The Otters enjoyed great success when current NHL player Brad Boyes was captain of the club and led Erie to an OHL Championship in 2002. Since then, the playoffs have been somewhat of a rarity for Erie until the 2013-14 campaign. The Otters opened the season with 19 straight home victories. This has led to packed houses almost all game nights and the atmosphere is the real winner.

Much like many hockey teams now, there is incorporation of lighting during introductions and a giant inflatable tunnel that is used for the main introductions and has been for many seasons. The crowd is always cheering and music accompanies every goal and fight and it really feels like the contained craziness that makes minor league hockey so exciting. The in-between period entertainment usually consists of a local junior hockey team playing a game or games that involve fans sliding around on the ice. There aren't a lot of frills utilized, nor are any needed.

Neighborhood    5

Erie Insurance Arena is just off of State Street which hosts most of Erie's weekend night life. There is a great selection of bars and restaurants that can meet the interest of almost anyone. If you're looking for a more classic bar, try Plymouth as this Erie staple is almost always filled.

If you're more into music and lights, Docksider and the Cell Block are more your style. If you're looking to try some of Erie's locally brewed beer or a tap house feel, there's The Brewerie in the old train station or the Erie Taphouse. If you're looking for a place to sit and grab a bite, there is Calamari's Squid Row or El Toro Loco for Mexican food. Moral of the story: there are tons of great choices to choose from just a block away from the arena.

Fans    4

The fun atmosphere is because of the fans. There's always a strong contingent of season ticket holders at games, but often a majority of the fans are made up of locals who decide at the last minute to attend the game, so be sure to arrive early if you do not have a ticket. I have made the mistake of showing up just 20 minutes before puck drop and was met with a continuously growing throng of fans looking to purchase tickets at the last minute.

Once inside, the fans are a great mixture of young and old, families, and everyone in between. You see plenty of Otters gear as well as Sabres and Penguins fans sporting jerseys looking for another night of hockey fun. The penalty kills may be the most engaged the fans are all game, which just shows that there's a pretty knowledgeable fan base inside.

Access    4

Getting to and finding parking for Erie Insurance Arena is pretty straightforward. Just a few minutes from the Bayfront Connector (Highway connector of I-90 and I-79 through downtown Erie) the arena is very easy to get to from any direction. There are two mass parking facilities on the first base line block of the adjacent baseball stadium: an open lot and garage that both charge $3 for event parking. There is free side street and State Street parking every day after 6PM, however be careful of odd/even parking instructions during snow season. It is not a far walk from several other lots that empty after work hours. The new renovations have greatly improved handicap accessibility, as it is almost all ramps and very few stairs inside the arena.

Return on Investment    4

You're going to get bang for your buck at EIA. Not only are tickets in the lower bowl of seating very cheap ($19 for adults, $10 for those under 18, $14 for seniors), but there are almost always deals of buy one-get-one-free at local sponsors. Tickets drop $2 if you sit in the upper bowl, but there's almost no difference in view as the entire arena has a very cozy feel. Combine this with the great atmosphere you get and the great concessions/beer and you have a great night of hockey for your family at a better price than a single admission to an NHL game.

Extras    4

I have been lucky enough to view the club/suite area of the stadium when I went, thanks to a friend, and if you're looking to splurge for your party, a suite is a fantastic option with plenty of beer and food selections available.

Also set up around the concourse are plenty of booths with 50/50 tables, jersey raffles and giveaways set up by the Otters or sponsors which help kill time and offer a pretty good reward if you're looking to pass time or are feeling a little lucky.

Also, Erie currently has Connor McDavid on the roster through the 2015 season. Why is this important? He's been projected as the number one selection in the draft since he was 15 years old and is heralded as the next Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma has been spotted on more than one occasion at a game along with other NHL big wigs to see McDavid play because he's even better than advertised.

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Crowd Reviews

You Otter See the OHL in Erie

Total Score: 3.86

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

The Erie Otters have called Erie Insurance Arena their home since 1996. Prior to relocating to Pennsylvania, the Otters belonged to the city of Niagara Falls, where they were known as the Niagara Falls Thunder.

Erie immediately made the first three seasons count, notching a playoff berth in each year, but failing to make it past the first round. In 1999, it clicked for the Otters as they won three straight division championships. The 2001-2002 season saw the first OHL league championship come home to Erie, led by highly-respected General Manager Sherwood Bassin.

Since then, the Otters have struggled to remain competitive. In the 2012 OHL Entry Draft, the team finished last in the league, being rewarded with the No. 1 overall pick. Erie used that selection on 15-year old phenom, Connor McDavid, who was granted "exceptional status" before the draft deadline. While capturing Rookie of the Year honors, it still was not enough, as the Otters finished second-to-last in the league again in the 2012-2013 season.

The arena was under major construction at the time of this review at the end of the 2012-2013 season, so many things will be different by the time the 2013-2014 season rolls around. The team is reportedly up for an under-the-radar sale, so the renovations are expected to be a power play by the city in hopes of making Erie a more attractive destination and to keep its OHL team.

You Otter Go

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

Attended a weeknight game in the newly renovated arena, and the crowd was relatively small after a record was set in their home opener. Concourse is spacious, seating bowl is nice and new and you can move around without any issue. Street parking is plentiful, avoid the $4 garage. Pepperoni balls are $3 and the only thing there that I found unique. Beer is a good bargain.

Would like to see this place when it is full, the fans stayed to the end and were rewarded with a last second winning goal which really made the place rock. Worth visiting if you are in northern PA in the fall or winter.

Reno's Make the Old Tullio Shine

Total Score: 4.14

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

With the renovations now complete, and the team once again enjoying success, a trip to Erie is more fun then ever before. The Erie faithful are already known as the OHL loudest, and with the upgrades, they have one of the best looking rinks aswell.

If you have never been to the Tullio (Erie Insurance Arena), what are you waiting for?

The concession prices are great, the new seats comfortable, and the hockey is amazing!

Always look forward to my trip to Erie, but the upgrades to the entire facility makes it even better.

The fans may be a little rowdy, but they are knowledgeable and always willing to talk about their team.

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Local Food & Drink

The Crooked I  (map it!)

1013 State St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 459-0040

http://www.thecrookedi.com/

The Cell Block   (map it!)

1213 State St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 464-9176

http://thecellblock.com/

U Pick Six Tap House  (map it!)

333 State St

Erie, PA 16507

(814) 520-5419

http://www.upick6.com/

Molly Brannigans  (map it!)

506 State St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 453-7800

http://www.mollybrannigans.com/

Jekyll and Hyde’s Gastropub  (map it!)

8 E 10th St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 456-0072

http://www.jekyllandhydeserie.com/

Calimari's Squid Row  (map it!)

1317 State St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 459-4276

http://calamaris-squidrow.com/

The Plymouth  (map it!)

1109 State St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 453-6454

http://plymouthtavern.com/

The Brewerie  (map it!)

123 W 14th St

Erie, PA 16501

(814) 454-2200

http://www.brewerie.com/

Local Entertainment

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