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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of Delaware (UD) is the largest university in Delaware. It is a privately governed university which receives public funding. The school from which the university grew (Academy of Newark) was founded in 1743, making it one of the oldest in the nation. However, UD was not chartered as an institution of higher learning until 1833.
U.S. News & World Report ranked UD's undergraduate program 30th among public universities in its 2017 rankings. The university's programs in engineering, science, business, hospitality management, chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry and biochemistry have been highly ranked.
Fred Rust Ice Arena was built in 1971. The complex also hosts the Gold Arena, which is an NHL-sized rink.
The facility is home to the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens men's and women's ice hockey teams competing at the club level. The men's team competes at the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I level in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League; while the women's team competes at ACHA Women's Division II level in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference. It is also home of the University of Delaware Figure Skating Club and University of Delaware Synchronized Skating Club.
The Blue Hens men’s team won the 2012 ACHA Division 1 National Championship on March 7, 2012.
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".
There is a very small snack bar with an even smaller number of seats located in the right corner after the arena entrance. They have a simple menu but still some nice variety. Because of the ice skating groups and individuals who spend many hours at the arena for practice, they obviously want to offer may food options. It is a good choice while attending a game.
There are also snack and soda vending machines located near the visiting team side of the arena. Prices are cheap and they have good options here as well. I particularly like the coffee machine, that also sells chai tea.
The arena has a main grandstand along the home side of the rink. It is nothing fancy and is pretty much metal bleachers. The best seats are the ones with a blue enhanced bottom cushion. It seems like nothing much but it really does help the comfort level of the fans. Across the ice, the visiting team bleachers are just metal alone.
The atmosphere is pretty simple. This is a place to watch a good level of college hockey and not much more. They do offer spaces for kids birthday parties and other group events.
There is a very good pro shop called Crystal Sports located in the lobby. It is place to get your serious hockey and ice skating gear. They will also sell some Blue Hens merchandise inside. Other team merchandise will be sold on temporary tables inside the arena, next to the rink.
Newark (pronounced here as New-Ark) is a great college town. There are numerous food options on East Main Street that will fill you up before or after a game. Grain Craft Bar+Kitchen is a new craft beer and food restaurant on the far upper part of East Main that offers some great choices.
Other popular options are Catherine Rooney's Irish Pub and Grotto Pizza. El Diablo Burritos offers huge, but affordable, burritos with an amazing variety of options. Try their mahi mahi tacos as a nice alternate.
Parking on East Main Street is always a bit of a problem. There are many public lots, but note that they may be behind buildings and hard to find. Many restaurants offer validation for the public lots.
If you do not want to fight for parking, head the opposite way from downtown Newark and towards the gigantic Christiana Mall area. Right before getting there is a Border Cafe, designated only with a large "EAT" sign. Their large and varied menu offers great Tex-Mex & Cajun options at a pretty cheap price. Try the catfish fajitas with a side of jambalaya.
Numerous dining and lodging options are prevalent around the Christiana Mall area, although if in search of lodging, one should look at the Embassy Suites located across from the baseball stadium.
Around the corner from the stadium, behind Rust Arena, is the campus-run UDairy Creamery. Stopping for a pre or postgame ice cream cone is a must.
The fans here are very knowledgeable. The Blue Hens teams have shown great success over the years so the fans expect to see quality hockey action.
Some of the fans are obviously family and friends of the players. There are also quite a few youth hockey clubs that attend the games.
Fred Rust Arena is easy to reach, and is only a couple miles off of Interstate 95. You may have to pay some tolls, although locals will know how to avoid them as much as possible. Coming from points south on I-95 getting off at Maryland Route 279 will avoid the toll pretty easily, and it is a short drive to the stadium.
Tickets are a reasonable $6 each. There are some options for group tickets and special events.
Because of the fairly high quality and level of action, the return on investment is quite high.
Check out the banners and memorabilia for the various UD hockey teams. The teams have shown great success, including winning the 2012 ACHA national championship.
While you are looking at the banners, make sure to look at all the awards and information in regards to the various UD ice skating programs and their success. This is a facility that is known to be the spot where the best of the best come to practice.
Speaking of "the best" you will also see items displaying the various high level ice skating talent that trains there, beyond just the UD teams. World ice skating champion Kimmie Meissner is just one of the individuals that made the Rust and Gold arenas their home rinks. If you get there early or stay late after a game you may even see these talents in person.
The University of Delaware has some very serious hockey teams, not to mention a high level ice skating program. The Fred Rust Ice Arena is not flashy but is a great place to watch a very good level of college hockey.
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102 E Main St
Newark, DE 19711
483 Stanton Christiana Rd
Newark, DE 19713
270 E Main St
Newark, DE 19711
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