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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Cedar Rapids Ice Rink - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Cedar Rapids Ice Rink 1100 Rockford Rd SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 3,850

Welcome to Rider Town USA

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are a tier 1 junior hockey team playing in the United States Hockey League. Their home ice is the Cedar Rapids Ice Rink which is affectionately known as The Stable. The arena has a capacity of 3,850 and shares the same property with the minor league baseball Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Riders arrived in town for the 1999/2000 season after playing its first sixteen seasons as the North Iowa Stars in Mason City, Iowa. The RoughRiders name was selected in a name-the-team contest won by a local teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in town as it was the school’s mascot.

The excitement of the arena is propelled when both the Dubuque Fighting Saints and the Waterloo Blackhawks come into town. The two in-state rivals battle for the Dupaco Cowbell Cup that is awarded to the team with the best overall record between the three hockey clubs. When the arena is packed, the “clinging” and “clanging” of the cowbells by the fans brings the noise level to high decibels inside the low ceiling arena.

Earlier in 2018, the city approved an extension to keep the club in town for the next 24 years–with another 20-year extension automatically kicking in if the Rider ownership makes a minimum of $1 million in capital improvements to the building. Ownership would be responsible for areas that include a locker room, team offices, and audio/video components of the game day presentation. In return, the city will add a concession stand, party decks at each ends of the rink, and the replacement of seating within the next four years.

Food & Beverage 3

The arena is heavily stocked with munchies ranging from value hot dogs for $2 to giant 32-ounce draft beers for $8.50. The highlight and the must try, if you dare, is the Rider Dog–a double chili dog that will fill you up for $9.50. You can wash that down with PBR Tallboys or Busch Light cans for $4 each. Then again, the pork tenderloin sandwich ($7), foot-long hot dog ($8.50), and walking taco ($5.25) are also worth enjoying during the game.

There is quite a bit of beer from local favorite Busch Light to local craft beers. The prices start at $5.75 for a domestic draft to $6 for craft cans. Big Grove Brewery and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter are for sale, along with wine for $7 and sodas for $4. The 32-ounce drafts are probably the best deal. The menu signs are big, bold, and loud–just the way it should be at a place like this.

Atmosphere 3

Junior hockey is a curious little fix to the Rider Nation. They create a healthy dose of the atmosphere with cowbell in hand and plenty of revelries during the action on the ice. The low ceiling home creates a noise level that can be quite menacing when in-state rivals from Dubuque and Waterloo come to town. The ambiance is definitely appealing and the funky look of the colored walls, bold posters, and championship banners should put everyone with a ticket in the proper mood.

The tickets are cheap, the food and beverage much cheaper, and the seats close to players on the ice who are playing for attention to move on to a college scholarship or the next level of hockey. The ice rink is an ideal place to watch the kids play and one will be encouraged to cheer along with the crowd as they attempt to propel the Riders to victory.

The large video board hangs above center ice and features customized-based videos that introduce players on the ice, produce stats, and engage fans during intermission or breaks in the action. The team’s official mascot is named Ricochet and he can be seen providing hugs, high-fives, and photo ops for fans of all ages.

Neighborhood 3

The rink is located a few miles south of downtown Cedar Rapids and shares a parking lot with the home of the Cedar Rapids Kernels minor league baseball team Veterans Memorial Stadium. Conveniently located a few blocks from the rink is a small, simple looking Maid-Rite restaurant that serves an Iowa favorite loose meat sandwich. A loose meat sandwich is a sloppy joe without the sauce and if you have a few pieces of meat fall onto your wrapper, you scoop up the bits with a spoon.

Downtown isn’t too far north by car and at times has the smell of freshly baked cookies from the nearby Quaker Oats mill. There are a few nice choices for food and drink that include The Lost Cuban, Cobble Hill Restaurant, and Black Sheep Social Club. The Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery is an Industrial, brick-walled brewpub offering classic arcade games, craft beer & wood-fired pizzas. The Czech and Slovak Museum, Museum of Art, African-American Museum, and Brucemore are all worth a visit.

Fans 4

On an average night, the arena attracts around 2,000 people per game and they make their presence felt throughout the game. The Riders faithful definitely have a connection with their Hometown team and give their league a group of admiring fans cheering on their favorites on the ice. The crowd is known to cling and clang their cowbells to give the arena a local feel. The crowd is hyped and near capacity when Dubuque and Waterloo play at the ice rink.

Access 3

The arena features a main concourse wrapped around the rink that makes it very easy to get around during the game. All of the concessions and bathrooms are easily accessible and there is plenty of parking outside in the main lot.

Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices are broken up into six different zones and range in price from $12.75 to $25. The crowds are usually around the 2,000 mark and are much larger when in-state rival Waterloo comes into town on the weekend. The price of food is extremely inexpensive and the parking is free in the main lot outside of the rink. On a cold Iowa night, it makes for a nice way to warm up a bit.

Extras 3

The rink gets a point for its loud, bold, and giant menu items that hang throughout the building and main concourse. They are attention-getters and their prices are very reasonable.

The rink gets a second point for the color combination of seating cream, blue, and purple; these are not the team’s colors, but gives it a sense of being full when the crowds are small.

The rink gets a final point for its value meal, fans can purchase a hot dog for $2, a PBR tallboy or Busch Light can for $4. In Iowa, they love Busch Light–sort of the way Minnesotans love the Michelob Golden Draft Light.

Final Thoughts

USHL hockey features copious small areas that are very similar in size and aesthetics, but it’s the fans that create an ambiance that is unique in each building. The hockey is exciting, the prices a deal, and the promotional department of each team gives it a feel that is similar at the minor league level. If you are somewhere in Iowa and its vicinity, take in a game during the winter time.

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