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Official Review by Andrew Kulyk, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The DEL, which is the German Hockey League, runs the gamut of venues from glitzy NHL style arenas to small, musty, open air ice sheets with little more than a canopied roof. Here in Munich, the facility falls somewhere in between: The Olympia Eishalle, located on the grounds of the Olympic Park which hosted the 1972 Olympic Games, was actually constructed before the Games were even a consideration.
Opened in 1965, the arena was built as a multi-purpose facility for ice sports such as hockey and figure skating, and warm weather events such as basketball and table tennis. Today this 6,136 seat arena is the home of EHC Red Bull München.
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".
It's a pretty simple and spartan food offering here. There are four concession stands, one on each side of the square shaped concourse line, and they all sell the local brew Lowenbrau (€3.50), assorted Coke and Fanta products (€3), Red Bull energy drinks (€2.90), and then each stand has its own signature burger or sausage (€3.50) such as the bockwurst, bratwurst, currywurst or frickadelle. That's about it.
It is important to point out here that the Eishalle is unheated. And it is chilly. So fans need to bundle up as in the seating bowl the temperature hovers somewhere about 10C/50F. But that doesn't deter the energy of the building, which is over the top cool.
The game day presentation is simple. There is the most basic of dot matrix boards, a four sided one, perched over center ice, and two video boards in the stands, one in each corner. End zone supporters lead the cheers, lighting up the stands with sparklers in a darkened venue, and for the ceremonial faceoff, two young girls dressed in traditional Bavarian garb step out to lead the festivities. From there the fans take over the event.
The grounds of Olympic Park are bucolic, wonderfully picturesque and walkable, and many of the structures used in the 1972 Olympics are still up and functioning today. The architecture looks brutally garish when looked at in today's context.
Right across the highway is the world headquarters of car maker BMW, and a massive museum and car dealership, as well as an assembly plant is located there. The television tower, about a ten minute walk from the arena, offers a restaurant and public viewing deck and is one of the tallest structures anywhere in Munich.
As for restaurants and eateries, Restaurant 181 at the top of the tower is available for a fine dining experience. La Terrazza , a few blocks away located at Brunnerstrasse 2, offers an authentic Munich beer hall experience.
Can we give a higher score than five stars? The crazed and energized fans here absolutely own the event, transforming a hockey game into a mini soccer venue experience.
The end zone crazies lead the charge, with flags, drums, sparklers, and non-stop chants. The PA announcer engages the crowd with thunderous player intros, with fans shouting out the last names of each player as they skate onto the ice. On goal announcements, the player gets feted by having his name called out three times.
Fans dance, they dress in costume, they mingle with the on ice action, and they stick around long after the game is over to party and cheer some more. Players return to the ice to lead the dancing and cheering. It is all good fun. You never want to leave.
There are no problems getting to the arena. There is ample on site parking (€5), and the lots can be accessed by exiting the Mittlerer Ring onto Lerchenauer Strasse. Allow ample time as the one entry and exit tends to get backed up. The U-Bahn station (Olympia Zentrum) is about a ten minute walk and offers easy access as well.
Standing room tickets (yes the end zones are all "Stehplatz") cost €18.75. Seats run from €31.50 to €47.20. Tickets are pretty easy to obtain, but be careful if purchasing tickets at the Eishalle as the adjacent ticket office has some weird hours and may not be open in the morning.
We will throw an extra point for the fans, because they are just so over the top awesome. Hockey here is more than just a niche sport; they understand the game and show their passion in many ways.
The second extra point goes for the adjacent hockey training hall and the sponsored youth programs. The facility is almost in constant use here by many people.
And the third point goes for the incredible history and iconic moments which happened steps from this arena in 1972. On one side, there's Mark Spitz and his amazing 7 gold medal performance, right next door at the Olympia Swimhalle. On the other side of the freeway, it is the site of Israeli athletes being murdered in what was one of the darkest moments in Olympic history.
A sports enthusiast's first thoughts when visiting Munich is to go see the powerhouse Bayern Munich soccer team at Allianz Arena. It's a good plan, but overlooking a stop here with EHC Red Bull München might be a huge mistake. It is a superb hockey and fan experience. Moreover, Munich is an amazing city to visit - the great architecture of Old Town and Marienplartz, the cultural institutions that go back hundreds of years, the great history, and the kitschy tourist attraction that is the Hofbrauhaus. This is a great destination for sports travelers.
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Munich, Germany 80809
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