Erie Insurance Arena (map it)
809 French St
Erie, PA 16501
Year Opened: 1983
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Erie BayHawks share Erie Insurance Arena (formerly known as Tullio Arena) with the Erie Otters, an Ontario Hockey League team. The arena opened in 1983, and has a capacity of 6,000 for basketball. The Erie BayHawks are part of the NBDL, affiliated with the New York Knicks. The team has also held affiliations with the Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Toronto Raptors in their short history.
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".
There are lots of food options at Erie Insurance Arena. Some of the more unique items include a Greek hot dog ($3.75) and Greek nachos ($4), Otter fries ($3.75) and pepperoni balls ($2). If you want more traditional food, they have that has well with hot dogs ($3), corn dogs ($3), pizza ($3), chicken tenders with fries ($6) and nachos ($4).
For drinks, beer is the preferred beverage. It is even listed first on the menu and far outsold the Coca-Cola products. A medium beer is $3.75 and a large is $4.75. Soda is $3 for a medium and $3.75 for a large. They also offer bottled water and Powerade for $3 each and hot cocoa and French vanilla cappuccino for $1.75 each.
It has a nice public menu for the size of the area and concession areas.
If you are able to have floor seats, there is a different menu that includes items such as shrimp cocktail ($6), spinach artichoke dip ($6.50), a quarter-pound steak burger on a pretzel bun ($8.50), a chicken bacon sandwich ($8.50), a Philly cheesesteak ($8.50) and a cheese and veggie tray that feeds six ($12.50). This menu also features wine ($4), premium bottled beer ($5) and mixed cocktail drinks ($4.25-$6.75).
The atmosphere was your average basketball scene. There was a loud announcer who sounds like he should be doing monster truck rallies. Every bucket by the home team sounds like the greatest basket ever made. You know the type. It just isn't for me. To me, atmosphere is made by the fans, not forced by the public address announcer.
Around the arena, there was an area to the side where kids could play on bounce houses and other inflatable toys, but it was haphazardly presented.
Finally, the team brought in a local choir group to perform the National Anthem. However, they didn't provide them with seats and had them stand in a hallway throughout the first half until it was time to sing, then made them leave unless they individually bought tickets. I thought it was terrible considering there were thousands of unsold seats.
If you don't know much about Erie, it is an old town that was founded as a convergence of three different gauges of railroad tracks. Now that the railroad is standardized and no longer requires the physical labor to unload cars from one train to another, it has become a less important city.
When looking for something to eat, go to Captain Ron's Quarters, a bar with food just a block away from the arena. One of their claims to fame is their ham and cheese sandwich, which I recommend you try. They also have great beer specials, including $1.75 cans of Budweiser products on Sundays.
The fans were surprisingly loud for the number of them there. They had a whole series of standard basketball chants and seemed to be into the game.
They were also respectful of the Knicks and NBA-D league executives who came down and were recognized on court at the start of the game. I can't say that they cheered for them, but they sure didn't boo.
I just wish there was a bigger crowd. It would have made for an even better experience.
Access was a bit of a mixed bag. Parking was easy to find including free street parking less than a block away. The concourses were tight and made moving around hard, especially during breaks in the action when the concession stand lines were long.
Bathrooms were serviceable, but could certainly be updated, like the rest of the arena. It will be interesting to see if the proposed arena upgrades ever happen before it is too late and the BayHawks and the Otters leave town.
The cost of a ticket was less than $10 and the level of basketball was great for that price. The fans made the experience. Also, the food prices were great, making for a good family event, exactly what minor league sports is all about.
The separate menu for the floor seats, and the gift box for those seated there was nice. The mascot also did a good job being skillful when performing. It was one of the better mascots I have seen lately.
The team has a nice base of fans. If they could get the city to cut the red tape and upgrade the arena as promised, then the experience will only get better.
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401 W 18th St
Erie, PA 16502
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