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Official Review by Matt Fiedler, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Times Union Center has been the home of the Albany Devils since 2010 but has been the host of AHL hockey since 1993. The team has found recent success which has helped the fan base as a whole. The Times Union Center is located in the heart of downtown Albany. There are some good things to do in the city before or after the game. It is close to hotels, restaurants, and transit options. It is also located right next to a parking garage. The Times Union Center is a solid place to check out. The building is clean and well kept. The Devils also share the arena with Siena basketball. Although the arena seats 14,000 the Devils usually curtain off the upper level. The fans make up for it though with their passion and knowledge of hockey.
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".
The food at the Times Union Center is pretty good, especially for a minor league stadium. Here you will find all the usual suspects. Hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, and candy are all found in large quantities. There are also some specialty foods that can be found. In the 2015-2016 season, the Albany Devils added a Dinosaur BBQ stand to the Times Union Center. The Dinosaur BBQ stand offers pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. There is also Papa John's pizza available at the Times Union Center.
There is a good selection of beer and other adult beverages. The Times Union Center is a Pepsi arena. The prices are what you would expect from a minor league venue. Dinosaur BBQ and Papa John's cost a bit more than the standard stadium fare.
The atmosphere at an Albany Devils game is one that you would expect at a minor league hockey game. The atmosphere is kid friendly. The Devils do a good job of trying to accommodate families and have activities for young kids. The Devils provide many promotions and giveaways throughout the hockey season. There is also a hardcore hockey attitude in some sections. With the Devils going to the playoffs in 2016 after a long absence, the intensity will be heightened.
The city of Albany generally gets a bad rap. Most people honestly do not know that it is the capital of New York. It is a city that doesn't have the flash or the glamour of its sister to the south. However, the city of Albany and the area around the Times Union Center are pretty nice. There are restaurants and bars close to the arena as well as entertainment in and around the city of Albany. Your best bet though is to stay close to the arena as parts of downtown Albany can get a bit sketchy at night.
The Albany Devils have a pretty good fan base. Their attendance numbers are not in the top half of the league, but the fans have a lot of passion. The Albany Devils fans know their hockey. There are many die-hard fans in attendance. However, the fans are also very respectful. There is a certain camaraderie amongst minor league hockey fans and it is very much felt at the Times Union Center. Fans of opposing teams are treated very well. Albany is situated in an area between many other AHL teams. It still brings out passionate and intelligent fans and that is a testament to the organization and its fan base.
It is very easy to get to the Times Union Center. When you get off of the highway it is very close to the arena. There are many places to park in downtown Albany. There is also a large parking deck adjacent to the arena. There are also some bus stations nearby if you choose to take public transportation. The arena is very easy to navigate once you are inside. The restrooms are very large and ensure that there is no line. There is also handicap seating in the arena. The concourse is wide and spacious so it is easy to navigate.
The pricing at the Times Union Center is very fair. Tickets, concessions, and parking will not hurt your wallet too much. They also offer many ticket promotions and discounts. As many AHL teams do, the Albany Devils offer flex ticket packages. These packages allow fans to go to certain games that they want to and exchange their voucher for a ticket.
One star goes to the many banners throughout the Times Union Center. They have banners from the days of the Albany River Rats, as well as banners of teams in the MAAC. The Siena Saints play in the arena so all of the colleges have banners in the Times Union Center.
A second star goes to the fact that there is a Dinosaur BBQ stand inside the arena. It is a very tasty and popular spot to grab a bite.
The Times Union Center is a pretty good place to check out a game. The fans are passionate, and the organization has been putting out a good product. Add in the good food and the solid return on investment and it is worth a trip.
Member Review by vdp18 on Feb 11, 2013
Opened in 1990, the Times Union Center has become the premier arena in New York's capital district. Originally known as the Knickerbocker Arena, then the Pepsi Arena, before the naming rights were sold to the Times Union, a capital-district newspaper, and it became known as the Times Union Center on January 1st, 2007. The TU Center has hosted AHL hockey every season since 1993, when the Capital District Islanders, who played in RPI's Houston Field House, became the Albany River Rats (an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils). The River Rats later became Carolina's AHL affiliate, and after a few seasons they left for Charlotte. The Devils brought their farm team back as the Albany Devils in 2010, and the A-Devils have played there ever since. The TU Center also hosts Siena basketball, and various concerts and other events.
The Times Union Center is really a professional style arena, situated right in the heart of downtown Albany. The arena holds upwards of 14,000 fans, but the entire upper level is normally curtained off, as the A-Devils average around 4,000 fans a game. Since the River Rats' great success in the mid 90's, including a Calder Cup in 1995, Albany has struggled to see a quality product on the ice, only seeing the playoffs 3 times since 2000. Even though the A-Devils have yet to make the playoffs in their tenure at the TU Center, they still make for a good gameday experience for fans.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Oct 16, 2013
Attended a weekday afternoon game which did not help attendance, with perhaps 1,000 fans in the seats. Hard to accurately rate the atmosphere, as the stadium is simply too big for such a small crowd. Food choices were overpriced and not appetizing. The area around the venue seems very nice and the State Capitol is close by and worth checking out before the game. Get the $16 cheap tickets and sit where you want.
Member Review by puckmanri on Jan 29, 2015
I remember back in the day this arena was nicknamed "the Mausoleum" due to the lack of any kind of atmosphere. Things haven't changed much, and it's a shame. The Devils still struggle to attract fans. They would be better served by a smaller arena. Otherwise, the Times Union Center is a fine facility. It's a shame more people don't come out to see it.
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