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Official Review by Scott Montesano, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Sioux City, Iowa has a long history in the United States Hockey League dating back to the 1970s and it continues to this day. The city first had an entry in the then-professional USHL and maintained the Musketeers’ franchise when the league transitioned to a junior-level circuit in 1979. Until 2003 hockey (along with other sports, concerts and tradeshows) took place at the cozy Municipal Auditorium but those events now reside at the Gateway Arena inside the Tyson Events Center which features all the modern amenities one typically doesn’t find in a smaller community like Sioux City.
Conveniently, the new arena is attached to the 1950s era Auditorium as that building remains in use to this day as a family recreational center. Events are no longer held, but the playing floor features basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, Ping-Pong and other activities. For the arena junkies out there, arriving early and spending a few minutes inside this classic venue is a treat not afforded on many arena visits.
The Tyson Events Center officially seats 10,000, but for hockey a section of seats above the north goal is tarped off and capacity is closer to 5,000 in a horseshoe shape. The loading dock area is behind the south goal. It is a top loading facility with all fans walking down to their seats from the concourse but concession stands are located outside of the view of spectators. The positive though is the building features plenty of exterior windows so fans on the west side of the arena get a good view of the Missouri River while fans on the east side see the Sioux City downtown which is only a couple of blocks away.
The Musketeers only average around 2,300-2,500 a season so tickets are usually easy to come by.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Tyson Events Center offers a variety of items at better prices than most multi-purpose facilities. Soda and water all run for under $4, a bargain in today's world. In addition to hot dogs and hamburgers, there are stands offering mini-donuts, "real" chicken/beef nachos and even a stand that has freshly carved roast beef during weekend games. Nothing will run you more than $8 so the prices are in line with any fast-food joint you may consider before the game.
Concession stands are plentiful with seven open the night I visited and the crowd was only 2,500. There are ten total stands available to be opened based on the expected crowd.
The Musketeers have a long history with a deeply rooted fan base in Sioux City but while games at the Municipal Auditorium would be packed (due to its tiny capacity), the fan base hasn't grown in the 10 years since the move. The result is a passionate fan base drowned out by a sea of empty green seats. The high ceiling and low slope of the seating bowl create a quiet atmosphere on most nights, though the fans are into the game and do their best to compensate.
The arena does feature a loud train horn that blasts at each Musketeers' goal and the team takes full advantage of its arena with the lights turning off upon each goal scored by the home team so as to spotlight the goal scorer, and plenty of interaction with the video board.
One of the more interesting traditions is the arena Zamboni driver who has dressed in a tuxedo at each game for a number of years and has become a "human" mascot for the team. In fact, while the team has a costume character mascot it's not uncommon for it to be nearly invisible on a game night.
Sioux City is a nice town and the arena is located just a few blocks from a downtown that has a few restaurants and bars to choose from. A popular hangout before or after games is the Famous Dave's BBQ chain location which is located directly behind the arena. There are also a number of hotels within walking distance including a Stony Creek Inn which shares a parking lot with the arena and a Holiday Inn which is across the street.
Sioux City fans know their hockey with many having grown up attending games their entire lives, but the new arena makes it very difficult for them to make noise. Put the same 2,300 in the old arena and the place would be rocking but since the move to the new building, the fan base didn't grow to fit the large seating capacity.
Sioux City is located directly off I-29 and is served by the Sioux City Airport which has multiple flights daily to Chicago via American Airlines. Omaha, NE is also only an hour away.
Once at the arena, parking is plentiful and free in the lot that surrounds the arena, a perk not found at most new arenas.
While you won't get a typical high octane hockey experience at a Musketeers' game it's still very enjoyable. The building is clean, comfortable and the fans who do attend are into the game. Access is easy, parking is free and the level of hockey played in the USHL is exciting. Plus, with prices that are significantly cheaper than at most newer buildings one doesn't have to go out of their way to grab a bite to eat before heading into the game.
If you are lucky enough to sit near some longtime resident, strike up a conversation with them and they'll happily describe fond memories of the "Aud" next door and you'll be able to imagine how different the experience was.
For the true arena hunter, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't arrive early and patrol around the inside of the Auditorium which is attached to the new arena. The old arena is fully open and though you'll get the feeling you shouldn't be walking in certain spots no one will bother you. Though the building doesn't have any tenants, the arena floor is still used as a family recreational center. Everything has been kept intact since the building stopped functioning as an events center so you'll walk past old phone booths, concession stands, etc. In many ways, it's a living museum to what arena's used to be.
The building was famously small, seating only about 2,800 and had an ice surface that was barely 170 feet long (as opposed to the typical 200 feet). Speak to any local and they'll give you stories without hesitation of legendary fights and high scoring games.
Member Review by Tom Schreier on Sep 27, 2012
Owned and operated by the City of Sioux City (Iowa), Gateway Arena is a multi-purpose arena inside the Tyson Events Center. The name “Gateway Arena” is prominently displayed on the east and west walls of the arena, above club level seating overlooking the rink when configured for hockey.
Breaking ground in April of 2002 and completed in December of 2003, the $52 million arena is also home to the Sioux City Bandits of the American Professional Football League, a Midwest-based indoor football league founded in 2003.
The Bandits have won the last two championships, going undefeated in two years after leaving the Indoor Football League for the APFL in 2010. Two banners are prominently displayed on the northern wall of the arena.
Tyson Events Center has also hosted NAIA tournaments in wrestling, volleyball and basketball as well as various concerts—Eric Church and Journey among 2012 appearances—and shows like Batman Live and Cirque de Soleil.
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300 3rd St
Sioux City, IA 51101
701 Gordon Dr
Sioux City, IA 51101