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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Compton Family Ice Arena - Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43

Compton Family Ice Arena 100 Compton Family Ice Arena Notre Dame, IN 46556

Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 5,022


All in the Family

There are many great college hockey facilities in the United States, some much better than others. The Compton Family Ice Area on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana might be in a league all by itself. It is a facility that is hard to describe unless you have been to a game, but once inside it is clear that this is truly a work of art in terms of experience. The facility is much more than a place to watch the Irish play hockey, but is a community facility.

The state-of-the-art arena houses two ice rinks and was designed to support the Notre Dame hockey programs and those in the local community. The facility was made possible by a generous lead gift from Kevin and Gayla Compton at a total cost of $50 million. The 5,022-seat venue is separated into two sections featuring chair-back seating, bleacher seating, and standing-room-only sections. Construction began on March 15, 2010, and on October 21, 2011, Notre Dame hockey opened a new page in its history with a 5-2 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

At any given time, there can be something going on inside the arena since it is open 24 hours a day. In addition to intramural hockey and broomball, women's club hockey, figure skating, and public skating, high school, and youth hockey are also offered. There is a multi-purpose room that is also used for weekly Mass.

Food & Beverage 5

There is almost everything imaginable at the Compton Family Ice Arena. There are four stands on the main concourse that offer different varieties of menu items. O’Brien’s is an exclusive club that has a capacity of 250 people. There are also portable stands that feature local South Bend vendors offering everything from chocolates to fish and chips.

The four main concession booths offer bratwursts, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, and Coca-Cola products. However, each of them has something a little different including pizza slices, cheesesteak sandwiches, fish and chips, chicken sandwiches, and chicken tender baskets. The prices range from $4.50 for a hot dog to $9.50 for an Irish burger. A few reasonable options include the popcorn and soda combo for $5 and the chicken tender basket for $8.

Portable stands are spread out throughout the concourse, and are also varied and feature fare from local proprietors. The South Bend Chocolate Company offers chocolate by the pound, Ben’s Soft Pretzels usually has a long line for the giant, sweet pretzels selling for $6, and Hawaiian Shaved Ice is a delight for children for $5. The kids can choose from a myriad of colors and flavors to top their ice.

Atmosphere 4

College hockey is a very interesting sport and when you have a program that is revered like Notre Dame, it’s going to produce high-energy capacity crowds every night. After all, this is one of the best places in the country to view college hockey, and boy does the fans enjoy it.

The atmosphere begins well before the opening faceoff and ends at the final buzzer of the third period. There is everything here from a rowdy student section, a pep band, and fans of all ages standing or sitting throughout the venue.

Once you walk inside the arena some stairs take you up to the main concourse, which provides everyone the opportunity to check out the souvenir shop. For season ticket holders who have upgraded their tickets, then access to O’Brien’s exclusive club is here as well. If you happen to have a question, someone from the staff will gladly help you with any concerns you have at the game.

The seating area ranges from up close to very up close and personal to the ice rink. The top-tier seats hover over the ice somewhat, creating a floating feeling for the game. You are also shouldering shoulders with fellow Irish supporters who will keep you up with the action in the play.

Neighborhood 4

The Compton Family Ice Arena is located on campus, sharing a parking lot with Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center. If you have the opportunity to tour campus, it is highly recommended.

You are also within walking distance of the Eddy Street Commons which offers shopping, dining, and residential apartments. There are nine restaurants to choose from including Blaze Pizza, Bar Bici, The Mark, and Yats, specializing in inexpensive Cajun and Creole fare.

However, South Bend offers more opportunities to many bonafide places including South Bend Brew Werks, and Barnaby’s. South Bend Brew Werks is open seven days a week, offering small-batch beers, locally sourced food, and a refreshing emphasis on the local community. Fifty cents of every pint sold at the pub is donated to a local charity. The table tops, chairs, and stools have been repurposed from area bowling alleys and high schools.

Fans 5

College hockey fans are very similar to college football fans in South Bend. Then again the Irish faithful is strong, dominant, and spread out throughout the nation. Here the fans are glued to the action, cheer for goals and breakaways, and jeer when the opposing club scores. They are well-educated about the game and when the band is playing at its loudest, it is hard not to sing along and cheer.

Access 5

From parking your car, waiting in line at the concession stand, and arriving at your seat, getting around the Compton Family Ice Arena is very simple and easy to navigate. Cars are directed to their spots by staff members and it is needed since games sell out and the lots fill to the brim with cars. There are eight public restrooms with parity for both men and women, while the main lobby is spacious and open.

Return on Investment 4

Depending on the type of game, tickets can start at $11 and go up to $49. Parking is also free in the parking lots surrounding the facility and cars are guided by staff to avoid any hassle or confusion. The concession stand prices tend to be on the high side, but it’s not too uncommon when you compare it to other minor league or professional facilities.

There are a lot of options ranging from low to high regarding almost everything at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The choice is simply yours based on what you find affordable or expensive. Some facilities do not give this choice, but here they do.

Extras 4

The staff is incredibly friendly and will assist you with any questions or concerns that you have during the game. It can range anywhere from where you sit to more information about the arena itself.

The arena is much more than just a college hockey venue. It serves the South Bend area quite well and the needs of Notre Dame students and beyond. It is a facility that is open around the clock and is of a source of entertainment.

The staff does a great job assisting vehicles to their spot in the parking lot. The area can get very crowded, and the staff makes it quite easy to get in and get out.

The arena itself is a true spectacle because it looks like an older facility on the outside, but once you’re inside you see it is truly a modern and state-of-the-art venue that offers everything a fan needs in terms of food, comfort, and entertainment.

Final Thoughts

The Compton Family Ice Arena is one of the better facilities in college hockey, and well worth a visit for any fan of the Irish, the sport, or for those who are following their favorite team on the road.

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