Acrisure Arena - Coachella Valley Firebirds
Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Acrisure Arena 75702 Varner Rd
Palm Desert, CA 92211
Year Opened: 2022 Capacity: 9,918
Fire & Ice
The Coachella Valley Firebirds are a brand-new member of the AHL (American Hockey League), beginning play in the fall of 2022. They are an affiliate of the NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. Coachella Valley, also known as Greater Palm Springs, is in the gorgeous south central part of California.
The Firebirds organization broke ground on a new arena, Acrisure Arena, on June 2, 2021, with the first hockey game played on Dec 14, 2022. As with any new stadium, some things still need to be worked out. Overall, a good time is had at a hockey game here. There’s no history yet except the development of the team and the arena, but that will come in time.
Acrisure Arena is used for concerts and other forms of entertainment. The Firebirds practice facility, the Berger Foundation Iceplex, is adjacent to the ice rink. The Iceplex also serves the community with public skating, tournaments, and junior leagues.
Food & Beverage 5
Acrisure Arena provides an admirable selection of eats and drinks both outside and inside the venue. Yes, outside. The arena has an outdoor food plaza with an extensive variety of concessions. All food and drink purchased at the outdoor plaza can be brought inside the arena. It has its own security entrance.
The outdoor food plaza is quite impressive. The foods are prepackaged and beverages are in cans or boxes. This is a different service model: customers select their prepackaged foods or canned drinks, self-checkout, and then leave.
Concession choices include:
Big Chicken with three different chicken sandwiches at $16
Pronto Pizza by Giada sells sausage & pepper pizza, Margherita pizza ($14), and Caesar’s pasta salad for $14
Tanner’s Prime Burgers with several varieties of smashburgers ($14 - $18). Their beef tallow fries are $7.50.
Koko’s Bavarian offers hot dogs, sausages, and kielbasas ($9 - $14)
Valley Yucca Bar
El Cristiano Tequila
Buzzbox (a local company) sells cocktails in a box
The only thing missing is countertops or rails to place your food while eating.
The arena has several bars and marketplaces inside as well, including Milagro Tequila Bar, Garrison Bourbon Bar, Buzzbox Bar, Michelob Ultra Bar, Fisherman’s Market and Grill (poutine to fish n’ chips range $9.95 - $17.95), and Grab and Go Market. Some concession carts line the concourse selling snacks like lemonade, pretzels, and kettle corn.
Only the upstairs VIP section serves fresh food and dinners. Fans with second level tickets have access to this area.
Acrisure Arena is a good-sized venue for AHL hockey. It is one of only a few that has its separate practice rink built adjacent to the one used on game day.
It has two levels of seating with sufficient legroom. The second level has the VIP section and suites. If you’re there to watch the game, we don’t recommend sitting in DR (drink rail) seats as they have limited views. The head of the person sitting in the row in front of you blocks the view of the ice. If you’re there more for the social aspect, these are fine. Sections 111-112 and 116-117 at the scoreboard end of the ice face other seating sections, not the ice, and are not recommended.
An impressive video scoreboard hangs on one end of the rink. It is crisp and clear and is easy to see and read. It is not center hung which fits the arena perfectly allowing a much-welcomed open view of the interior. Unfortunately, the scoreboard doesn’t post the penalty player's name and infraction and fans can’t hear those announcements well. Closed captioning is not provided. Ribbon boards show the scoring results and advertisements.
Acrisure Arena Scoreboard, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The concourses are narrower than I expected in a new arena. The team, still new, draws a full house crowd so it can get congested.
The music volume is fine; a little bit on the loud side. The announcer is hard to understand at times. It can get chilly. We recommend wearing layers.
The arena is off I-10 with no restaurants, hotels, or shops within walking distance. It is next to the Classic Club Golf Course. Several places to eat, drink, and stay are within two miles of Acrisure Arena.
LaQuinta Brewery (74717 Technology Dr) is a good place for a bite to eat and a local brew pregame. A Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and a Hampton Inn are just down and across the highway.
The Greater Palm Springs area is a golf haven, is known for its music festivals, and has fantastic weather year-round. Be sure to visit The Living Desert Zoo (an educational and intriguing day out) or Joshua Tree National Park. The park is about an hour’s drive away and well worth it.
The closest other sport is about an hour’s drive to UC Riverside – the Highlanders basketball, baseball, or volleyball teams may be playing when in town. The Honda Center, where the NHL Anaheim Ducks play, is 100 miles from Coachella Valley.
Sports fans in Greater Palm Springs are so thrilled to have a sports team in their neighborhood. A majority are already sporting the Firebirds jerseys, caps, and shirts. The team has only played a few games at home so far yet attendance records have the arena packed.
The arena is right off I-10 between the Cook St and Washington St exits. Three thousand parking spots are available at a hefty price ($20 - $30+). The organization suggests purchasing your parking beforehand via ParkWhiz (to save a few bucks); otherwise, you have to scan a QR code on a light pole and purchase it on site. This, too, is different.
Acrisure Arena QR Code Parking, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The arena provides a helpful separate ride share drop off/pick up area.
The closest airport is Palm Springs International (PSP) a little over 12 miles away. From the airport, it takes about two hours via public transportation to get to the arena, which includes a 2-mile walk from the closest bus stop in Desert Palms to the arena. So, public transportation is doable but not practical.
The main entrance to the arena is on the northeast side. The box office is there and that area has a lovely wide open space with plenty of benches to sit and wait for the gates to open or for late-arriving friends to show up.
Going through security is slow but uneventful. Clear 12” x 6” x 12” stadium bags are allowed. Once inside, the concourse is a tad on the narrow side. Only one elevator is available to get up to the second level (unless you’re VIP). Signage for elevators is non-existent. This is one of the kinks that needs to be addressed.
Return on Investment 2
Ticket prices are too high for an AHL team. They range from $19 to $125 (and then some for the VIP level). The $19 seats are at the end and face another seating section; not the ice. These are not recommended if you want to watch the game, but to just get into the arena. And, tack on Ticketmaster fees to these prices. Center ice tickets are about $85 - just way too high for AHL hockey.
The team does offer 6 or 12 pack flex plan tickets which are a little more affordable if you plan on attending several games a season.
Parking is $26 - $30. Again, much too expensive for an AHL game. Prepay for your parking to save a few dollars.
The team has plenty of promos and giveaways throughout the season, so be on the lookout for those.
A few things are worth noting again. The massive video scoreboard in the end zone is remarkable.
The outdoor plaza and outdoor food court are worth another mention. Having plenty of benches outside the arena is a well thought out design.
The owners and organization did a fantastic job at marketing and sharing information with the residents about the arena and team.
The Firebirds organization promoted the team and arena for several years in Coachella Valley. The team already has 4,000 season ticket holders (full or partial). The results are in and local sports fans are happy to have an arena and a team in their back yard.
As with any new stadium, kinks and quirks need to be worked out but it’s a fun time. Just expect to spend a pretty penny when visiting a Firebirds game.