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  • Meg Minard

AZ Ice Arcadia – Grand Canyon University Antelopes


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

AZ Ice Arcadia

3853 E Thomas Rd

Phoenix, AZ 85018


GCU Antelopes men's hockey website AZ Ice Aracdia website

Year Opened: 1966 Capacity: 500

 

Lopes on Ice

The Grand Canyon University Antelopes (nicknamed Lopes) Team 1 hockey club plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The team moved from the Div II level to the Div I level this 2019-2020 season. So far, they’ve struggled a bit but it’s still early in the season.


They play their home matches in the AZ Ice Arcadia, an off-campus rink in Phoenix, AZ. The rink features an NHL-sized ice surface, LED lighting, dedicated locker rooms, showers, and offices. It also serves as a community rink/rec center. Junior and kid’s rec leagues play and practice here too.


Food & Beverage 3

A small snack bar area offers coffee, packaged snacks, and vending machines. The main draw for food is the Ice House Tavern (a restaurant and bar that overlooks the ice).


The Ice House Tavern offers craft and bottled beers ($5 – $6) with pitchers available and a happy hour at select times. It sells traditional bar food such as wings, chicken strips, burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, etc. with prices ranging from about $6 – $12. There’s enough to keep a fan satisfied throughout the game.


Atmosphere 3

As with many smaller rinks, it gets cold; quite frigid in fact. Wear layers – a long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket; many fans bring blankets.


All seating is general admission. Seating is four rows of bleachers with no backs on just one side of the rink. A small set of handrails is in the middle of the seating section. Small tables with chairs are at the far end of the seating area. Player benches and penalty boxes are on the opposite side. The standing room is behind one end of the rink. Being a skating rec center, too, the glass surrounding the rink is quite scratched.


A net goes from the top of the glass to the ceiling so no pucks go flying into the stands. Music is played and there is a PA announcer but neither can be understood or heard well at all due to a muffled sound system which fits in perfectly for this club-level team. A center ice, dot matrix scoreboard showing period, time, goals, penalties, and shots on goal hangs from the ceiling.


NHL Stanley Cup banners and all kinds of recreational group championship banners adorn the walls. A small souvenir/hockey shop is on-site just upon entry. It provides custom skate sharpening and repairs as well.

GCU players climb down a flight of stairs and across the end of the concourse to get to/from the ice, something I have not seen before.


Neighborhood 3

The arena is in a commercial neighborhood with lots of shops, strip malls, and small businesses along a busy main road. Plenty of fast food restaurants are within walking distance or a short drive.

Helio Basin Brewing (which also serves delicious food) is in the same shopping center as the ice rink. Wren House Brewery is about three miles from the rink.


Within the AZ Ice Arcadia, itself is the Ice House Tavern which serves drinks and traditional bar food and burgers. Hotels near the airport on 44th Street might be the best bet for lodging. Try the Holiday Inn & Suites Phoenix Airport North or Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Airport just about two miles from the AZ Ice Arcadia.

Only five miles away are the Desert Botanical Gardens and the Phoenix Zoo if looking for other attractions on a nice Arizona fall/winter day.


Other sports during the hockey season include GCU basketball and football, ASU hockey, basketball, and football, Arizona Fall League (baseball), and the Phoenix Suns. An abundance of sports events is available in the fall and winter in the Phoenix area.


Fans 3

Plenty of students show up for a Saturday evening match. Interestingly, many female students are there (in packs) watching the game. A few families and alumni round out the fan base. On the game of this review, several dogs were in attendance. All, except maybe the dogs, show a great deal of school pride. Like with most levels of hockey, fans tend to like the fights more than the goals.


Access 3

Finding the shopping center in which the rink resides is easy enough; however, finding the rink takes some time as it sits behind some of the shops. If facing the shopping center from Thomas Road, it’s to the left of Walmart down a small alley behind the Sprint store. Parking is in front and behind the shopping center at no charge.

A clear bag policy is not implemented.


Return on Investment 3

Admission is $8 for the casual fan. GCU students, faculty, and kids under 18 get in free. Visiting team students get in for ½ price. Credit cards and cash are accepted. Parking is free and food and beverage items are consistent with other club-level rinks.


Extras 2

The students running the ticket table are extremely kind and friendly, always a good start to a game.

The Zamboni is old and rusted and has the Phoenix Roadrunners logo on its side. The Phoenix Roadrunners are a defunct minor league team who played in Phoenix in various leagues until 2009. It’s cool to see it still in operation.


Final Thoughts

The GCU hockey club is a pay-to-play team. The players certainly look like they are having fun and their classmates enjoy rooting them on. If in town for the weekend, grab a blanket and head to the rink for a game for less than going to a movie


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