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Official Review by Tracey Mitchell, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Knoxville Ice Bears play in the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, in Knoxville, Tennessee as members of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). This is a large facility with an auditorium on one side and the coliseum on the other. The Coliseum seats approximately 4,500 people and the auditorium side seats approximately 3,850.
The auditorium is used for music and theater productions and sometimes is in use at the same time as the Coliseum. There are parking garages on each side of the building as well as metered parking on the sides of the road and parking lots a few blocks away within easy walking distance. Parking in the garages can be purchased online when you buy tickets for the game for an additional $5.
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".
The food gives off a great aroma when you step inside the doors of the Coliseum. The prices are average for a sporting event with hot dogs at $3.50 and nachos with cheese at $4. They have a Black Angus Grill in the main entrance hall that offers beer on tap and basket meals with chicken sandwiches, hamburgers or cheeseburgers with fries ranging in price from $6.99 -$8.99.
There is no outside food or drink allowed in the facility, but there is no bag check as fans enter the arena.
When you go to the concessions areas on either side of the arena, there are floor to ceiling windows with the downtown cityscape of Knoxville that is visible. The facility is warm for hockey; therefore the need to bundle up or layer clothing is not needed compared to some hockey facilities.
There are entrances on both sides of the arena and each side has access to its own parking garage for $5 a day. There are 4-5 foot walkways around the whole arena, allowing easy access to the upper and lower balcony levels.
Seats are comprised of typical stadium seating made of wood. There are box seats against the glass at the ice level. If you sit on the side with the penalty boxes, you can correctly see the logo for the Ice Bears on the floor. All seats, except sections K, J, T, and D have good views. These sections are oddly tucked in each corner of the building and face the end of a section of seats at a 90 degree angle. These sections watch the whole game with their head turned to one side.
There is really no fan access to the player benches except for the VIP box seat sections on that side. There is a mascot named Chilly the Ice Bear and he is very active throughout the facility during the game as well as on the ice during intermissions. The team also has a cheering/dance squad of pretty young ladies called the Ice Bear Hunnies.
The sound quality and announcer are excellent and there are promotions and giveaways throughout the game.
Knoxville is a great city, home of University of Tennessee and Neyland Stadium as well as the site of the 1984 World's Fair. In the program that is given to you as you enter the game, it lists businesses, restaurants, and things to do within 10 minutes of the Coliseum.
There is a major airport in Knoxville and it is a circuit board of highways, freeways, and roads. With a GPS, there is no problem getting around and even rolling down a window and asking a pedestrian on the street for directions is not a scary scenario. The sidewalks and parking garages are well lit and there is security to direct traffic and protect pedestrians as you walk to and from the venue.
The Ice Bears are welcome to visiting fans. The fans know when the Ice Bears score and the announcer says, "He shoots" they answer with "He scores."
The club honors a veteran at each game and announce his service, give him the spotlight and the crowd gives him/her a standing ovation. The fans are fantastic here. It is a family oriented sporting event and they announce at the beginning of the game that profanity and ill actions will result in expulsion from the facility.
From the major highway, it is easy access to the facility. It's in a downtown section of Knoxville and is close the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Parking is $5/day for the garages next to the venue and $3 in some lots a few blocks away. The main concourse does not have a view of the ice but contains a large hall with ticket sales, the bar and grill, a store with Ice Bear merchandise and several concession stands with different food options.
Restrooms are handicap accessible and clean. Security is present in all areas of the facility and are friendly, yet attentive to their surroundings.
A Knoxville Ice Bears game is well worth the investment of tickets and entertainment. Everyone in attendance receives coupons for free food items for local restaurant chains and Dick's Sporting Goods.
During my most recent visit, they offered a discount on every item in their store as a Christmas promotion. The night we attended, they had Elsa and Anna from Frozen that young children could get their pictures taken with for free and they had a parade during the first intermission with all the children that dressed up like princesses. There are promotions for each game, you just need to check the team's website or call the box office.
Programs are free. They have a kids zone with a bouncy house and field hockey set up for kids who want to play. Children do not have to belong to the kids club to have access to this area.
The staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The team offers a link on their website about how the ice is made and they offer a link to the beginning hockey fan called "hockey 101."
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