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Germain Arena

Estero, FL

Home of the Florida Everblades

3.3

3.6

Germain Arena (map it)
11000 Everblades Parkway
Estero, FL 33928


Florida Everblades website

Germain Arena website

Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 7,128

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Hockey's Surprisingly Germain to Southwest Florida

The last time you were in Southwest Florida (if, of course, you have ever been), you were probably enjoying the sugary-white sand of Captiva Island, the laid-back lifestyle of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, or you were captivated by the money that has settled in Naples and Marco Island. You were probably down on a winter vacation far from the ice and snow that covers your hometown in a blanket of permafrost from December to March, and rightfully so. But, did you know that, in seemingly-isolated playground designed to cure the winter blues, you're able to watch professional hockey?

Immediately adjacent to the other "Main Street" of Florida, Interstate 75, and halfway between Fort Myers and Naples, is the community of Estero and its Germain Arena. Built in 1998, this has been the only home the ECHL's Florida Everblades have known, as well as a host of concerts, community events, comedy shows, extreme sports, and more. Its proximity to both Naples and Fort Myers (as well as the large nearby communities of Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres) has made it the de facto top-tier arena of Southwest Florida, and honestly, it's not a bad place to take that title.

3.3

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    3

For such a small venue (more on-par size-wise with the FAU Arena than my last hockey arena review, the St. Pete Times Forum whose main tenant, the Tampa Bay Lightning, are coincidentally affiliated with the Everblades), there are a lot of eclectic choices: on-top of the typical choices, take your pick of Cuban, Italian, and a low-carb center for those trying to watch their weight called the Key West Deli. All the places gave an ample, if not an overabundance, of choices with prices that are average for a "major" arena. While you're not getting Mama's massive meatballs or Abuela's famous arroz con pollo dishes, they're good enough to leave you feeling full and content.

Atmosphere    4

There's no upper deck, nor space for one to be built easily. This may seem like a disadvantage, but that makes for a better experience by forcing all the fans to sit together; besides, the tickets fans at the Amway Center pay ten times more for, are standard here.

The in-game announcer kept everyone excited, even when the 'Blades went down 2-0 in the first, and were blanked 5-0 by the Wheeling Nailers, the sound throughout the Arena was excellent. The video board is an old colored dot-matrix that was outdated, but considering the venue's size, it's not as major of a flaw like the Jax Arena's ancient board.

Here's something I haven't said in a review prior, and it affords this arena a bonus point: not that any arena I've reviewed before is not family-friendly, but they go out-of-the-way to make it a great atmosphere for kids and adults alike. With kid-themed giveaways and intermission games, not only can you feel fine bringing the kids, it's definitely encouraged.

Neighborhood    2

There's really not one of which to speak. You have Florida Gulf Coast University just to the north, the Miromar Outlets shopping center to the immediate south, I-75 next to the parking lot, and golf courses and woods surrounding. Yeah, there are chain bars and restaurants in walking distance, but nothing you can't find anywhere else, so not really a positive. The good news is this dearth of entertainment options makes for easy ingress/egress; more on that in a moment.

Fans    4

Being the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, I saw those jerseys in the 2/3-full crowd, but I also saw Bruins, Wild, and the affiliated Lightning and Hurricanes sweaters, as well as plenty of 'Blades apparel to go around. For being a tropical mecca for thousands of tourists from the north every year, hockey, it seems, thrives just nicely thanks to these people looking for a great time and to spread their knowledge to the not-so-versed.

Access    4

Not only is the signage extremely clear on I-75, but you actually can't miss it from the interstate. Though there is no direct access from the freeway, simply get off the exit you're told and you're directed down a two-laned, cut-through-the-woods boulevard, only to turn west and go even more into the woods. For a pretty-packed house, there was no traffic getting in or out. Parking is plentiful and priced right for $5. The bathrooms are plentiful, clean, and well-maintained.

The lone point off resides with the concourse. It's super-wide, easily navigable, and well-signed. However, they commit a huge pet peeve of mine in not having it wrap around the building. I get that there's probably not a need since there's no upper-deck, but the seating is 360Ëš around the building, so why isn't the concourse? They may have their reasons, but it's still inconvenient to walk in the direction you think you're supposed to go, only to come to a wall and have to turn around.

Return on Investment    3

The tickets are cheap for seats other hockey metros would kill for, and the quality of play on the ice is usually exciting. The 'Blades, in their 13th season, haven't missed the ECHL playoffs in any season, with this one (2011) being no exception. And while it's minor league hockey, you may see one of those players someday playing in Tampa's Forum or Raleigh's RBC Center. It makes the price of admission worth it when you can say five years down-the-road, "I saw him before he was popular."

Extras    3

There may not be much offsite you can't do anywhere else, but the Arena offers a few special places you should check out, like the Breakaway Sports Pub, a popular bar and restaurant attached to the northeast part of the Arena, and the Big Cypress Club, a full-service restaurant for large groups.

One thing that's very unique, however, is the amount of suites available in this small venue. Above the last row of seats are the suites, and when I say "seats", I mean every last-row seat in the house has a suite (26 in all) above it, wrapping around the entire building. Plus, one of those suites is available to the public every game, so if you have a group of 10, pool your money and have a great night of hockey.

Plus, if that isn't enough, they make sure they include giveaways in every section they can. From free food to gift certificates to local businesses, you're more likely to walk out with something than not. How cool is that?

Final Thoughts

Other than visiting the now-demolished home of the Adirondack Phantoms, Philadelphia's Spectrum, for numerous games, I never had a close appreciation of minor league hockey. It was something I did when the Flyers were out-of-town, and it was fun, but nothing that made me want to follow the AHL religiously. That's probably why it didn't work in Philly.

On the flip-side, Southwest Florida may not be the premier hockey destination, but they're not trying to be; that lack of expectation is what makes hockey at the Germain Arena better than one would imagine. The fact you can enjoy good hockey without having to drive 120 miles to the parent club in Tampa, as well as have a great time all-around, makes this a fun time for the locals and tourists alike. You may be trying to escape the winter's grip, but a little ice and cold in Estero will make your evening a fun one.

Badk in the day (early 2000\'s) ....

...this arena used to be called TECO Arena. I visited there a few times. I remember the fans being fantastic and friendly as mentioned.

The hockey and medical staff were very efficient (fantastic) at one game I attended. A player got his face and eye cut up when another player's sharp skate sliced his face and eye (not intentional). Because of the speed and attention the staff of the Everblades gave this player, it saved his eye site.

I would go back in a heartbeat to see a game at this facility.

by megminard | Apr 14, 2011 03:55 PM

2012 Update

A little update on your last review. First the scoreboard: The Germ finally got rid of that 1980's dot matrix board and installed a video board for the 2011-12 season. Still the same scoreboard, just with the middle section replaced. So now the Everblades have moved from the 80's to the 90's... still not a modern jumbotron, but an improvement none-the-less..

The Concourse: Both the concourse and the locker rooms are at ground level, so the concourse wraps around the north, east, and south sides of the building while the locker rooms occupy the west end. I find this extremely annoying as well since the fans sitting on the entire west end of the building (sections 115-117) have to use the same narrow tunnel to access their seats as the Everblades use to get to the ice. As you can imagine, this section becomes extremely crowded during intermissions and at the end of the game. (The trick to avoid the crowd of people at the end of the game in 115-117 is to simply walk across the rows to use the exit tunnel in a less-crowded section. It's stunning to see how many people never think of that and wait in a large line to exit those sections). I do however, understand the reason why they chose to make the concourse and locker rooms both at ground level. It would have probably cost a ton of money to build the concourse up higher and building the locker rooms/ice surface below ground level isn't an option in Florida.

The "neighborhood": Although not within walking-distance, there are actually 3 upscale outdoor malls within a 5 minute drive of the Germ. Just these malls alone provide a huge number of restaurants and there are always new ones being built every few months, it seems. First is obviously Miromar Outlets which is just south of the arena and is actually connected by a small access road to the arena property. There is also Coconut Point Mall which is on US 41 and is about a 5-10 drive from the arena. Gulf Coast Town Center is less than a 5 minute drive north on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. GCTC probably has the biggest selection or restaurants of any complex in SW Florida. All of these are in addition to the many other dining options in the area. As long as you don't mind a few minute drive to the arena after dinner, your dining options are pretty much endless in the Estero, San Carlos Park, Bonita Springs and South Fort Myers areas.

by schinkelberg | May 21, 2012 11:01 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Okay if you need a hockey fix

Total Score: 3.57

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

The highlight of Germain Arena is the variety of concessions available. Atmosphere could have been better considering I was there on a Friday night. Easy access from I-75 although during the holidays traffic can be heavy because 2 major shopping centers are nearby. Also don't understand why the concourse doesn't go all the way around.

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Local Food & Drink

Marsala Italian Eatery and Pizzeria  (map it!)

20321 Grande Oak Shoppes

Estero, FL 33928

(239) 948-8443

http://www.marsalas.net/

Local Entertainment

Miromar Outlets  (map it!)

Corkscrew Road

Estero, FL 33928

(239) 948-3766

http://www.miromaroutlets.com/

Lodging

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