Wings West (map it)
5076 Sports Dr
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Year Opened: 2002
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings began their inaugural season in the NAHL in 2011. This is actually the second incarnation of the Jr. K-Wings as they also played in the NAHL from 1989-1994, winning the NAHL's championship Robertson Cups in 1991 and 1993.
Today, the team plays its home games at Wings West, a hockey complex that features two rinks, and one great sports bar, Old Burdick's. In fact, it is really the restaurant that makes this a worthwhile trip.
The arena itself is not exactly a venue that will induce goose bumps, but if you enjoy watching junior hockey, which is a pure hockey-centric game, then a trip to Wings West for a game, as well as a burger and beer, will be something worthwhile and out of the ordinary.
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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".
In the arena, there is no food or beverage available as far as concessions. For that though, you only have to go next door to Burdick's.
The thing about NAHL hockey is that these are young kids who are really working just for a chance at a college scholarship. That motivation brings out a very entertaining brand of hockey, and also means that fights are almost never part of the equation. But you will find hard play, and many hockey fans will tell you that this is what hockey SHOULD look like.
The seats are plastic bleachers, and the arena is cold so make sure you bring your coat in with you. There are only about 10 rows, so you'll have a good seat wherever you choose to sit. The player benches and penalty boxes are both opposite the stands, so you can watch the action on the ice, on the bench, and in the box simultaneously.
There aren't any special perks or anything that will blow you away. You are coming for the hockey. Pure and simple.
Wings West is just off of I-94, and it feels like just any other highway exit. There are gas stations and fast food joints in the immediate vicinity, including my favorite, Culver's and their double butter burger with mushroom and swiss. Dang, I just gained a pound writing that.
The real unique experience if you decide to attend a Jr. K-Wings game is Old Burdick's. It's a bar/restaurant that is attached to the arena and has a large viewing window behind one of the goals. Attend on a Sunday early in the season and you can see NFL Sunday ticket in the bar as you watch the hockey and try one of their gourmet burgers. It is sort of like what Heaven must be like.
Fans at an NAHL game are one of the following: Host families or families of the players, scouts, or crazy hockey fans. Because of this you will see a small, but passionate bunch when you attend a game at Wings West. I saw a few young fans with their computer games slumped off to the side, obviously dragged their against their will. With those exceptions, the people in the stands were engaged.
Parking is free, and you are less than a mile from I-94. That makes for a pretty good in and out opportunity. The restrooms are adequate, but with such a small crowd it really isn't a problem at all. There is one hallway behind the stands, and fans enter through glass doors to access their seat. From there, it is a narrow aisle, but with so few people, there really is no problem getting up and about.
Entrance into a Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings game at Wings West will cost you $5. I know this is inexpensive, but for what you're getting, I don't know that they could charge much more. You can simply go to Old Burdick's and not pay for a ticket, and still be in position to see the game. My recommendation is to find a seat along the glass at Old Burdick's, and order a gourmet burger. Have a local beer and watch the hockey. You will be happy.
There's a championship banner hanging in one corner of the arena, and that's always an extra point in my book. Otherwise this can be best described as an unremarkable arena with a good sports bar.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Wings West. I've been a lot of places, and Old Burdick's is one of my favorite burgers that I have had the privilege to try in my journeys. Make a trip to Wings West if you're in the Kalamazoo area, and I think you'll have a great time as well.
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