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  • Paul Baker

Danbury Ice Arena – Danbury Hat Tricks


Photos by Paul Baker,, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Danbury Ice Arena 1 Independence Way Danbury, CT 06810

Danbury Hat Tricks website

Danbury Ice Arena website


Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 3,000

 

Hat City Hockey

No story about professional hockey in the city of Danbury, Connecticut can be told without first mentioning James Galante and the Danbury Trashers. In 2004 Galante was awarded an expansion hockey team in the United Hockey League. Needing a place to play, he renovated the local community rink, the Danbury Ice Arena, using three million dollars of his own money. He named the team the Trashers after his waste management company and installed his 17-year-old son A.J. as general manager. The roster resembled something from the movie Slap Shot and the team soon became known for their physical, intimidating style of play and frenzied fan support. Unfortunately, things unraveled when Galante became the focus of an FBI investigation for fraud, extortion, racketeering, tax fraud and conspiracy. The Trashers were found to be guilty of salary cap violations and the team folded when Galante was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. Sports Illustrated, ESPN and the Atlantic have done features on the Galantes and the Trashers. Rumors circulate that there is a movie in the works about the Trashers.

Since the Trashers folded in 2006, a bunch of teams have tried the fill the hockey void in Danbury. The Stars of the New England Hockey League, the Mad Hatters of the Eastern Professional Hockey League and the Whalers and Titans of the Federal Prospects Hockey League all had varying degrees of success in western Connecticut.

On May 7, 2019 the new owners of the Danbury Ice Arena were awarded an expansion franchise in the Federal Prospects Hockey League. The FPHL is a low-level developmental minor hockey league that serves as a feeder league to the ECHL, SPHL and European leagues.

Food & Beverage 4

Community rinks often have sneaky-good concession options, and the Danbury Ice Arena is no exception. With the facility in use almost continuously, the need for all kinds of snack and beverage options is obvious. The “Rabbit Hole” does not disappoint.

Danbury Ice Arena Snack Bar, Photo by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


The menu offers a good variety of arena fare, including hot dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, pizza slices, chicken strips, nachos and Jersey Mike’s subs. Any item can be turned into a combo meal with the addition of fries and a drink. Fans looking for just a snack can choose from pretzels, popcorn, mozzarella sticks and french fries, or they can select from an array of cookies, candy, pop-tarts and numerous other treats.

Tucked away in a corner inside the arena is a cart operated by The Ice Cream Guy featuring a variety of Longford Ice Cream flavors.

Coca-Cola products are featured at the Danbury Ice Arena in both fountain and bottled form. Fans looking for an adult beverage can choose from a wide selection of beers and mixed drinks at both the concession window and the Rabbit Hole bar in the lobby. Budweiser, Bud Light, Amstel Light and Coors are available on draft. Connecticut hockey fans will definitely want to try the New Haven Nighthawk Light beer sold at the Rabbit Hole bar. Fans can purchase pitchers of beer at the bar and bring them into the arena to enjoy while watching the game. It’s not a bit surprising to see that many fans take advantage of this great deal.

Atmosphere 3

The Hat Trick staff put on a pretty entertaining show. While the Danbury Ice Arena is a pretty old-school, bare-bones facility, there’s still enough going on to keep the casual fan entertained.

There is an emcee who wanders the stands throughout the game leading promotions and interacting with the fans. The Hat Tricks are well-connected with the local community, with giveaways to several local businesses and restaurants scattered throughout the night. Intermissions feature games including battle-ball hockey and shots on goal for prizes. It’s interesting how a facility with no video scoreboard incorporates dance and kiss cams.

An interesting promotion that happens every game is the Carrot Toss, where fans can purchase a bag of three stuffed carrots for five dollars. After the first Hat Trick goal, fans throw their carrots on the ice, with the closest to the center ice dot winning a cash prize. We’re not sure what would happen if the Hat Tricks ever got shut out.

The fans in section 102 hang right over the visiting bench and do their best to distract and annoy the guests. While their antics are a far cry from the vulgarity of the Trashers days, it’s definitely more of a PG-13 type of crowd than in other parts of the building. There’s a nice buzz going on inside the Danbury Ice Arena, especially for a building of its size.

Neighborhood 3

Danbury is a small city with a population of just over 85,000 located on the Connecticut/New York state line. For a while in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Danbury was known as the center of the American Hat Industry. In 2015 USA Today named Danbury as the second-best city to live in the United States.

The Danbury Ice Arena is located downtown, near several points of interest for visitors. The Danbury Railway Museum is located nearby, as is the campus of Western Connecticut State University. Fans looking for a good pregame spot to eat should check out Two Steps Downtown Grille located near the arena, or TK’s American Café, which features over 70 flavors of chicken wings.

Fans 3

The Hat Tricks are averaging just over 1,100 fans per game a couple of months into their inaugural season, which lands them in the top half of the FPHL attendance rankings. Crowds appear to be picking up as the team enjoys success, as the game attended by Stadium Journey featured a crowd of over 2,000 fans.

While some fans appear to be trying to maintain some of the rowdy traditions of the Trashers days, parents can feel comfortable bringing the family here. Fans in Danbury are proud of their small city’s hockey history, and jerseys from all the former Danbury teams can be seen throughout the crowd.

Access 3

The city of Danbury is located in southwestern Connecticut on the New York State line. New York City is located about 70 miles to the southwest, and Hartford is located 60 miles to the northeast. The Connecticut coastal cities of New Haven and Bridgeport are about 30 miles to the south.

Interstate 84 passes through Danbury about 2 miles from Danbury Ice Arena. The rink is well-connected to public transportation, with several routes of the Housatonic Area Regional Transit system running near the facility. The Metro North Railway has a stop near the arena, connecting passengers to south coast Connecticut cities and New York City. For fans driving to Danbury, there is ample parking in the Terrence E. McNally Patriot Garage across the street from the facility.

The Danbury Ice Arena consists of two rinks, so the facility is in constant use. Fans coming to see a Hat Trick game will enter into the main concourse, where a table selling tickets and merchandise is located. The facility is a busy one, with youth hockey, birthday parties, public skating and even live music all going on at the same time.

Fans enter the arena at ice level, with the majority of the seating located on the opposite side of the ice. Seating consists of metal bleachers, with some sections covered by molded plastic. There are some seating sections, including a luxury box, on the near side of the facility. These sections are located above the ice and are accessible via staircases in the lobby. Seats in these 200-level sections offer obstructed views of the ice surface. Visiting fans may be interested in the two humorously small seating sections at one end of the rink. Section 108 seats a whopping four fans! There is a good amount of standing room available around the ice surface, which fills up quickly.

There is a scoreboard located at either end of the rink which provides score and time only. Restrooms in the lobby are more than adequate for the needs of the facility.

Return on Investment 5

All seats to Hat Trick games are sold for fourteen dollars. There is generally no need to purchase tickets in advance, unless you are looking to avoid lines at the ticket booths. Parking is available in the garage across the street from the arena for four dollars. Concessions are reasonably priced, especially the pitchers of beer for $17.

Extras 2

An extra point is awarded for the colorful history of the Danbury Ice Arena.

A second extra point is awarded for the Hat Trick branding, which managed to incorporate Danbury history, hockey terminology and local hockey history in one neat package. The logo was designed by Dom Allessandro of A-W Design. Allesandro has designed the logo for every Danbury professional hockey team. The Hat Trick logo contains five diamonds, one for every pro team to have played in Danbury.

Final Thoughts

Danbury, Connecticut is a small city with a most interesting hockey history. The latest team to call Danbury home, the Hat Tricks, hope to find the winning formula that has eluded previous tenants of the Danbury Ice Arena. Despite the plain surroundings of this barn, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had here in Hat City.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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