Upon first glance, it looks like Michigan State University did some significant planning during the cold war. In 1974, Michigan State built Munn Ice Arena and named it after former football coach and athletic director, Clarence “Biggie” Munn. It was great for MSU to have a facility dedicated only to ice hockey, but it was built in a way that it resembles a bomb shelter.
The exterior of Munn Ice Arena is nothing to write home about, and when you enter the arena, the design doesn’t blow you away either. Being built in the seventies, you have an arena that falls in between the classic historic design that you would find at Yost Ice Arena at rival Michigan, and a modern marvel with a whole host of amenities.
If this was where the story ends for you, then you are really missing the boat. A few more steps inside Munn, and you quickly begin to notice that the Spartans have done a spectacular job of creating one of the top atmospheres in all of college hockey. The fantastic décor, and nod to the history and accomplishments of Michigan State hockey have made Michigan State a must see for all college hockey fans.
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".
You will not be blown away by the options at the concession stands at the Munn Ice Arena, however you will also not be leaving hungry. All of the options at the concessions are what you would expect. Soda, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs and pizza are all available. Soda products are provided by Pepsi and as with most NCAA venues, alcohol is not available. A couple of things bump up the score for the Spartans. There are a number of different combos available with popcorn and a drink for a decent price ($11). Also, the presence of Tim Horton's coffee, hot chocolate and French vanilla for $2.50 are necessary in conjunction with the cool temperature in the arena.
The Spartans have really become overachievers as far as providing a wonderful atmosphere for hockey. This building lacks any sort of curb appeal, and really looks like a bomb shelter. Inside you find possibly the most non-descript design for a hockey arena. What Michigan State has done with so little is really amazing.
First of all, there is green ... EVERYWHERE! The harsh concrete that is all over the arena has been softened with the pre-eminence of Spartan emerald green.
The Spartans have also done a spectacular job of showcasing their vast history. Just about every way possible, on just about every wall surface, the Spartans are showcasing everything that makes their hockey program special.
There are large murals commemorating Spartans who have played in the Olympics and National Championship winning goals, and National Champion team pictures. The two Hobey Baker Awards awarded to Ryan Miller and Kip Miller are on display. There is a huge collage of pictures of MSU championship teams and a collage of Spartans in the NHL. There are also two memorial displays for former athletic director "Biggie" Munn, and former hockey coach, and winningest coach in the NCAA, Ron Mason.
There is no real concourse at Munn Ice Arena, but plenty of room to walk around, behind the seating bowl. It is easily the most open concept arena that I have ever seen. If you decide to leave your seat, you will not miss a moment of the action, as you can see it from pretty much everywhere. The seating bowl features 4 rows of chair seating, followed by 13 rows of backless benches. It is not the most comfortable seating there is, but it is not awful.
Above the ice there are numerous banners for various CCHA championships, and Frozen Four appearances. The most distinguished banners, of course, commemorate the National Championships of 1966, 1986, and 2007.
What seems like a fairly unique feature for hockey, but screams college, is the presence of the Michigan State band. Taking up one corner of the arena, the band blasts away during stoppages in play, and marry the hockey atmosphere with the college atmosphere.
Located smack dab in the MSU campus, the Munn Ice Arena is a bit of a hike to the off campus eating establishments. However, like any college town, there are a few options. Georgio's Gourmet Pizza is an option to the west and Harrison Roadhouse is an option to the east. Either way, you will either need your car, or the energy for a brisk walk.
The 2012-2013 season was definitely a down year for Spartan Hockey. Nevertheless, the fans continued to fill Munn Ice Arena. A healthy mix of students and local fans, Michigan State fans are fairly intense and pop loudly when their team does something special. With the Spartans getting a slow start, the fans also got off to a slow start during my most recent visit, but were really into the game once the Spartans got on the scoreboard. The atmosphere is perfect for bringing out the family.
Munn Ice Arena is located between the Breslin Center and Spartan Stadium. It is easy to get to, as it is just northeast of I-495, and just south of Michigan Ave. Being so close to the football stadium offers ample parking available for gametime. Parking is $5 at Spartan Stadium.
Inside the arena, moving around is no problem at all, and the washroom facilities are just fine.
Tickets for Michigan State hockey run $20 for the benches, with higher prices for the chairs. Concession prices are pretty good and parking is not too expensive either. Couple the price factor, with the fast-paced action of one of the elite programs in college hockey, and you have a recipe for a great night of sporting action, fit for the whole family.
An extra mark for the clever production crew, who played Billy Joel's "Piano Man" at 9 o'clock. The first lyric in the song, of course begins: "It's 9 o'clock on a Saturday ..."
An extra mark for the Spartan band which adds a richness to the game that makes it different from your average hockey game.
An extra mark for the vast history on display at Munn.
Michigan State is one of the elite hockey programs in the NCAA. If you are making an adventure to see college hockey, then MSU should be part of that adventure. What makes the Spartan experience amazing, is that they make the most out of an outdated facility, and at no point do you ever figure out that you are missing out on something. Sparty makes everything seem right.
Follow Dave's sports journeys on Twitter @profan9.
For 323 games, in a period that extended from 1985-2003, Munn Ice Arena sold out every single game. It is either fortunate or unfortunate when you visit today that the streak is no longer in effect. The availability of tickets is a good thing, but I would love to see this venue when it is packed with fans.
An unremarkable, but comfortable venue, Munn Ice Arena has been the home of Michigan State Spartan hockey since 1974. The arena holds 6,470 when at capacity, and provides fans with mostly green plastic bleacher seating with slightly below average leg room.
College hockey is one of the best environments to witness the sport, and a trip to Munn Ice Arena is no exception.
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East Lansing, MI 48823
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