Budweiser Events Center – Colorado Eagles
Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Budweiser Events Center 5290 Arena Cir Loveland, CO 80538
Year Opened: 2003
The Colorado Eagles hockey organization is an amazing success story.
The Eagles began taking the ice in 2003 as part of the now defunct CHL (Central Hockey League). While playing in the CHL, they won multiple regular season, division, conference championships, and two Ray Miron championships (the Stanley Cup of the CHL). In 2011, the Eagles transferred to the ECHL and won multiple division and championships as well as back to back Kelly Cups (the Stanley Cup of the ECHL) in 2017 and 2018 while in that higher-level league.
This 2018-2019 season, the Eagles moved up once again to the AHL (American Hockey League) – the highest level of minor league hockey prior to the NHL. They are an affiliate of the NHL Colorado Avalanche. We’ll have to wait and see if they’ll continue their winning ways in the new, higher league.
The Eagles have always played their home games at the impressive Budweiser Events Center (BEC) in Loveland, CO which seats 5,289 for ice hockey. In the past, the BEC has hosted indoor football, women’s basketball, indoor soccer teams, and currently hosts a ladies’ football team in addition to the Eagles. This arena also provides plenty of concerts and other entertainment choices for Northern Colorado and Wyoming residents.
When asking fans what difference they noticed between ECHL and AHL play – “play is faster in the AHL and the passes connect much more often at this level of play.”
Food & Beverage 5
The BEC has a vast variety of menu choices all along its concourse.
Food choices include Nordy’s BBQ ($10 sandwich platters), Hot Dog Nation ($4.25 – $6), Kostas (gyros, falafels, hummus plate $6 – $10), Burger Prime (chicken, burgers, fries $6.50 – $10), Marcos (pizza $8 – $21 for a whole pie), Casa Del Sol (nachos, tacos, fresh garden salad $6 – $9.50) and more.
Snacks such as popcorn, chips, peanuts, pretzels, candy and the like are offered at many stands ($1.50 – $5). There’s even a Dunkin Donuts Express cart selling coffee and munchkins. Pepsi is the soft drink provider with soda’s running $3.25 – $6.50 for a souvenir cup.
Most beers offered are the Budweiser variety and those of other subsidiaries of Anheuser Busch like 10 Barrel, Elysian, Corona, New Belgium, Goose Island though a few stands offer Coors Light and one stand offers Dales Pale Ale. Beers range in price from $5.50 – $8. A RainDance Tap and Bar sells various liquors, wine, beer, and cider. Local craft beer can be found near sections D and E.
All in all, an impressive assortment of food and beverages at the Budweiser Events Center for an Eagles game and fans will not go hungry.
The Colorado Eagles and the BEC provide a first-rate game day hockey experience for both fans of hockey and those who are not.
One level of standard green fold down seats with 17 rows in most sections surround three sides of the rink. Entry to the seating area is at or about row 13 and fans walk up or down depending on ticket. Suites are above the sideline seating area. Handrails are available in all seating areas. Most seats have cup holders and average legroom is provided between the rows. Get tickets in section S to see the Eagles logo right side up; it’s behind the player benches.
A Bud Light Balcony is on one end of the rink which offers a bar and snacks and standing room to watch the game from ice level. Many fans frequent this area pregame and between periods and it gets crowded.
Bud Light Balcony, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The merchandise area is to the right after entering the concourse and is a tad awkward. This area does not allow fans to easily see the prices, nor touch the articles prior to purchasing as they are all displayed behind the counter. A store type souvenir stand or shop would be preferable. However, for now, there’s just not room on the concourse to set up racks and shelves for the merchandise.
Relatively new ribbon boards along the east and west walls above the suites display advertisements and upcoming events. A center hung, four-sided scoreboard shows the game, the score, SOG, and current penalty info, etc. Two video screens are seen on Bud Light Balcony end of the ice that show advertisements, group names being welcomed, and some game action.
The venue is comfortably warm so feel free to take off those outer layers of coats, jackets, scarves and gloves and enjoy the game. A sweatshirt and/or light jacket is all that’s needed inside.
Music volume is okay, I’ve been to louder, I’ve been to better and it is played at every single second of every single stoppage of play (common in hockey arenas).
The Eagles organization does encourage the use of cow bells which is quite refreshing. And not the kind that gives you a headache. Be sure to bring yours when attending a game.
Entertainment includes the traditional bongo cam, t-shirt toss, parachutes from rafters, dirtiest car in the parking lot, chuck a puck, face painting, etc, …all sponsored by local businesses.
Ample time is provided for fans to get to their seats for pregame lights. A Minute of Madness begins the third period where everyone stands, screams, and rings their cowbells – the loudest section wins a prize.
I was told the biggest night out is the Teddy Bear Toss night.
Like many towns along the I-25 corridor in Colorado, stores, restaurants, shopping and sub divisions are popping up in Loveland and the area surrounding the Budweiser Events Center is no different.
Plenty of restaurants are in the area. Some recommended ones include Nordy’s BBQ, Palomino (Mexican – delicious margaritas), and The Boot Grill (they provide a shuttle to Eagles games).
An Embassy Suites hotel is right across the parking lot. This appears to be where the visiting team stays when in town. Other nearby hotels include Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, and there’re several more at the intersection of I-25 and Crossroads Blvd where the BEC is located. Other more affordable hotels can be found a few exits north or south of the Budweiser Events Center on I-25 and include a Best Western, LaQuinta, Days Inn, and other standard chains.
Downtown Loveland is about eight miles from the event center; downtown Fort Collins is about 15 miles and both cities have a plethora of craft breweries. The three closest to the arena are High Hops (in Windsor – great for IPAs and is adjacent to a plant nursery – they grow their own hops), Mesh Labs Brewery (in Windsor – located in a hot rod shop), and the newest one – Mighty River Brewing.
The Summit which offers watch parties for away games, has bowling, an arcade, and laser tag is right across the street – good for families with children. Nearby shopping is at the Promenade Shops at Centerra, the Outlets at Loveland, and Centerra Marketplace. Adjacent to the Promenade Shops at Centerra is a park called Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra. It features Zimbabwean stone sculptures along a 1.5 mile paved or gravel trail that also includes ponds, wildlife, trees, shrubs, ornamental grass, and benches. I recommend taking a stroll through this unique garden area if weather permits.
For those outdoor enthusiasts, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a little over 30 miles west of the hockey rink.
A sports traveler may be able to do a double header and/or see several events in a weekend by checking out UNC (Greeley) basketball, baseball, or football or CSU (Fort Collins) basketball or football. Laramie, WY (Wyoming Cowboys) is 80 miles northwest and the Eagles parent club (Avalanche) is 50 miles south of the Budweiser Events Center.
The Eagles fans make all the difference in the game day experience. They seem to know each other and many have been season ticket holders since the beginning of the Eagles franchise.
All fans have hockey etiquette and for the most part do not leave or enter the seating area while the puck is in play – you won’t see them traversing the concourse while the game is in action as they stay in their seat to watch the game. And, most stay till the very end.
They use traditional hockey chants regarding the opposing team’s players yet applaud when an injured opposing team player makes it back to his feet. And more importantly, they start their own chants without encouragement from the video board. One can’t help but get caught up in the excitement of a goal and their passion. Most have cowbells.
Colorado Eagles Fans Celebrating a Goal, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The BEC is right off a crazy roundabout at the I-25 Crossroads Blvd intersection. To avoid that roundabout, if coming from the south, take US 34 east to Centerra Pkwy and go north to the venue; if coming from the north, take State Hwy 392 east to N Fairgrounds Rd and go south to the venue. Plenty of free parking is available and attendants do a great job of shuttling vehicles in and out of the lot. Handicapped parking is available right outside the main entrance, though I understand more spots are needed and fans should arrive 45 minutes prior to the doors opening to get a spot there.
I did not notice any public transportation to the Budweiser Events Center.
Restrooms are decent but get crowded between periods as that seems to be the only time fans leave their seats. Concourses get extremely crowded between periods and right after the end of the game.
There is one entrance with a painless security check and a table to place bags for searching. Bags up to 14” by 14“ are permitted.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets range from $16-$50 plus a $2 service fee if purchased at the venue. If ordering online there’s also an additional $6.25 – $8 fee and a $3.50 charge per order so it’s best to get the tickets at the event center itself. Prices for concessions are respectable. Parking is free. It’s a fun time at an Eagles game and it is worth the money spent.
Red sandstones are installed throughout the Budweiser Events Center on columns and concession facades. These sandstones were originally a part of the Old Courthouse in Fort Collins and provide a little local history to the arena.
Multiple division, league, and conference championship and four retired number banners hang from the rafters displaying the winning ways of the Eagles franchise.
92.9 the Bear airs the game day action with above average broadcasters.
An informative pamphlet called the Eagles Insider is handed out upon entering the arena which includes a welcoming from president Chris Stewart, rosters of the Eagles and the visiting team and a few interesting player articles.
Lastly, an extra for the great success and expansion of a hockey team from CHL to ECHL to now, the AHL.
I always forget how fantastically fun it is to go to an Eagles game, regardless of league. One gets so caught up in the passion of the fans and fans who don’t normally chant and cheer will find themselves doing just that at an Eagles game. Bring cowbells!