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Official Review by Dan Van Wie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Holleder Center is a facility adjacent to Michie Stadium, which is home for the Army football team. The Holleder Center houses the Army basketball and hockey teams.
While the Army basketball team plays at Christl Arena, the hockey team plays at Tate Rink. The hockey team started playing their games at Tate Rink in 1985, the same year that the Holleder Center opened. Things have clearly evolved for the better, because for the first 26 years of the Army hockey team program (1904-1930) the team played outdoors. There are rumors that a chicken wire fence surrounded the rink back then, but I wasn’t able to confirm that.
The facility seats a maximum crowd of 2,648 fans, and the availability of tickets depends on the opponent they are playing. For example, the Army versus Navy game is always a sell-out.
The game I attended against Robert Morris was also sold out. It was a promotion night, as the Army hockey team was wearing special blue uniforms to raise awareness for colon cancer. The crowd received a t-shirt to commemorate the event, and that helped to increase the crowd.
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".
You won't be allowed to bring in any outside food or drink to Tate Rink. So, if you are really hungry, the recommendation is to grab a dinner at one of the restaurants in town, as the food offering would be classified as more light filler food rather than something of substance for dinner.
The offerings include hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jacks, cotton candy, potato chips, candy, ice cream and frozen lemonade. You could also purchase soda, water, vitamin water, coffee and hot chocolate. The venue does not sell alcoholic beverages.
The price for everything on the menu ranges from $2-$3.50. The ice cream products go for $4.
While the football team is able to shoot off a cannon after a score, the hockey team doesn't enjoy that kind of a salute. But the hockey team does offer benefits to their fans that the football team can't match.
For certain games on the schedule, fans are allowed to bring their skates and skate around with the team on the ice after the game. That is a very cool perk for Army hockey fans to enjoy.
Between the hard hits and checks into the boards, there was plenty of action to keep the crowd entertained. In between periods, there were various planned activities that included kids racing on the ice and Army cadets throwing t-shirts up to the crowd.
Tate Rink doesn't allow any noisemakers into the facility, so you are able to really hear all of the sounds you would hope for from two college teams playing hockey; the sound of the skates on the ice, the hard checks, the puck hitting the glass and the players communicating on the ice.
The only break in the action from listening to two teams playing hockey was the music that they played during time outs.
Since Tate Rink is located on the West Point campus, you will not find a more impressive campus to go visit. Between all of the statues of famous American leaders that graduated from West Point, and the historical significance of what happened at this location in U.S. history, the neighborhood warrants the highest possible rating.
This is the best of the best, America's finest, so anything less than a perfect five stars would be disrespectful.
If you are planning an overnight visit, local places to stay range from Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern, the Ramada in Fishkill and Newburgh, Fairfield Inn in Spring Valley, Homewood Suites in New Windsor, Holiday Inn in Middletown, and Catlin Gardens in Slate Hill.
In terms of where to go for dinner, here are some restaurants in surrounding towns, such as; Cathryn's Tuscan Grill in Cold Springs, The Stadium Restaurant and Museum in Garrison, Highland Falls Market in Highland Falls, The Park Restaurant in Highland Falls, and Loughran's Irish Pub in Solisbury Mills.
The crowd is a mixture of friends and family of the hockey players, as well as friends and family members of various cadets that wanted to attend an event together. Another pocket of fans would be the local citizens that enjoy watching college sports, or are just hockey fans.
In addition, you can see other Army personnel walking around, as there are alumni that return for a visit or they could be an instructor at the school. The education at West Point is one of the highest ranked programs in the nation. For the sacrifices that the cadets make for their country they are true heroes.
There wasn't much tailgating going on before the game like you would typically see before and after an Army football game. After the game, the crowd headed directly to the parking lot and dispersed for home or wherever they were staying for the night.
Once you are inside the Holleder Center, it is quite easy to move around to your seats. The walkways are wide enough to accommodate the crowd, and there was a large throng that had gathered in front because of the free promotion giveaway.
Don't try to cut it short and try to arrive at the last minute. Due to the need for tight security measures on a campus such as West Point, you should expect a longer line of cars that have to pass inspection before they are waved through. The closer you arrive to the start of the game, the better the chances are that you might get hung up in that line of cars.
So, plan to arrive early. Once you are inside the campus, it is a relatively short drive to the parking lots that are in the lot above the arena. You walk downhill from the parking lot to the facility.
Individual game tickets range in price from $11-$13. If you have a group of 10 people or more, you would qualify for a group discount rate.
Army hockey also offers discounts for three and six game mini- plans. For a current three game, it would cost you $30 for bleacher seats, or $36 for chairback seats.
Parking is free. So between the ticket prices, the free parking and the inexpensive food, you can see that you get quite a nice return for your money.
For people that are really into Army Sports, this would be the appropriate place to mention the Army A Club. This club donates to the Army Black Knights sports program on an annual basis. The donation is $199 and then the season tickets are $125. For that amount, donors receive their own tables to sit at along the glass.
For the hockey games, the Army A Club seats are located at one end of the ice in the corner, close to one of the goals and fans are able to enjoy an all-you-can eat food menu, which ranges from chicken parmesan, sausage, mashed potatoes, pasta, macaroni, and beef sandwiches. These season tickets are good for both the men and the women teams, which makes them a very solid investment return. For basketball games, these Army A Club tables and seats are located first row courtside .
For more information on Army tickets and prices, you can either visit goarmysports.com or call 1-877-TIX-ARMY.
When the Army hockey team is introduced, they come out on the ice in spotlight, arranged by jersey number.
If you arrive to the game early, walk around Tate Rink to observe the many plaques and tributes to the hockey program. There are pictures of old teams, and dedication to fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice in defending their country.
For fans that are able to arrive early in the afternoon, the best way (and only way) to have a tour of the campus is to go on the guided bus tour, which takes you over a large portion of the campus. You will learn some interesting history about the institution, and it will give you an even greater appreciation for how special this place is.
Speaking of history, anybody that is a history buff may want to consider adding a second day to your visit, as you almost need a full day to take in all the displays found in the museum on campus. The museum houses the largest collection of Unites States uniforms worn in combat throughout history. It also has a huge collection of weapons used in combat on display.
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