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Official Review by Christopher Hart, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The University of Kentucky Cool Cats are not a school funded team, but rather a club level hockey team. They compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) at the organization’s Division II level. Despite only competing at the club level, the team has a strong following among the student body. They are often regarded as the third most popular spectator sport at the university behind basketball and football. Due to the fact that they are only a club team, they do not compete in a university-owned facility but at a community ice rink known as the Lexington Ice Center. It is a rather small facility that only seats about 750 and is located in a residential neighborhood. In addition to containing an ice rink, the facility also has a biblical themed putt-putt golf course.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food selection is pretty standard and lacks any unique items. For drinks there are soft drinks, hot chocolate, coffee, Gatorade and water. As far as food goes you can get nachos, hot dogs, corndogs, popcorn, pretzels, candy and chips. It's essentially your standard sporting event food with the one nice benefit that everything is under $3. So what it lacks in variety it makes up for in affordability.
The arena has a very intimate atmosphere. All the seating is on one side of the facility and is very close to the playing surface. The seating consists of some very old and uncomfortable wooden benches, but it does not take away from the experience. As a spectator you feel very close to the action and it can get very exciting due to the large crowds. It definitely has the atmosphere of a popular college sports team while also having a very retro feel. The older nature of the Lexington Ice Center and the lack of modern amenities generates some nostalgic feelings for the way people used to watch sports. One thing to consider when attending a game is that the crowds can get a bit rowdy, as it is mostly college students and the games are late at night.
The Lexington Ice Center is located in a residential neighborhood so there is not a lot to do directly nearby. Wing Zone is the one restaurant located directly next to the facility. It is your typical wings and burgers type of restaurant. If you drive a few minutes on to Richmond Road there are a number of different food options for your pre and postgame enjoyment. There is a Hooters, City Barbeque, Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Shamrock Bar & Grille to name a few.
The Cool Cats typically have very high attendance and get close to their capacity for their games. The fans tend to be very participatory and involved in the game. During my most recent visit, it was very telling that on a Saturday night against a team they had played the day before there was still very good attendance.
Since it is mostly college students attending these games and because they are so late at night, you can expect there to be some drunk fans. You may have to contend with some drunk people yelling obscenities. I would discourage bringing younger children to these games because of this.
Finding the Lexington Ice Center can be a bit of a challenge as it is located in the middle of a neighborhood. It is close to New Circle Road which is the primary road that loops around the city of Lexington and gives you easy access to the interstate. Once you find the place it is pretty easy to get into the game. There are plenty of parking spaces and it is free. It takes only a moment to walk from the parking lot and down the stairs into the ice rink. One very unfortunate aspect for UK students is that the rink is about a 15 minute drive from campus, so it is tough to walk there.
Attending a UK Cool Cats game is a lot of fun as a college-aged adult. For only $7 you can purchase a ticket and sit anywhere you want. The atmosphere is fun and rowdy and food and drinks are pretty cheap. The Lexington Ice Center may be small with few amenities, but the atmosphere and fans are really the selling points of the experience anyways.
You may be surprised to find that there is a decent hockey following in Lexington.
One extra point for the mini golf course, something you certainly don't expect to find in an "ice center."
If you are looking for a fun and cheap way to spend your time between the hours of midnight and 3am, this would be a good choice.
Member Review by BlueNotesFan on Jan 18, 2015
The Lexington Ice Center has been around for quite some time now, with little renovations or changes being made. The atmosphere is unique, as the only viewing areas are a roofed indoor area near the goal line, and a few rows of bleachers stacked on top of each other at a steep angle. Though the LIC could use many touch ups, the UK Cool Cats fanbase continues to grow, and is one of the largest for club hockey, or University of Kentucky sports. Long lines appear before games, fans packed to standing room only. Many fans also visit to see High School hockey, and Lexington Thoroughbreds Bantam hockey. The LIC is one of the only places around 1,000 fans will get together and watch hockey in Kentucky, as no professional hockey has been around since 2003.
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