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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Although the Yost Ice Arena originally opened in 1923 and was named after legendary Michigan Football coach and Athletic Director Fielding Yost, the Yost Ice Arena is actually the House that Red built. Red, of course, refers to Michigan hockey icon, and current coach, Red Berenson.
Yost Ice Arena was originally named the Fielding H. Yost Field House and was originally the home of the Michigan basketball teams. With the opening of the Crisler Center, the basketball teams moved on and in 1973, Yost Ice Arena was born and the field house was converted into a hockey arena. Since then, the Michigan Wolverines have become one of the elite hockey programs in the country and since 1984 have been led by Red Berenson. The Wolverines have kept alive their tradition of stability with only six coaches taking the helm of Michigan since ice hockey was granted championship status by the NCAA in 1947.
A number of great hockey names have come through the Michigan program over the years. Included in this group are former and current NHL players Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cogliano, Mike Comrie, Carl Hagelin, Jack Johnson, John Madden, Max Pacioretty and Marty Turco. Michigan also boasts two Hobey Baker award winners including 1997 winner Brendan Morrison and 2008 winner Kevin Porter.
Passed all of the tradition and success that the Wolverines have seen over the years, Yost Ice Arena is one of the premier destinations for all fans of hockey at any level. A truly unique experience, Yost merges modern convenience with old school tradition.
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 menu is pretty limited at Yost. You will find your typical snack bar type items here that you find at other Michigan venues. The concessions at the Crisler Center are more expansive, but that is to be expected considering the smaller capacity at Yost and the age of the much older facility. Nonetheless, you will find decent items at the handful of concession stands throughout the arena. The concession prices are a bit on the high side, but not terrible. Hot dogs are $4.50, popcorn is $5, and soda is $5/$7. As with other Michigan venues popcorn is referred to here as popped maize, a nod to the Michigan colors of maize and blue. Other items that you will find available include brats, nachos and cheese, pretzels, candy, and Cracker Jack as well as Tim Horton's coffee. Soda products are Coca-Cola brands and there are no alcohol sales at Yost.
Michigan offers one of the great atmospheres not just in the NCAA, but in all of hockey. The university has done a great job of melding past tradition with modern convenience. The classic facade for the exterior of the building has remained. Complete with the cement embedded sign, it is hard to imagine that the field house looked too much different from the exterior. When you get inside, you are immediately taken by one of the most unique features of any hockey arena. The large windows bring a ton of natural light right in to the playing area. I was there recently for a 4 pm start time, so that light shone in for the first period, and gave the arena a bright, upbeat feeling to it that you never feel within a hockey arena.
The fieldhouse nature of the original building gives Yost a cozy feel. The tall, barn-like construction offers a north-south configuration. Unfortunately there are aluminum benches throughout the arena, which are not the most comfortable, but realistically benches seem to be part of the majority of college sports experiences. The east and west grandstands are cozy with only a few rows on benches. The upper deck on the east and west sides of the arena are where the suites and club seating can be found. The grandstand on the north and south ends of the arena are where you find the majority of the seating for the average fans. The grandstands all offer a fairly steep slope, which offers excellent sight lines from just about anywhere. With a small capacity of under 6,000, Yost offers a very intimate and cozy experience without being overly crowded.
Above the ice, in the rafters, Michigan has numerous banners hanging for their numerous team accomplishments including a plethora of CCHA regular season and playoff championships. Also, at the south end of the arena you can find banners hanging for the nine (1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, and 1998) NCAA National Championships. There are no retired numbers at Michigan for hockey. Red Berenson has maintained a traditional program and players are only allowed to wear numbers from 1 to 39. Also above the ice is the very large, crystal clear, octagon video board. It is state of the art and one of the best in all of college hockey.
One of the best parts of Yost are the concourses. Michigan has done a fantastic job of showcasing its vast history through large photographs and murals. There are large photo posters commemorating Hobey Baker award winners and great Wolverines in Michigan hockey history. Other murals include Wolverines in the NHL and the Olympics, the Michigan hockey Hall of Fame, the Big Chill at Michigan Stadium against Michigan State and the history of Yost Ice Arena.
Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town and the University of Michigan is most definitely the center of Ann Arbor. The Michigan campus is very large and Yost Ice Arena is at the west end of campus. There are numerous options for pre and postgame meals in downtown Ann Arbor. Probably the closest option to Yost that you may want to consider is the Rub BBQ and Pub. It is just up the street from Yost on S. State Street. Other options that you may want to consider include Ashley's, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Arbor Brewing Company, Blue Tractor, or the Jolly Pumpkin.
There are also many other sporting options depending on the time of year. Football at Michigan Stadium is legendary and basketball at Crisler Center is also on campus and is a fantastic facility.
Just a few miles east you will find the town of Ypsilanti which is the home for Eastern Michigan University. The Eagles play football at Rynearson Stadium and the Convocation Center is the home of Eagles basketball. You are also not too far from all of the options that you can find in Detroit. There are plenty of great options for those who may want a two stadium doubleheader weekend.
Hockey at Michigan consistently draws in the 5,000-6,000 range. The fans that are in attendance at a Michigan are loud and intelligent. There is often more noise during a Michigan game than you will find at an average hockey game. The acoustics at Yost help build the atmosphere by keeping the sound in.
The student section at the southeastern end of the stadium significantly aids in the atmosphere that you will find at Yost. The students are loud and boisterous and bring a wide variety of chants and actions to each game. They are aided by a very strong pep band. Although Yost has a fairly small capacity compared to Big Ten rivals like Wisconsin or Ohio State, the Michigan fans make up for that by becoming part of the experience.
To get to Yost Ice Arena, you are going to have to do some driving through Ann Arbor. The campus is fairly central to the town, significantly north and east of I-94 and west of Highway 23. Depending on what else is happening at the school can drastically alter your ability to get to Yost. There are numerous parking facilities surrounding all of the campus facilities. Remember, this is a town that boasts over 100,000 for football, so there has to be a place for all of them to park.
Inside Yost it can be pretty cramped travelling through the concourses, no doubt part of the challenges of using such an old facility. It can also be a little tricky finding your seat, especially if you are sitting in the north or south ends behind the goals. However, this is not a huge issue as the ushers are pretty friendly and helpful.
Tickets for Michigan hockey can go anywhere between $10 and $30, with Big Ten games usually going for the top price. This is a bit on the high side, but not out of line when compared with Big Ten rivals Minnesota or Michigan State. You can find parking for $10 or even scour the streets for some free of charge. Concessions are also a bit on the high side. All of this must be balanced by one of the best hockey experiences regardless of the league. Upon experiencing a game at Yost, especially against a key Big 10 opponent, you will have difficulty finding other hockey experiences that compare favorably.
An extra mark for Red Berenson winning his 800th game on January 10th, 2015 against Minnesota. Red has been the mark of consistency and excellence for a premier hockey program in the NCAA.
An extra mark for the student section at Michigan and their singing of O Canada before the game, complete with maize and blue maple leaf flag.
An extra mark for being able to see the legendary Zamboni machine up close and personal. The parking for the Zambonis is right in the concourse area.
An extra mark for the use of the former basketball fieldhouse and successfully melding the classic attributes of the building along with the modern conveniences that appeal to the modern sports fan.
An extra mark for the fantastic job that Michigan has done displaying their proud history. Fans can literally spend hours walking around the conconcourses soaking in all of the information and history.
Red Berenson has helped bring Michigan Wolverines hockey to the forefront of the hockey conversation in the NCAA. By keeping the tradition, the Wolverines have created an atmosphere that is second to none in the league. If you are a true hockey fan, then a trip to Yost Ice Arena must be in the cards for you. Make sure you attempt to get there while you can still see one of Red's teams. Although he is an icon, he won't be there forever!
Member Review by paul
Fielding Yost was one of the great early college football coaches. The University of Michigan won 4 consecutive championships beginning in 1901, and played an astounding 56 consecutive games without being defeated. That 1901 season was one of the most dominant performances in the history of sport, as the Wolverines went undefeated and did not give up a single point.
When a new fieldhouse was built in Ann Arbor, it was only right to name it after the iconic coach. What is now known as Yost Ice Arena, the building was opened in 1923, and was once the host to the basketball team before they moved down the road to Crisler Arena. Yost has been home to the hockey team since 1973.
Today, the building is a little quirky, and absolutely perfect for watching college hockey.
Member Review by REVIEWS101 on Dec 30, 2012
If you haven't seen a hockey game here, then it's time you do so. Yost Arena is one of my favorite U of M venue. Ever since the renovations were complete, if you've already been, you wouldn't recognize it. A lot of items are new including seats, concourse, press box, bleachers, concession stands and 4 blue foam pads to cancel echoes. What I love is the atmosphere, food and it's so convenient. The PA Announcer is Scott Spooner and he does a great job of informing/pumping up the fans. So make a toast to Yost and have an awesome time. Go Blue :D
Member Review by GaryButterworth on May 10, 2013
My favorite stadiums are older places with a unique feel and good crowds. This checks off all three boxes.
It's the prototypical college hockey experience. Check it out!
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