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Official Review by Nick Stevens, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The CHL Arizona Sundogs call Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, AZ home. The term “Sundog” comes from an atmospheric condition in which ice crystals in the air creates the appearance of two suns in the sky. While the duel suns are reflected in the team’s S-shaped logo, their mascot is of the four-legged, tail-wagging variety.
Originally opened in 2006 as the Prescott Valley Convention and Events center, the arena is located in the town’s “entertainment district.” Along with the arena, the district has a collection of restaurants, a multiplex movie theater and a hotel.
Prescott Valley is a small suburban town, just 5 miles east of the larger Prescott. This beautiful area of northern Arizona is nestled in the mountains about halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
The Arizona Sundogs suspended operations for the 2014-15 season. The hope is to resume playing hockey in Prescott Valley in 2015-16.
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".
For food, there is the choice of the standard arena offerings, plus either Papa John's pizza or a taco bar. Hot dogs are $3.50 and pretzels $3.25, while the pizzas starts at $8.
Concerning beverages, a variety of 32 oz. sodas could be found for $3 and there is a nice selection of local craft beers in addition to the typical domestic offerings, at reasonable prices. The domestics are $4 while the 16 oz premiums would set you back a modest $5. The premium beers include Guinness, Grand Canyon, Fat Tire, Hop Shock and Alaskan Ale.
Modern and attractive inside and out, the arena itself is similar to others built in the last ten years. Upon entering, you are handed a single sheet program with the current stats for each team. The single concourse is quite wide and did not seem crowded, albeit the attendance when I was there was well below its 5,100 capacity.
The seats form a complete circle around the ice, with suites and a club seating atop the lower bowl. The first four rows closest to the ice are well padded while the seats above them are hard plastic. The temperature was comfortable and did not seem cold despite the paucity of people.
The arena is a part of a small collection of restaurants, a movie theater and a hotel, termed the Prescott Valley Entertainment District. The restaurants in the district seemed to be mostly national chains. Sit-down types include a Garcia's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Fuddruckers and a Chiles, while the fast-food varieties include a Wendy's, Pizza Hut and a Del Taco, among others.
Just outside of the district along Route 69 is your typical collection of suburban strip malls. Conveniently, also within the district, is a newish and well maintained Hampton Inn. The walk from the hotel to the arena is about five minutes and eliminates the need to drive. If you don't care to walk, the district is also served by a free circular shuttle bus. The Hampton is also the official hotel for the Sundogs, with most visiting teams staying there.
Just west of the arena neighborhood is the historic city of Prescott. Distinctively western, the downtown is arranged around a courthouse town square and teamed with restaurants and shops, including the Prescott Brewing Company and Palace Saloon, whose patrons once included Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.
The first night I was there, the Sundogs only drew about 2,000 fans, while the second night nearly 3,500. As Tim's Toyota Center holds over 5,000, the first night it seemed pretty empty. The people I talked to said that the club was very successful early on, winning the CHL President's Cup in their second year of existence, and frequently drew sell-out crowds. Originally an affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche and later the Phoenix Coyotes, today they are one of several CHL teams with no NHL ties. As the team has struggled in the standings the last couple of years, the attendance has fallen as well. A shame as this is a great place to see a hockey game.
While sparse, the crowd was approximately loud during key moments of the game and generated a fair level of noise. Other times, however, it was pretty quiet. So quiet, in fact, you could clearly hear both coaches yelling obscenities at the on-ice officials, which added an interesting new flavor to the game.
All the Sundog fans I met were exceedingly pleasant. Despite my wearing the opposing team's jersey, or perhaps because of it, people seemed to make it a point to say hello and thank me for making the trip.
Tim's is surrounded by free dirt parking lots. US Route 69 runs through Prescott Valley, connecting to I-17 to the east and Prescott to the west. Phoenix is about a two hour drive south, Flagstaff, via Sedona, is about an hour and a half north. About a 130 miles north lies the Grand Canyon. Prescott has a municipal airport, but it was far cheaper to fly into Phoenix and make the scenic drive up.
Tim's Toyota Center has plenty of bathrooms and there were no lines either night I was there. If you are bringing very young children, there are also two family restrooms making diaper changes a bit easier.
Sundog tickets start at $20 for the upper corners and go up to $40 for on-the-glass. A bit on the pricey side for CHL teams and given their lower than average attendance compared to other teams in the league.
I give one point for the Sundog's location in spectacular northern Arizona. There is absolutely incredible scenery here with Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon within a reasonable drive. The historic city of Prescott is also worth a visit. The proximity of the Hampton Inn earns a second point.
Hockey combined with the stunning scenery of northern Arizona make visiting the Sundogs a howling good experience. If you don't dog it, while not watching hockey, you can easily visit Prescott and Sedona or you can stray farther north to the Grand Canyon. Without much hounding, good seats and good beer can be dug up without spending too many bones.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Feb 24, 2013
Tim's Toyota Center is the only real "arena" north of Phoenix in Arizona, which allows it to host some events that Prescott Valley would have never dreamed of hosting before it opened, like Ringling Brothers Circus, Globetrotters, and fairly big concerts.
I really liked the Mexican food stand, really good food and not too expensive. The fans left something to be desired though, a lot different from when the team first started playing in PV.
130 W Gurley St
Prescott Valley, AZ 86301
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2901 N Glassford Hill Rd
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314