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Official Review by Robert Pryce, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Sheffield Steelers were the first professional Ice Hockey team in Great Britain when they were founded in 1991. The Arena opened in the same year with a capacity of 8500 bringing ice hockey to arena-size crowds and therefore breaking many attendance records in the UK. Other teams followed suit which has helped to grow the sport in the country. Due to the demand they added another 1200 seats to the arena.
The Steelers, named in honour of the city's industrial past, were the last team to win the British Premier League in 1995 before the formation of the new British Ice Hockey Super League. In the 2000-2001 campaign the Steelers completed a Grand Slam, becoming only the second club to win the Autumn Cup, League, Challenge Cup and Playoff Titles in the same season. They retained the Play-off title the following season, the first team to achieve this in the Super league era.
The Elite Ice Hockey league was formed in 2003 and since then the Steelers have won the 2nd highest number of titles, inferior only to arch rivals the Nottingham Panthers. However they have won the most league titles with five compared to the Panthers one. This rivalry has also produced the record attendance in the Elite league set at Sheffield Arena at 9,200.
With the recent creation of the Champions Hockey League in Europe and Sheffield’s recent success at home, some of Europe’s top teams have come up against the Steelers with them winning their first game against European opposition at the 7th attempt in September 2016 vs Red Bull Salzburg, the current Austrian Champions.
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".
Sheffield Arena offers a very basic and average selection of food and drink; the few items that are on offer are not of the best quality and are expensive. Beer comes in 3 sizes; the 'Supa Pint' which costs £9.60, a pint at £4.80, and a half. A glass of wine cost £5. Pizza, chicken, burgers and hot dogs are the only food that is on offer. A pizza slice or a burger will set you back £5.
The Arena has good acoustics as it is also used as a concert hall. This amplifies the crowd noise well for a half full venue creating a good, fun atmosphere for all ages. There are restricted view tickets but these seats are clearly marked and as a game rarely sells out these can be easily avoided. You can also get close to the action for the same price as it costs for the 'nose bleed' seats adding to the atmosphere.
Sheffield is a very historic industrial city with lots to do and see with many sport venues as well. The area around Sheffield Arena is very clean and easy to navigate with plenty to do before and after a game. There is another Ice Rink where you can hire skates and is open early to late next to the Arena. There is also the main shopping centre very close called 'Meadowhall.' Across the road there is a retail park with plenty of chain restaurants and bars including 'Coast to Coast' and 'Frankie and Benny's.' A Cineworld cinema and bowling alley are also a walk away. For a drink the 'Noose and Gibbet Inn' is highly recommended.
The venue creates a good level of noise due to it also being a music venue. The fans that attend ice hockey in Britain are very passionate and this is no different for the Steelers fans. Creative chants and songs are always sung throughout the periods of play. The younger fans also like to get involved banging the glass and chanting just as loud as the adults. The fans are friendly and create a welcoming atmosphere. They are very proud of their history in the sport and are very vocal about their main rivals the Nottingham Panthers.
The Arena is situated a few minutes off the M1 making it ideal to reach by car as you can avoid Sheffield city centre. There are plenty of parking opportunities at the stadium and if you pre book it will only cost £5 instead of £7 on the day. Public transport is also a very easy way to get to the Arena as it is out of the city center. Tram and bus lines regularly service the area. The Club website will have more details on or before the day about any special arrangement as well as give out more information.
Access is available for disabled spectators with viewing areas, ramps, lifts and plenty of toilet access as well. However long queues may occur due to a weak signal when scanning in tickets with a new system that has just been put in place, so do not leave it too late to arrive.
Tickets cost £17 for adults and £6 for children which is normal for ice hockey in Great Britain. However with little extras and expensive food prices that can drive the cost of the day, there are better value for money options to be had elsewhere.
There is a competition throughout the game which gives you the chance to win cash or a jersey. A fair priced programme at £2 and merchandise stalls around the arena offer the other extras during the game.
Many fans of other sports in the UK might be surprised to experience such a following for ice hockey in their country, and a visit to the professionally run Sheffield Arena to watch one of the top sides is well worth a visit. The Yorkshire countryside is famous for its beauty while the city has a fascinating history just waiting to be explored, so a full weekend can be had from a visit to the Steel City.
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Sheffield, Yorkshire S9 5DA
+44 114 223 3900
298 Attercliffe Common
Sheffield, Yorkshire S9 2AG
+44 114 243 4109
Attercliffe Common Road
Sheffield, Yorkshire S9 2LU
+44 871 527 8964