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  • Rodrigo Perez

Carver Arena – Peoria Rivermen

Photos by Rodrigo Perez Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Carver Arena 201 SW Jefferson St Peoria, IL 61602

Year Opened: 1982 Capacity: 11,442


Peoria Rivermen Hockey

Inside the Peoria Civic Center lies Carver Arena, and for over 40 years, it has been the home to the Peoria Rivermen, originally known as the Peoria Prancers. In downtown Peoria, the Rivermen grew up with Carver Arena, as both started back in 1982.

Home to the 7th longest continually operating minor league franchise in North America, the Rivermen started in the International Hockey League and have since skipped around leagues. Since 2013, the Rivermen have been members of the Southern Professional Hockey League. Since then, the Rivermen have won four league championships, with their latest coming after the 2022 season.

Food & Beverage 3

Overall, the concession stand experience is pretty standard for most indoor arenas. There are various locations along the concourse, like the River City Kitchen, Nelson Bros, and Whiskey City Eats. With so many options, wait times are not an issue, as there are various smaller stands with a limited range of items throughout the concourse. With lots of different options and locations, the service is quick despite the lengthy lines.

Along with the various eatery stands located throughout the concourse, Brewhaus Bros is the one dedicated alcohol stand that serves Domestic and Imported beers. From specially mixed cocktails to domestic and imported beer, Brewhaus serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, along with classic stadium snacks.

Atmosphere 4

From concerts to collegiate Basketball, Carver Arena easily transforms into an ice palace for the Peoria Rivermen. With no shortage of entrances, Carver Arena remains well-lit throughout the game, making it a safe environment for everyone. Various tables surround the concourse area with information on 50/50 raffle tickets, season ticket information, and a wide variety of team merchandise.

You can get as close to the action with only a few feet separating the front row and the glass. With a video board above the ice and multiple promotions, the action stays consistent even when there’s no action on the ice. Before the game, the Rivermen get introduced and run through a giant inflatable ship wheel. With the opening festivities finalized, the home team advantage is felt throughout the night.

Neighborhood 4

Across the Illinois River, Carver Arena sits past the Bob Michel Bridge on W. Washington Street. With multiple parking and dining options around the vicinity of the arena, there are plenty of pre-game spots available.

Kickback on Fulton, Kenny’s Westside Pub, and Ulrich’s Rebellion Room are some bars near the arena. All offer multiple food and beverage options and are just a few blocks away from Carver. In terms of eateries, Hoops Pub and Pizza, Craft309 Kitchen + Bar, Honey Sugar’s Cafe, and Roasting Company - Apollo are alternate ways to take for those just looking to grab a bite before the game.

Fans 5

While the Rivermen faithful can get quiet at times, when there’s trouble, they always respond. Every goal or fiery moment on the ice is met with wild cheers from Rivermen fans as cowbells and horns blare across Carver.

The Rivermen fanbase isn’t afraid to let the opposing team know that they're not welcome, with boos ringing loud and clear after an unfavorable call for the Rivermen. While Carver Arena usually doesn’t fill up, there are still plenty of fans in the stands for that home-field advantage.

A special moment of the night is the call and response between the Rivermen PA announcer and the fans. After every goal, the PA announcer will ask how many goals the Rivermen have, and the crowd will respond, counting up to the number of goals that the Rivermen currently have.

Access 4

There are multiple parking options, with the marquee lot being the most appealing option because of its proximity to the main entrance. When the marquee lot gets full, the Fulton lot has plenty of space in case of an overflow, which tends to happen with Rivermen games and because of the limited capacity of the marquee lot. There are also street options and parking decks around the Civic Center; parking shouldn’t be an issue.

The Toyota gate entrance is the main entrance that gets you straight to the concourse. If you enter through any of the other entrances, be prepared to do some walking. Carver Arena and the Peoria Civic Center have a clear bag policy that only allows small to medium clear bags. Both hard tickets and the more modern method of mobile entry are available.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets range from $14-26 dollars, depending on whether lower or upper bowl seating. Glass and premium tickets range from $21 to 26 dollars, while upper bowl and Pilothouse will usually go for $14-16 dollars.

There is also the option of skipping the ticket fees by calling the ticket office and obtaining tickets two hours before the game. With parking costing $10, a Rivermen game is affordable and fun for any night.

With multiple theme nights, they usually involve specialty jerseys that can be won via a raffle at the end of the game. Some theme nights, such as Sunday Family Fun Day, offer reduced ticket prices for children and discounted concession items.

Extras 3

The Rivermen receive extra praise for their inventive activities and multiple theme nights with specialty jerseys. From the classic chuck-a-puck to the trucker cam, there is never a dull moment where something interesting isn’t happening.

The great-looking landscape that can be seen from any seat earns another point. Multiple banners line up the walls of the arena that showcase the club's past accomplishments and provide nods to past players. The Rivermen landscape adds to the game-day atmosphere.

The promotional nights are also worthy of praise as they make an effort to make the Rivermen experience accessible to all. With multiple dates that offer reduced tickets, concessions, and extra activities for kids, it's hard to not praise the effort.

Final Thoughts

While Carver Arena and the Peoria Civic Center host many thrills, the Rivermen provide a unique experience that's hard to find anywhere in Central Illinois. With passion and support that leaks onto the ice, the Rivermen family makes any game an exhilarating experience. Not every city has a minor-league hockey team, making it one of the most unique experiences in Peoria.

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