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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Cincinnati Cyclones have been a mainstay in town since debuting in the ECHL in 1990. The team operated during its first seven seasons at the Cincinnati Gardens before relocating downtown to the U.S. Bank Arena. The team has been there ever since with the exception of a two year hiatus from 2004-2006.
Built in 1975, the 14,453 multi-purpose U.S. Bank Arena is located a few feet away from the center field entrance of Great American Ballpark. However, at the time of its construction, it was located one block away from the former home of both the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals Riverfront Stadium.
The elliptical-shaped venue features a white exterior and was built on concrete stilts in order not to block surrounding streets. It features connecting ramps that lead to staircases and elevators to street level parking.
The facility has had one major renovation in 1997 at a cost $14 million and included new seating, improved concourses and restrooms, and a center-hanging video board. However, the arena’s aesthetics have remained the same since its opening in 1975 and there have been discussions on renovating the arena once again.
One such discussion took place a few years ago that proposed updating the facility by adding a new facade, multiple points of entry, new suite level, and raising the roof to increase capacity to 18,000 seats. However, these plans never materialized and the arena has remained virtually unchanged since those 1997 renovations.
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".
A few recommendations to try if you are not from the area is a Skyline footlong hot dog ($7.50) that is doused with the unique style of chili created in the city and topped with mounds of shredded cheddar cheese. That same chili is also poured over nacho chips ($8.50), or on a traditional coney ($7 for a two-pack or $12 for a four-pack).
You can wash it down with local variety of beer choices that include Hudepohl Lager ($7.75 for a 16 ounce), Christian Moerlein ($8 for a 12 ounce), or MadTree Amber ($10 on draught). All menu boards feature calorie count as well as pricing.
Glier's hot mett ($5.50) is best served in its natural casing, simply charged and topped with mustard and chopped onions. If that is too simple, try a goetta dog ($5.50) that is another unique food item served only in the Queen City. Graeter's Ice Cream ($5 a scoop) is the perfect way to to end your meal of Cincinnati delights.
If you don't feel fancy, enjoy jumbo dogs ($4.75), pizza slices ($4), grilled chicken sandwiches ($5.50), or Twister Nachos that come family sized, served in a hockey helmet ($15). 7Up and RC Cola drinks are exclusive to the arena and a regular sized fountain drink will cost you $4 or $6 for a souvenir cup.
Beer prices are reasonable and feature both domestic and imports ranging from $5.50 for a regular draft to $8 for an import can. If you don't enjoy beer, Copa Di Vino wine by the glass is offered in four varieties for $8 and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine cocktails range between $8.50-$11.50.
The arena has one main exterior concourse that wraps around the seating area that is 14-feet wide. Attendance for Cyclones games do not usually peak at capacity, but there are a few promotional nights and weekend games that do attract much larger crowds. The team has an array of nights that appeal to both younger and older fans.
The seating area is broken into two sections (upper section is usually covered) with a middle concourse that wraps around the rink providing multiple vantage points to watch hockey or take pictures with the team's two official mascots Twister and Puckchop.
There are championship banners and retired numbers at both ends of the arena for the Cyclones; however, unlike a few other ECHL teams, there are no banners honoring or mentioning other Cincinnati minor league championship teams. A team concession stand is setup on the exterior concourse.
The All Access Bar & Grill on the 5th floor (Suite Level) provides a marvelous view of the game, plus a full-service bar and kitchen. This area feels somewhat secretive and there is a hunch that regulars enjoy this fact, but the restaurant can accommodate up to 150 guests and is included with the price of admission.
Patrons may exit the building to smoke behind section 132 where there are some great views of the city skyline (highly underrated), the Ohio River, and the many hills that makeup the landscape of both Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
The US Bank Arena sits a few blocks from the Ballpark Village and across the river from Newport on the Levee, both excellent options before or after the game. It should also be mentioned that there are few other choice places to visit in downtown Cincinnati.
The Ballpark Village is relatively new to the scene being built outside the main entrance of Great American Ballpark. Here you will find a choice of bars and restaurants that include the Christian Moerlein Lager House, Yard House, BurgerFi, and the Jefferson Social. The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center can also be found in this area.
Take the Purple People Bridge-a pedestrian only bridge-that stretches over the Ohio River to Newport on the Levee for more entertainment destinations. Hofbrauhaus Newport, Strong's Brick Oven Pizza, and Brothers Bar & Grill are all within walking distance. The Newport Aquarium and James Taylor Park are other options if looking for family activities or looking for activities during the day.
Back in Cincinnati, 16 Bit Bar & Arcade on Walnut Street features all pints for $4 from 4-7 PM and the video games are always free to play. A few blocks further up north is Reinghest where a rooftop bar is the perfect way to enjoy a few pints on a warm, sunny day.
Cyclones fans have been supportive of minor league hockey ever since the team played at the Gardens; however, many of those die-hard fans have disappeared. The Cyclones average 4,214 people per game, slightly above the ECHL average of 4,210 fans per game.
One nice thing about older facilities is that they were built with simple designs and features. An inner concourse separates top and bottom seating levels creating perfect access to all seats inside the venue.
The main concourse is somewhat narrow, but houses all of the concession items in close proximity of one another. The only drawback is that there are not too many entrances and it could become overcrowded with heavily attended games, but with crowds around 4,000 a game, it should be easy to access at most games
Ticket prices for games range from $17-$34, much aligned with the rest of the league. Parking ranges from $5-$10 for most garages and surface lots near the arena. The best place to park is directly downstairs from the building in the Broadway and Pete Rose Way Parking Lot for $5.
Concession prices are also reasonable, and there are at least 13 dates when 12 ounce cans of Pabst and Miller High Life are only $1. Another great investment is having dinner at the All Access Bar & Grill where a full menu and bar is somewhat less expensive than concourse choices.
One star for The All Access Bar & Grill located on the 5th floor (Suite Level) of the arena. The restaurant overlooks the rink and is open to anyone with a ticket. The menu options include pub fare, and the Hat Trick Burger, topped with goetta, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and a fried onion ring is a must have for dinner.
A second star for the views from outside the venue over the Ohio River and the Kentucky hills. Yes, the place does scream 1970's stadia design, but Great American Ballpark is only a few feet away and the multiple bridges span the river creating for some fantastic photo opportunities.
A third star for easy access throughout the building; this place was built for hockey as the draw and there are many great sightlines of the rink.
The U.S. Bank Arena is a still serviceable ECHL facility, however, what would a spacious, modern, and much larger facility represent for Cincinnati? Perhaps, a bit too large for the average Cyclone game, but the city should eventually get its prized facility sometime within the next decade. As for now, enjoy watching the game in an arena that is perfectly fine for minor league hockey.
Member Review by conradklank
U.S. Bank Arena is a multipurpose indoor arena in which has hosted a star studded list of legendary musical acts, historical basketball games, fights of all kinds, and is the current home of the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. The arena has a total of 14,453 nicely padded seats and a total of zero bad seats.
Member Review by BlueNotesFan on Jan 18, 2015
The ECHL is the Premier 'AA' League for the NHL, and has lots of talent. The Cincinnati Cyclones have proved to be a dominant team, and the fans absolutely love it. I believe the Cyclones have the best fanbase for this league, as the turnout is amazing every single game, and all the fans are in on the action. The US Bank Arena is very nice, and most seats offer great view of the action. The atmosphere really gets me into the game, and I always leave happy.
Member Review by cadence80 on Feb 17, 2015
The Cincinnati Cyclones name dates back to 1990. Three different franchises have existed in the East Coast Hockey League, the now-defunct International Hockey League, and then back to the ECHL in 2001. Since 1997, the Cyclones have called U.S. Bank Arena home. The arena on Cincinnati’s riverfront, next door to Great American Ball Park, is the largest indoor venue in the area with a 17,000-seat capacity for concerts.
Member Review by Setaris on Feb 04, 2016
I was fortunate to visit U.S. Bank Arena to catch my local ECHL team in action as visitors not too long ago and I must say for an older arena it's very well maintained in my opinion. To begin with it is fairly easy to get to if you're a guest like I was from out of town as it's a huge building, not hard to miss and it can be readily accessed from outside the city as you don't have to go all over downtown Cincinnati to get to it. It is also conveniently located right next to the Great American Ballpark (home of the Reds) and just right down the street from Paul Brown Stadium (NFL's Bengals) so if you're an MLB or NFL fan you're pretty much in the epicenter of Cincy sports there. There are plenty of parking lots and garages for the games too, prices range from $5-$10 but everything is close by and particularly the lots are very convenient for access.
On the inside you can tell the building has seen some years but like other older buildings that service ECHL teams that's not a bad thing at all. The main concourse that loops around is wide and provides excellent mobility for crowds, with accommodations everywhere. Whether you need to use the restroom or grab a drink, you can pretty much do so wherever on that level without going farther than a few feet as they utilize every part of the level and there are no "empty" areas you see in some arenas where there's nothing going on. Food/drink prices are average arena pricing; I think some places charged a bit too much for a few things with that said still but overall I feel most prices fall in line with other venue prices. Donatos and Skyline Chili (a Cincy specialty) offer some great choices, especially Skyline's famous coneys.
As far as seating goes, I think the seats are a little too dated as far as looks go but otherwise they are just as comfortable as other arenas. I was sat in the near front, close to the glass but from what I saw the higher seats had cup holders, which would have been nice for all the seats there considering we were all in the same section. As the reviewer here said the upper bowl is closed off unless demand requires them but from what I saw it seems pretty much anywhere you went there you'd get a good view.
I thought the fans were pretty energetic and loud, something you always want at hockey games. Small crowd, big crowd, doesn't matter, these guys WILL make noise and cheer on their Cyclones no matter what and that's respectable. Cyclones/U.S. Bank staff were also very helpful and numerous in staffing so anything you need assistance with can be taken care of quickly. Overall, I think this is a great venue which might be a bit older than others in the league but certainly has enough going on that you won't notice since it offers to much.
Member Review by scottb_1980 on Feb 15, 2016
I am stunned that a place like this can be a main arena for a bigger city such as Cincinnati. On one hand, the sight lines are great. On the other hand, a lot of the ceiling looks like it is peeling away.
I did like the plaque recognizing the Who concert tragedy.
Great location as well.
161 Joe Nuxhall Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202
28 Fountain St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
101 E Freedom Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202
151 W 5th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
150 W Fifth St
Cincinnati, OH 45202