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  • Richard Smith

Centre Ice Rink – Delaware Thunder

Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Centre Ice Rink 644 Fairgrounds Road Harrington, DE 19952

Year Opened: 2002

Capacity: 700


Hockey In The First State

The Centre Ice Arena, also called The Centre or The Centre Ice Rink, is a 700-seat facility built in 2002. It is located on the grounds of the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington, Delaware. The facility hosts ice hockey, figure skating and public skating in the winter, and then hosts the 4-H and FFA exhibits and demonstrations during the Delaware State Fair in the summer.

The Delaware State Fair is the annual state fair for the state of Delaware. It is held in the town of Harrington, which is located 16 miles south of Dover. The fair is a ten-day event at the end of July.

The Harrington Raceway & Casino is also located at the fairgrounds. It is a harness racing track that opened in 1946 with a casino that opened in 1996.

The Delaware Thunder were announced as a member of the Federal Prospects Hockey League in 2019. This is the first professional team to be located in Harrington and one of the few in this small state.

The Federal Prospects Hockey League has also previously been known as the Federal Professional Hockey League and the Federal Hockey League. It is an unaffiliated low minor professional league.

The league has ten teams located in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. There is one planned expansion team for 2021.

Food & Beverage 3

There is a small concession stand in the lobby area of the Centre. It is nothing much, but the prices are fair and the offerings are decent. Expect hot dogs, hamburgers, pretzels and nachos with Pepsi offerings as the beverage choice.

They do offer beer for Thunder games.

Atmosphere 4

The Centre Ice Rink is a basic community ice rink with a decent amount of seating on one side and none on the other side. There is also quite an opportunity to stand around the corners right at the glass, as well as seating in the lobby. If you choose the lobby for your seating choice you will be watching through glass and listening through the speakers only.

The ice does not have an overhead scoreboard and the center of the roof is offset from the placement of the ice.

Centre Ice Rink, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Neighborhood 3

Harrington is in a rural area south of Dover. The main attraction in the area is the State Fairgrounds and the attached casino and racetrack.

There are food offerings at the casino, but there are some other food offerings in the local area, mainly of the fast food variety. If you want more options you can go a few miles north and Dover will have pretty much any food option you can think of.

Legendary local chain Grotto Pizza has a couple sports bar locations in Dover. They have never been a favorite of mine, but many fans will flock there. Other great choices include Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, La Tolteca Restaurant and the 33 West Ale House & Grill.

Fans 5

The fans are where this venue really shines. The fans in this rural area has quickly adopted to this team and have shown up in droves. It is a small venue but they have often filled it up past capacity.

The fan supporter group is trying to make it a fun experience similar to soccer fan groups. Expect some chanting and the occasional use of drums and percussion.

Access 4

The Centre is located right off Highway 13, a major north/south road through Delaware. There is plenty of parking in the area due to the massive state fair complex. There is a lot right by the Centre that fills quickly but you could easily park at the casino and walk over to the ice venue.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets run from $14 for general admission up to $20 premium seating. There will also be the opportunity for VIP sections and group seating at various prices.

The prices are pretty good and the great attendance has seemed to show that.

Extras 3

The pro shop not only sells Thunder merchandise but is also a skating and hockey shop for the use of the other venue users.

The casino and state fair complex is an interesting extra. Even if you are not a gambler, a casino can be a great location for decent food options. It is also pretty interesting to visit a state fair complex when a fair is not going on. The variety of buildings and facilities are pretty amazing. I ended up seeing some motorcycle racers practicing at a nearby agriculture building on the grounds.

The exuberant fans are another cool extra. It is nice to see an area adopt a sports team at the level seen here in central Delaware.

Final Thoughts

The Delaware Thunder and the Centre Ice Rink will not be mistaken as a high level professional venue. That does not mean it is not a fun place to watch a hockey game with a great group of fans. A true sports fan will enjoy the experience here.

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