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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Schneider Arena is a small on-campus arena located in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. It serves as home to Providence College's men's and women's varsity hockey teams. In addition, many local youth teams call Schneider Arena home, as does the Rhode Island Interscholastic State Championships.
The arena was named after the Reverend Herman D. Schneider, O.P., the founder of Providence College hockey and a longtime teacher at the school. It was built to bring the popular Friars hockey team back on campus, as they played their home games at various rinks around Providence, including the old Rhode Island Auditorium. Ironically, before 1973, the school's basketball team played on campus at Alumni Hall, and the hockey team played off campus. In 1973 the basketball team moved off campus to play at the Providence Civic Center and the hockey team moved back on campus into Schneider Arena.
The Friars compete in the Hockey East conference along with many of the top teams in New England. They have qualified for 12 NCAA tournaments, reaching the Frozen Four on four occasions. Providence College won the national championship in 2015.
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There are a pair of concession stands in Schneider Arena's lobby. One stand features Dunkin' Donuts products, specifically their wide variety of flavored coffees. Unlike the Dunkin' Donuts Center downtown, Friar fans can purchase Munchkin donut holes here.
The other concession stand features your basic arena food, including hot dogs, pizza slices, chicken tenders and nachos. Fans looking for a snack can choose from pretzels, cotton candy, popcorn and assorted candies. Healthier choices available include hummus and fruit cups. The quality of food here will not wow anyone, but no item on the menu costs more than six dollars, with the majority of items costing four dollars or less.
Coca Cola products are sold at Schneider Arena. No alcohol is available at this on-campus facility.
With Schneider Arena's tiny size, you would think it would be a loud place with an intimidating atmosphere for visitors. While Providence College has had a lot of success over the years at home, Schneider Arena is not as intimidating a venue as perhaps it should be.
Rhode Island hockey fans are as knowledgeable and dedicated as any in the country, but here at Schneider Arena, they tend to be laid back, coming to the games more to enjoy the action than to be part of it. Even the student section is tame by local standards. Taking in a game at Schneider Arena is a pleasant, relaxed experience.
Schneider Arena is a visually pleasing facility, with several murals decorating the walls, and a large four-sided video board hanging at center ice. This board is put to good use with replays and crowd shots during play stoppages. During intermission, games featuring other Providence College teams are shown on the board. Younger fans in attendance will certainly enjoy the dance cams, emoji cams, chuck a puck contests, and other diversions presented during intermissions and play stoppages here.
Schneider Arena is located on the northeast corner of the Providence College campus in the residential Elmhurst section of Rhode Island's capital city.
Providence has a reputation as one of the top small cities in the nation for culinary options, but there are not a whole lot of eateries near the PC campus. There are few small pub style restaurants near Schneider Arena, most notably the Abbey, best known for their collection of signature burgers and wide variety of draft beer.
Fans looking for a place to stay will need to head downtown to find lodging, as there are no options within walking distance of the Providence College campus. Fortunately, downtown Providence is only about two miles away, and features numerous places for dining, lodging, and entertainment.
PC's attendance fluctuates a bit from year to year, depending on the team's success. During the 2015-16 season the Friars averaged just under 3,000 fans, or 98% of capacity. Providence College annually averages around 2,700 fans per game. Tickets are generally available right before game time, but games with traditional rivals BU, BC and Brown are tougher tickets. Providence's membership in Hockey East ensures that top competition visits Schneider Arena regularly.
Despite Rhode Island's hockey-mad reputation, hockey plays second fiddle to basketball here at Providence College. The student section, located at the north end of the arena, fills up for big games, but can be surprisingly empty at times. With several rivals located close to Providence, it's not unusual to see many visiting fans at Schneider Arena.
With Schneider Arena's location in a residential neighborhood on the north end of Providence, the majority of fans drive to Friar hockey games. The Providence College campus is located about a mile from Interstate 95. Parking is plentiful around the arena, either in a new two-level garage adjacent to the facility or on street right around the arena.
For those fans using public transportation, RIPTA's number 55 bus has a stop directly next to Schneider Arena, which stops hourly at the facility. Check here for schedules and maps.
Recent renovations to Schneider Arena completely reconfigured the facility. Fans will enter into a modern, if smallish lobby, which contains the concession stands, rest rooms, a souvenir stand and displays honoring Providence College's long hockey history, including the championship trophy won by the Friars in 2015.
Fans will enter into the arena through one of three vomitories which lead onto a walkway which completely encircles the arena and cuts the seating bowl in half. All the seats in the seating area are individual silver stadium seats. The small size of Schneider Arena ensures excellent sight lines from all seats, although many of the upper level seats feature views that are obstructed by safety railings and foot traffic on the walkway. The seating bowl is raised about three feet above ice level, putting fans right on top of the action.
Getting around Schneider Arena is easy, with enough room to navigate your way around the facility. Lines do form at concession stands during intermission, but they move quickly. Likewise, restrooms are new, clean, and large enough to handle a typical intermission crowd.
All tickets for Providence College hockey cost $20, which is a bit on the high side for college hockey in this area. This high cost is offset by free parking at Schneider Arena, and the inexpensive cost of concessions. Overall, a night at a Friars game is an affordable option for Rhode Island hockey fans.
Extra points are awarded for the displays all around Schneider Arena that honor Providence College hockey's history. Displays honoring Providence's Frozen Four teams, Olympians, Alumni who have won the Stanley Cup and who have represented their countries in international competition all line the lobby walls. Plaques commemorating Friar All-Americans, both men and women, line the façade of the luxury boxes.
Inside the arena, Providence has eschewed the tradition of hanging banners from the rafters. Instead, conference championships, NCAA tournament and Frozen Four appearances by both the men's and women's teams are painted on the walls of Schneider Arena.
During intermissions other Providence College games are played on the video board at center ice and on screens located in the lobby.
Fans can pick up free roster sheets by the press box and free posters are handed out at the chuck a puck table.
Fans who have not visited Schneider Arena in some time will be in for quite a surprise upon entering the facility. What used to be a sleepy, tired rink has been transformed into a modern, attractive facility. Despite the renovations, Schneider Arena has managed to retain much of its cozy charms. Fans making the circuit of college rinks in New England should include Schneider Arena on their itinerary.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by jmwerner on Feb 28, 2012
Schneider Arena has been the home of Providence College Friars hockey since 1973. Named after the founder of the men’s program, it seats a cozy 3,030. The building has historically been a tough place for visiting teams to win, with the Friars boasting a .588 home winning percentage over the 38 seasons prior to 2011-12. When not being utilized by the Friars men’s or women’s hockey programs, the arena sees heavy use from local youth and high school teams.
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