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Official Review by Ryan Rohde, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nestled in the Inland Northwest is the home of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Spokane Chiefs, the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, or Spokane Arena for short. The Spokane Chiefs were founded in 1982 as the Kelowna Wings, but were relocated from Kelowna to Spokane in 1985. The Spokane Chiefs were WHL Champions in 1991 and 2008 and won the Memorial Cup both years as well.
The Spokane Arena opened on September 10, 1995. The Chiefs played in the old Spokane Coliseum (nicknamed the Boone Street Barn) from 1982-1995. Spokane Arena has a capacity of 10,759 for hockey games, but this multi-purpose arena can hold over 12,000 people when used in its capacity for basketball or other events. The arena features both a lower and upper bowl with the lower bowl offering padded seats for comfort.
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".
Spokane Arena offers fans plenty of options for food and beverage when visiting and while lines can get long depending on the size of the crowd, it can be well worth the wait.
The arena offers some different options depending on what you are wanting. If you head over to Tortilla Junction, you can pick up my personal favorite, Totchos. This concoction features tater tots, nacho cheese sauce, beef, beans, sour cream, salsa, and olives for $6.50. They also serve burritos, taco salads, and nachos supreme among other things.
The arena also features the usual food you would find in an arena setting such as hot dogs, popcorn, and candy among many other options. You can also head over to flip side grill for a cheeseburger, but remember that fries cost extra so you end up spending about $10.50 for a cheeseburger with fries. Coca-Cola is the featured soft drink at the arena and is served bottled ($3.75) or fountain. Fountain sodas are $4.25 for a medium or $4.75 for a large.
Beer and alcohol are served. Your domestic beers (Coors Light, Bud Light, Budweiser) are all served and you can get them on tap or in the aluminum bottles. You can also head over to the Red Tail at the Arena to also enjoy a glass of wine or some hard alcohol. The arena also features the Boone Street Taproom which features local and regional craft beers and the Jameson Pub features a selection of Ireland's famous brews.
The arena accepts debit/credit cards for concessions.
Spokane Arena has a fantastic atmosphere for both the casual and hardcore hockey fan. Groups can rent out their many suites or group areas.
The arena features a bowl shape with a lower and upper level. The seats in the lower level are padded and have cup holders. The seating in the upper level are not padded, but have cup holders. The seats are comfortable, but the width is not that big so at times, you can feel crammed in your seat.
The arena has suites that offer catering if you are planning a group event. They also have two group areas for Chiefs games that you can rent out, the Napa Corner and Washington's Lottery Crease. The Napa Corner is located below section 108 and offers second row views of the ice due to the barriers they put. The Washington's Lottery Crease offers a bigger space and offers first row views of the ice.
The Spokane Arena has one video board, but it is one of the largest video displays in the entire WHL. The video board was replaced last season and now offers a full video display. The replays are fantastic and the Chiefs added in an above net camera for even better replays. The screen features high definition camera views as well. The only knock is that the arena only has one video wall so depending on where you are sitting, you have to turn around to watch replays or anything else being displayed. Spokane Arena has an LED strip that almost goes completely 360 degrees around the arena and shows the score of the game, the time left, and the player and penalty time in two spots. The other use of the LED is to announce groups, birthdays, and to show the out of town scoreboard among other things.
At Chiefs games, you'll hear the music to say "charge" and then the fans chant, "Go Chiefs Go" to a beat and depending on the attendance, that chant can get loud. The Chiefs mascot is Boomer the Bear and he is very interactive with the fans. Don't be surprised if the friendly mascot comes and sits in a seat next to you or in front of you when you visit.
The sound quality inside the Spokane Arena is fantastic and you can hear the PA announcer as well as the music with ease. Music is played between any stoppages of play and during intermissions as well.
Seating options vary for Chiefs games and can cost as much as $22 to sit on the glass and as little as $10 to sit near the top of the upper level, but there really isn't a bad seat in the building. Sightlines are fantastic and you really cannot find a bad spot in the building. My recommendation for a seat is in the lower level, specifically in sections 109, 110, and 111. In my opinion, they offer some of the best seats in the arena as you will be able to see all the action unfold.
Spokane Arena is located just north of downtown Spokane across the Spokane River. Many restaurants and bars are just minutes from the arena. Hotel accommodations are also located just minutes away. You are going to need to drive to get to these places but none of the places are far away.
If you are looking for a place to eat and maybe have a beer or two either pregame or postgame, 24 Taps Burgers and Brews is going to be a place you would have to check out or even PF Changs China Bistro if you are looking for a delicious dinner.
Riverfront Park is a must visit if you come to Spokane. Although, currently under construction for improvements to the park itself, just come and walk around or maybe take a ride on the Spokane Falls Skyride Gondola. Want to see a movie? Head over to River Park Square's AMC Theater where feature films are shown at Dolby Cinema or their IMAX screen. If you are willing drive, you can head to nearby Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and walk on the world's longest floating boardwalk or if you are visiting around Christmas time, the Coeur d'Alene Resort offers one of the world's best holiday light shows.
There are many lodging options located near Spokane Arena. The Red Lion on the River is located within a mile from the arena or the new Davenport Grand Hotel is located just across the river. The historic Davenport Tower Hotel is also an option for lodging.
Spokane Arena is a building that usually ranks in the top 5 in WHL attendance every year and regularly ranks in the top 10 in CHL (Canadian Hockey League) attendance every year. These fans know what they are talking about and show up to support their team.
Attendance is very good at Spokane Arena throughout the WHL season. The Chiefs frequently amass 200,000 people through the door during their 36-game home schedule. The stadium is not generally at capacity, but can get very close depending on the night . Special promotions can also attract higher attended games.
The crowd can get loud, but it usually is prompted by the PA announcer or on screen prompts. They do stay involved and cheer throughout the game. The "Go Chiefs Go" chant is common throughout the fan base and is a part of the game day experience in Spokane.
There are many ways to get to Spokane Arena and once inside, moving around the concourse is usually easy.
Spokane Transit Authority buses can get you to the arena. Depending on where you are lodging would depend on how long and how much it would cost to get to the Spokane Arena. The nearest airport is the Spokane International Airport.
Parking options vary, but the arena features huge parking lots. It is $6 to park in general and handicap accessible parking and $10 for premier parking near the front doors of the arena. There are other parking options around the arena and the parking generally ranges from three to eight dollars. Traffic flow getting out of the arena parking lots and out of the area can be challenging especially on busy game nights.
The best gate to enter the arena would either be the southeast corner (near the Chiefs ticket office and the team store) or the suite entrance, which the general public can use. This offers the fastest lines as you will have to empty your pockets and walk through metal detectors before entering the arena. No weapons of any kind are allowed inside the arena so if you usually carry a knife or are a concealed carry license holder, you'll be directed back to your car to put those away if those items are on you. Tickets can be bought at the box office or online via Ticketswest. Paperless is not an option, but if you buy at home, you can print them out yourself.
Moving around the arena can be easy, but if it is a busy game night then the lines for the concession stands can get in your way. The main concourse does not have a view of the ice, but screens around the concourse feed off the video board showing game action if you are waiting in line. The restrooms in the Spokane Arena are kept very clean. You can expect a line on busy game nights but they usually move very quickly.
Handicap accessible parking is available in the arena parking lot for six dollars. The arena also offers handicap accessible seating in quite a few sections. The ease of access can be difficult at times if you have someone in a wheelchair. Handicap accessible and family restrooms are located throughout the concourse.
You get your money's worth when coming to the Spokane Arena, but it can get spendy at times as well.
The range of ticket prices ($10-$22) is perfect for what you are paying. The Chiefs offer Senior/Student/Military discounts of $2 off your ticket price and all Child tickets are $10. If you go with a bottle of soda and the totchos (my personal recommendations) you will spend $10.25. You have so many options for food and beverage and where you want to sit that the return on investment is fantastic.
The Chiefs offer ticket packages throughout the season including a military night where active and non-active military personnel can get tickets for a discounted rate of $14. They also offer the Fred Meyer Family Pack which gets you four tickets, four hot dogs, and four sodas for $40.
If you are looking to save a bit of money, then buy tickets in the $10-$15 range. You will end up in the upper level but there isn't a bad view in the arena. You can also look around the area for different parking options as well.
The Chiefs offer free programs at all home games and they are available as soon as you enter the gates at the arena.
The Chiefs team store is in the southeast corner of the arena. If you are inside the arena, it is at the bottom of the grand staircase. The Chiefs also have a kid's zone where kids can play video games, try their luck at a slapshot, get their face painted, or even get an autograph from Boomer the Bear during the third period.
The Chiefs have four championship banners, 1991 WHL Champions, 1991 Memorial Cup Champions, 2008 WHL Champions, and 2008 Memorial Cup Champions. The Chiefs also have the number 14 retired in honor of Ray Whitney.
The Spokane Arena is a great place to catch a Spokane Chiefs game. The arena offers a good variety food, great views from the seats, a fantastic video board, and many other options for fans to enjoy the game. The one thing that this arena needs to make it complete is a center scoreboard and video board to make it easier for every fan to see.
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