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  • James Hilchen

Buccaneer Arena - Des Moines Buccaneers

Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Buccaneer Arena 7201 Hickman Rd Urbandale, IA 50322

Year Opened: 1961

Capacity: 3,461

The Madhouse on Hickman

Formerly called Des Moines Ice Arena and Metro Ice Sports Arena, Buccaneer Arena is home to the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Known as “the madhouse on Hickman,” the arena formerly housed the Des Moines Oak Leafs/Des Moines Capitols from 1961-1975. The arena has been home to the Buccaneers since 1980.

Food & Beverage 3

While there is nothing flashy, the food choices are plentiful for a smaller arena. Pork tenderloin sandwiches, pulled pork, chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A, hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken strips are all available for $5-7 (a few dollars more for a basket w/fries). Pizza, mozzarella sticks, nachos, pretzels and other snacks are also available.

Pepsi products, water, and Gatorade are available throughout the arena for $3.25 a bottle. Budweiser, Coors, and Miller products (tallboys or draft) are around $8. Drinks are also available in the enclosed Blackbeard’s Lounge, located on the south side of the arena. Blackbeard’s gives you a great view of the game while being away from the noise of the crowd and the music.

Atmosphere 4

The building is about 50 years old and small. That takes nothing away from the experience, in fact, it adds to it. The scoreboard hangs above the middle of the ice and is easily seen from anywhere in the arena. The seats are primarily all wooden benches, but chair backs are available at ice level. Winger, the mascot, makes his way around the arena interacting with fans and taking pictures when asked. The Ice Girls give away shirts and other items throughout the game.

There are no bad seats, but bring a cushion for the benches if you can. If you want to sit behind the benches, get your tickets on the west side. Penalty boxes are on the east side. The music is loud as is the organ, which sounds with every Buccaneer goal. The only drawback is the sound system, which badly needs an upgrade. During promotions, it is hard to understand what is being said and the music that plays is blaring and sounds very distorted.

Neighborhood 2

Buccaneer Arena is located amongst both residential and retail areas. It is in a safe area but, unfortunately, there is nothing in close proximity to the arena that is notable for visitors. There are a plethora of restaurants about a mile west near Hickman and 86th St. Among your options are: Sam and Louie’s Pizza, Taki Japanese Steakhouse, and Tasty Tacos, a Des Moines area favorite. There is also the usual selection of fast food in the area.

Fans 4

The fans are knowledgeable and very into the game. They know their players and are active throughout. Chants begin with the introduction of the teams and extended celebrations, with flag waving fans, occur with every goal scored by the Buccaneers. Fans of the visiting team were subjected to some good-natured fun but nothing that would be considered in bad taste.

Access 2

The arena is in Urbandale, west of Des Moines. It is not the easiest place to get to but there are two Interstates (35/80 and 235) that you can access it from and the city does a decent job of having signs posted that keep you on the right track.

Parking in the arena parking lot is available for $5. Directly across the side street (73rd St.) is a strip mall with an enormous parking lot and parking there is free. 73rd St. is not a very busy road so it is easy to safely cross and worth saving the $5.

Buccaneer Arena has reasonably sized concourses although you do get fans jammed up where they have tables for special events, fundraisers, etc. You will experience lines in the restrooms between periods, especially on the east side where there are more concessions. A warning to the men over six feet tall who use the restroom there – WATCH YOUR HEAD! The restrooms are under the seats and it is very easy to bang your head into concrete if you are not paying attention.

Handicap accessibility is acceptable. Those in wheelchairs appeared to all be able to watch the game from ice level. It can be difficult maneuvering through the concourses but fans were very conscious of giving people enough room to get by.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets range from $9-$21 depending on where you sit. There aren’t any bad seats or obstructed views in the arena. The concessions and restrooms are easily accessible from the seats and during play, you can get your food/drink and get back to your seats very quickly. Combine reasonable ticket prices with the ability for free parking and reasonable food prices and you get a good bang for your buck.

Extras 3

When bringing children, call ahead and your child may be able to ride on the zamboni between periods. This opportunity is on a first come, first served basis. You can see the banners of all the teams that played in the arena, which are displayed on the north and south sides. If you like beer, there are many 2-for-1 nights throughout the season.

Final Thoughts

Buccaneer Arena has some issues. It isn’t easily accessible and they could use more restrooms made with taller people in mind. It doesn’t matter. The arena is a great place to watch a hockey game. The dated building adds to the charm and the fans also make the experience very enjoyable. If you find yourself in the Des Moines area during the season, make a special trip to “the madhouse on Hickman.” It’s well worth the trip.

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