The Hershey Bears have quite a bit of history to fall back on . Founded in 1932, the team is the oldest continuously-operating professional ice hockey team in North America, outside of the "Original Six" of the National Hockey League. Originally known as the Hershey B'ars and once even as the Hershey Chocolate B'ars, the team is also the oldest member club of the American Hockey League.
The Hershey Bears Hockey Club is a wholly owned sub-division of the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, an entity administered by the Hershey Trust Company. The Milton Hershey School is funded by that trust.
The team has also won quite a lot during their history, having won 11 Calder Cups and 22 conference championships.
The town of Hershey was started by Milton Hershey as a place for his employees to have comfortable homes, inexpensive public transportation, a quality public school system and extensive recreational and cultural opportunities. The town is still a quaint and pleasant place.
On the outskirts of the town sits the area surrounding Hersheypark. For the sports fan, the Hersheypark Arena is a notable venue on this area, as well as Hersheypark Stadium (and, of course, the Giant Center). Originally known as the Hershey Sports Arena until 1972, the historic 7,286 arena opened in 1936 and was home of the Bears until 2002. Lebanon Valley College ice hockey and Shippensburg University ice hockey still use the arena for home games, as well as being used as a public ice rink. A 2012 fire damaged parts of the arena’s roof, although luckily, no substantial damage occurred.
The Giant Center opened in 2002. Built by Populous, the same developers of the new Yankee Stadium in New York and Wembley Stadium in London, it is owned by the Derry Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority. The arena also was the home of the Harrisburg Stampede indoor football team for one season in 2014 and is a major concert venue for the region.
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 are many options scattered around the Giant Center concourse. One of my favorites is the Aroogas Wing Shack. A half-dozen wings are $8, with a combo for $14.75.
Soda is $3.50 and $5.50 around the arena.
Hot dogs ($5), popcorn ($3-$5.50), pretzels ($3.50), cotton candy ($3.25) and French fries ($3-$6.50) are some of the other options.
I also like the Uncle Andy's pretzel stand, where $4.25 gets you a very good pretzel.
There are a few beer stands, with a nice variety of specialty brews. Prices vary, depending on the standard or craft beer option.
The variety of food around the arena is quite impressive. There is nothing minor about the Giant Center in this regard.
The arena invokes memories of the old Hersheypark Arena. You can almost close your eyes and forget you are in a new arena. But even with your eyes open, you will witness a fantastic old hockey barn kind of arena. It really takes the best of the old and mixes it with new, modern amenities.
The arena's interior also feels light and bright compared to many darker arenas. The sightlines and sound are all just excellent. It is one of the best arenas built in decades. It just has that near-perfect "feel" to it.
Team mascot Coco the Bear roams some of the lower concourse engaging kids and adults alike. His presence works well and does not interfere with the game action.
There have been some complaints that the arena needs a new scoreboard, as the one that has been in the arena since opening day offers none of the cool features that newer ones offer, such as the one seen at Santander Arena in Reading. And it doesn't. But the main scoreboard is still in great shape, offers the necessary stats and game information. Its older video system still holds up well. So there is no need to put the arena down because of the scoreboard. If in 10 years the original scoreboard still is in use, that may be a different story.
There just happens to be a major amusement park located right next door to the arena. That makes this neighborhood different than the standard sports arena. It also means that you will not see the usual assortment of neighborhood bars and restaurants that an urban arena may have. But that does not mean this is still not a great neighborhood.
Your first stop should be the Troegs Brewery on Hersheypark Drive. Offering guided and self tours, as well as a great tasting and food room, the Troegs folks make you feel at home.
If you're looking for more standard dining options, then you will find a Red Robin and Fuddruckers all in the area. I might suggest checking out a lesser-known option, the Parkside Bar and Grill (3 E Derry Rd Hershey, PA 17033), as they have some great burgers and other bar food options.
This is one of the most knowledgeable hockey fan bases I have ever witnessed. No matter the age or sex of the fans, they know the rules of the game and are loud at all times. This is a wonderful and intense place to watch a game.
Hershey is located not too far from Interstate 81 and 83 via Route 322 and other smaller roads. This means that access is pretty good, although if numerous events are all happening in the area, one should expect some traffic. One should also expect that the traffic heading back towards Harrisburg will be heavier than in other directions.
Route 743 off of Route 322 turns onto Hersheypark Drive and is the main drag outside the arena and Hersheypark.
There is plenty of parking in the large lots between Giant Center and the amusement park. You will never have trouble finding a space, although $12 is not the cheapest parking option around.
Once inside the arena, the concourse can be pretty tight and crowded.
The AHL is a high-quality league, so the price range of $21 to $27 for basic seats is pretty standard. Coupled with the parking fee, the game is a fair value.
Chocolate World is almost certainly a required stop before a game. Stop in and take the free ride that displays the processes involved in chocolate production. And you get a free candy sample afterwards, so it is a win-win. Then try to tear yourself away from the food and souvenir options as you head to the game. Of course, a chocolate shake handmade here is a no-risk proposition.
Of course, if Hersheypark is open, it may be worth a trip to the amusement park prior to a night game. The historic park has numerous great rides and attractions that will suit a fan of any age. Sky Rush, The Great Bear and Lightning Racer are amazing roller coasters.
If you can find a way into Hersheypark Arena, there is an amazing sense of history. Not only the former home of the Bears, the arena was also the site of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. The arena is open for some public ice time, as well as the home of Lebanon Valley College ice hockey and Shippensburg University ice hockey, so look for those as ways into the venue.
I also like the Hershey Kisses used as part of the arena signage around the concourse of the Giant Center. That is something you don't see everywhere.
Check around the arena for other displays and acknowledgements of the long and storied history of the Hershey Bears. Very few teams have the amount of history enjoyed by this team.
Giant Center is frankly one of the best sporting venues around. It takes the best looks and atmospheric elements of the past and adds the modern amenities expected by today's audiences. This arena is a must visit for a sports fan.
The Giant Center is a newer arena, with ground being broken on November 8th, 2000 and seating around 10,500 for hockey. It is home to the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The Bears are a tradition rich team with 11 Calder Cup Championships to their credit. The team, along with the Giant Center is owned by the Hershey Chocolate Company and is located at the edge of Hershey Park, essentially across the parking lot from all of the other Hershey attractions. The Giant Center is a real nice facility, but read the review for a full look at the game day experience.
Don't know what game you were at, but I had the opportunity to go to a playoff game and the crowd was into the game (be it was a first-round game). I loved going to the Old Hershey Park Arena and Hershey has some of, if not the best, hockey fans in minor league hockey.
Was surprised to see such a modern place. I was expecting to see the old Hersheypark Arena just with a new name but this place is a great new arena. Parking is easy and I enjoyed our afternoon rooting on the Bears.
Hershey fans are great. The only thing that is lacking is the neighborhood. Unless you're going to an amusement park, their is nothing.
If you ever want to truly attend a special place for minor league hockey, then Hershey, Pa., is a must for any traveler. In the AHL where many arenas are built for NBA teams, the Giant Center is the perfect setting for the game of hockey. The crowd is a dedicated brass who have been supporting the team since 1937 and the focus here is hockey. If the fans do not agree with a call, they will let the refs know about it. The Bears are among the tops of hockey attendance in all of minor league hockey year after year. Also, if you have a little extra time, visit their former home the Hersheypark Arena that is the Fenway Park, Lambeau Field and Wrigley Field of hockey.
While the Giant Center lacks the history of its predecessor, this arena takes a back seat to no other in the AHL. With its curved roof designed to evoke memories of Hersheypark Arena, this rink houses the most rabid fanbase in the league. Do yourself a favor and sit in the lower level. Anyone over 150 pounds will find fitting into the upper level seats problematic, to say the least.
I love Hershey Bears hockey and the Giant Center does a great job of honoring the team's history. The size is perfect for AHL hockey and fans are here for the action on the ice and nothing else! If you can attend one minor league game, make it a Bears game!
114 W Chocolate Ave
Hershey, PA 17033
200 East Hershey Park Dr
Hershey, PA 17033
3 E Derry Rd
Hershey, PA 17033
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