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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL (North American Hockey League) celebrated their 10th year in the 2013/2014 season, all played at the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Kay Yeager Coliseum is part of the Wichita Falls Multi-Purpose Events Center
From the beginning, the Wildcats have been dedicated to helping young hockey players realize their full potential. Since the start of the 2004 season, over 100 former-Wildcats have gone on to play collegiate hockey, with 51 of those players making commitments to Division 1 institutions in conferences such as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Hockey East.
Watching a Wichita Falls Wildcats game at the Kay Yeager Coliseum is an entertaining evening and one worth the visit if in the area.
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 three permanent concession stands in the venue; no additional carts or kiosks. There is a Mexican stand offering fajita wraps, tacos, nachos, etc. with prices ranging from $3 - $4.50. Unique to a hockey arena, there is a sandwich concession stand which offers such things as linguisa on a pretzel bun, sweet potato waffle fry, grilled meatloaf sandwich, Greek spinach cheese tacos and more, ranging from $3.50 - $5. And there is a pizza stand offering cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and hamburger pizza from $3.50 - $4.
Apple juice, orange juice, ice cream, candy, pretzels (some stuffed) are offered in the arena. The juice offerings seem a bit different to me than other minor league hockey arenas.
There is a variety of brews for purchase including: Bud, Bud Light, Miller products, Shock Top, Land Shark, and Coors products ranging from $5 or $7.50.
At the concessions stands, there is a register for cash only and a separate one for credit cards (all the concession stands seemed to accept both; just a different line for payment).
Expect lines at the concession stands between periods.
All said, Kay Yeager Coliseum offers a pretty diverse amount of offerings for a minor league hockey venue.
It is ho-hum. The music is way too loud. You have to yell at your neighbor to talk with them.
The temperature at the rink is fine. Wear a couple layers if you're one who tends to get chilly. No gloves, hat, or blanket are needed in this arena.
There is an upper and lower seating level separated by a walkway. The patrons perusing the walkway do not interrupt with the upper level fans watching the game. The seats are the red plastic fold down variety with no cup holders. There are ten suites from which corporate or affluent fans can watch the game.
In the upper level of each corner of the seating arena, the seats are covered with black plastic tarps.
The PA announcer is muffled and did not repeat scores or penalties so unless you are familiar with his cadence or the team, it is difficult to follow/score the game. Listen closely to the first time he announces a play; you won't hear it again.
There is a booster club called Wildcats Pride. On the concourse, there is a table that shows a remarkable display of pins and pucks with the players' photos on them. I had not seen players' photos on pucks before. It is very nicely done.
If you like sitting center ice, facing the benches, above the glass - choose section 42. Row three in the upper level (first row, really) is a decent area.
For the most part, you can get a ticket, and then move to different areas of the rink to get different photo opportunities and views of the game. Being able to do that is a nice feature of a hockey arena / game day visit.
The Wichita Falls Wildcats team salutes the fans after the game by circling the center ice mark and raising their sticks to the fans.
Wichita Falls is not a very happening place on a Friday evening. There are a lot of one way streets and stop signs while driving through downtown and not a whole lot to see or do.
Although the waterfalls are now manmade (the original falls were washed away in a flood in the 1800's); it is worth it to take a look at the waterfalls of Wichita Falls. Once getting to the park, it is about a mile walk (to and from) and is worth the visit.
Two restaurants walking distance to Kay Yeager Coliseum are McBride Land & Cattle Co (steak place - keep in mind they open at 5:00 pm), and El Gordo (Mexican). Walking from the restaurants to the coliseum is plenty safe.
A LaQuinta Inn is about 2.4 miles from the coliseum and is a recommended place to stay if visiting from out of town.
The fans have cowbells, voices, and horns to cheer their Wildcats on. They appear to welcome the visiting teams' fans with no animosity (it IS junior hockey after all).
Kudo's to the Wildcats fans as one player from the opposing team was sprawled on the ice for several minutes after a play without getting up. When he finally did make it to his skates and off the ice with the assistance of his teammates, all the Wichita Falls fans applauded in a nice touch for his well being.
DFW (Dallas Fort Worth Airport) is about a 2 ˝ hour drive to Wichita Falls. There is an airport in Wichita Falls that greets and returns flights from/to DFW via American Eagle Airlines.
I did not notice any public transportation to/from the Kay Yeager Coliseum. Arriving and leaving via car is easy; parking is uncomplicated and is at no charge.
The concourse is wide enough but do expect to squeeze through lines at the concession areas as you take a trip around between periods.
Restrooms are fine, serve their purpose, and are clean.
Ticket prices range from $10 to $15 and no additional charge is added for purchasing tickets the day of the game. Wish more places would do that. With free parking, reasonable food and drink purchase prices, and a hockey game, it is well worth the price of admission.
Game day rosters can be purchased for $1 at a Wildcats booth on the concourse.
The Wildcats have a nice link on their website that shows former players and where they went.
If plans get you to Wichita Falls, TX in the fall/winter, do check out visiting a Wildcats game at Kay Yeager Coliseum. It is a valuable evening of entertainment. I don't necessarily recommend making a special trip just to see the team unless you are a family member or a close friend of one of the players.
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510 Scott Ave
Wichita Falls, TX 76301