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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Richfield Ice Arena opened in 1971 and has had many uses over the years. This complex has two ice sheets, a hockey equipment store, open skating, and various youth leagues. The bigger sheet has a capacity of 1,800 and is home to the Minnesota Magicians as well as two local high schools. The smaller ice sheet has a few rows of bleachers in various spots and is mostly used for open practices and your league games.
The Minnesota Magicians play in the NAHL or North American Hockey League. This league features players from ages 16-20 hoping to make the jump to college or the professional ranks. The Magicians franchise started in New Mexico in 2010 as the Mustangs but folded in 2012. The franchise moved to Richfield, Minnesota and began play for the 2013-14 season.
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 selection at Richfield Ice Arena is basic and what you would find at most high school venues. Food selections offered in the $3-$3.50 range include pulled pork sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, hot dogs, pretzels, and nachos. The pulled pork sandwich is tasty and worth the $3.50 price tag.
Snacks such as candy and popcorn are in the $1-$2 dollar range. Various beverages are sold including hot cocoa, coffee, pop, and water for $2. Beer is sold in 16oz cans for $3, and the stand is in the seating area for convenience. Beer sales are cut off before the start of the third period.
The concession area is somewhat hidden, but there are signs directing you there. As you walk through the main entrance, the ice arena is easily visible. The concession stand is to the right of the seating area and in a corner. While waiting in line, fans can see various trophies and memorabilia from local youth teams. There are a couple of televisions mounted to the wall to keep fans entertained. For those wanting a quick snack and not wait in line, vending machines are in the main entryway as well.
Upon entering the doors of Richfield Ice Arena, you get the vibe that this building is a multiuse facility. Besides watching the Magicians play, you could likely see local youths walking through for practice, people getting ready for open skating, or shopping in the hockey equipment store. The Magicians play in the western end of the arena and it is very well marked as you walk in the main gate.
Once past the ticket booth, the Magicians portion is roped off so there is some barrier between the NAHL game and the other activities going on here. For a true fan experience, fans or visitors can check the ice schedule for open skating. Nothing like trying out some skating in the same building as your hockey game later that night.
Richfield Ice Arena has one seating bowl with six rows of seats around the building. All seats are close to the action. There is some assigned seating at center ice for those who want to pay a few extra dollars for a choice seat. However, the rest of the building is general admission and there are no bad seats in the building. One interesting attribute about this arena is the fact that the concourse is behind the top row of the seating bowl. The benches for each team are on the opposite end of the main seating area. It is quieter on that side as most fans sit near the exit and concession stand area. As a result, it is fun for fans sitting by the benches to hear the coaches and players throughout the game.
The ice surface is sunken below ground level. There is a walkway by the glass but most foot traffic follows the concourse path. The concession stand is outside of the playing area in the main lobby. Beer sales, a souvenir stand, and future ticket sales booth is located on the main concourse. The concourse is very easy to walk through and doubles as a nice standing room only area. There are a few barstool type seating areas along the concourse and fans take advantage of these when eating or as a place to set their belongings. Restrooms can get cramped, but are conveniently located outside the main concourse area near the concession stands.
The Magicians do a good job trying to get their fans pumped up before the game. The Magicians replicate the smoke entrance used by the Miami Hurricanes football team when entering the ice. Enter Sandman by Metallica blares during the entrance. For the starting lineups, Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project blares. It is the same music used by the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
The music played during stoppages is well timed. One complaint I have is the lights being dimmed in the arena during intermissions and before the game. This is a drawback for fans who want to take some pictures of the arena before play begins.
The promotions team does a good job keeping the fans involved during stoppages on the ice. Promotions include: a drawing for two lucky fans to upgrade to leather recliners for the game, a frozen t-shirt contest, and a chuck-a-puck contest. The frozen t-shirt game was unique and something I hadn't seen before. The object of the game is to unroll a frozen t-shirt and put it on. The first to do so wins a prize.
Richfield Ice Arena is located in a residential and commercial area in Richfield, just outside Minneapolis. There is a park on one side and houses on another side. There aren't any restaurants in the immediate area near the arena, but a short two mile drive in either direction yields chain restaurants, hotels, and stores. Champps restaurant is located a couple miles west of the arena and is a good meeting place before or after the game.
A few miles south of the arena is the Mall of America shopping complex. The Mall of America is the largest indoor shopping complex in the United States and one of the biggest in the world. For fans planning to see a game and make a weekend out of it, there are plenty of entertainment options within a five minute drive south of the arena. Hotels and restaurants for every budget are located near the Mall. If some of your family or friends want to spend more time than you wish at the mall or various stores around it, seeing a Magicians game can be a good diversion or distraction while others shop.
The Magicians franchise began play in late 2013 and it is still a learning process for fans and the team alike. Cheers and chants are non-existent. Cheers after a goal is scored are vocal but that's about it. As this franchise gets more experience and fans are more attached to the team, I'm sure this will change. One easy fix this team can try is some music after the Magicians score. Even something like the classic Gary Glitter song would pump the crowd up and maybe start a chant or two.
Richfield Ice Arena is very easy to get to and well-marked. It is located on East 66th Street between I-35W and Cedar Ave, two major north/south highways. Both highways have exits for 66th Street which is convenient while trying to drive to the game. Parking is free and plentiful. The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is a few short miles away as well. The light rail does not go near the arena but several buses do. The Twin Cities area has one of the better transit systems in the country and with patience, public transportation is an option.
The tiered pricing that the Magicians offer is a good touch for fans who have varying budgets. Tickets range from $8-$13 and are worth the money. For fans who want the best view, they can pay a few extra dollars for it. Fans who want to get in the door and move around a bit, they can buy a cheaper general admission seat and move around. Fans who don't mind not sitting at center ice can buy a cheap seat, a snack, and a beer for the same price as a choice seat.
A couple of bonus points are given for the attention to history of the building, the NAHL league, and the local schools who compete in this arena. There is a huge poster along the concourse with the championship teams listed, famous NAHL alumni featured, and various local school trophies and pictures. The NAHL alumni was a great feature given the fact that the Magicians began play in the NAHL in 2013. Famous NAHL alumni included Patrick Kane, Kip and Kevin Miller, Phil Kessel, Jack Johnson, Ben Bishop, Ryan Miller, and Brandon Saad.
Richfield Ice Arena is a cozy place to see a hockey game. There isn't a bad seat in the building, food and drinks are cheap, the arena is easy to get to, and parking is free. The Minnesota Magicians franchise is brand new and with further education and advertising, this can be a very successful franchise in the world of junior hockey.
Member Review by Wild Fan on Mar 17, 2014
A Magicians game is a great event for anybody interested in quality hockey. The ticket price is reasonable, especially given the fact that every seat in the building puts you right on top of the action. I have been to a couple games where the attendance is just shy of 1000 and the place has a great atmosphere.
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