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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Hertz Arena – Florida Everblades

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Hertz Arena 11000 Everblades Parkway Estero, FL 33928

Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 7,181


The Hertz House of Hockey

Hertz Arena opened in 1998 and is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2023 season. The arena holds 7,181 for hockey and has 24 suites looking out over the seating bowl. In addition to the arena ice, the Hertz Arena has two other rinks that are used by the public. One services the adult and youth hockey programs, while the other rink offers skating lessons, as well as free skating hours.

The Everblades are the ECHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators. They have been one of the most successful ECHL teams over the past 25 years, as they have qualified for postseason play in 20 of their 25 seasons. They have won the Kelly Cup twice, and have four regular-season championships, eight division titles, and five conference titles. Thirty-three Everblades players have gone on to play in the NHL.

Food & Beverage 4

Hertz Arena has four permanent concession stands called the Blades American Grill. The stands offer your typical stadium/arena fare, including hot dogs ($5), hamburgers ($6.25), chicken fingers ($5.75), buffalo chicken sandwiches ($7), chicken parmesan sandwiches ($7), pizza slices ($3) nachos ($6.50), popcorn ($2), pretzels ($3.75), tuna melts ($6.75), fries ($3.75), chips ($5) and candy ($2.50).

Drink selections include coffee ($2), 20-ounce Coca-Cola brand sodas ($6), canned Coca-Cola brand sodas ($3), Powerade ($4.50) 20-ounce bottled water ($4.50), iced tea ($5) Budweiser branded domestic beers ($7), Corona beer ($6.75) and Labatt’s beer ($6.75)

The Hertz Arena also has a sit-down restaurant, the Breakaway Sports Pub, which overlooks the seating bowl and the action on the ice. It has a rather extensive menu, including pretzel bites ($9), toasted ravioli ($10), fried mac and cheese ($9), chips and salsa ($8), soup ($5), Caesar salads ($12), Reuben sandwiches ($13), brats ($12), fish tacos ($13), BBQ pork sliders ($12), a Buffalo chicken wrap ($13), chicken tenders ($12), fried shrimp ($14), 16-inch pizzas ($20) and a burger with fries ($15).

Atmosphere 4

It is hard to miss the Hertz Arena, as it is painted in the Hertz Rental Cars corporate colors of yellow. Be sure to stop and have your picture made with the hockey statue outside of the main entrance. Once inside you will find that the arena is very easy to navigate.

Two levels of the seating bowl are adequate for the typical attendance for the Everblades. The seating bowl design offers a great view of the action no matter where you sit. You will be able to enjoy many of the features added to the arena during a 2019 renovation of the venue. These included the addition of a huge center-hung scoreboard with a very clear digital video screen on all four sides.

There are also a couple of auxiliary LED boards which keep you updated on the stats of the game, as well as a penalty clock that shows up during power plays. You will also be able to hear and understand the excellent sound system installed in 2019. Finally, the seat you are sitting in is much more comfortable than the previous seats, which date back to the arena’s construction.

Neighborhood 3

Estero is a suburb of Ft. Myers, FL. The arena is located just east of I-75 in a commercial section of the community. It is located next door to the Miramar Outlet Mall, which has nearly 100 stores and several restaurants. We enjoyed our pregame meal at Ford’s Garage, a restaurant in the mall that serves great hamburgers and has an extensive set of craft beers. There are also several hotels and motels close to the arena. The Hampton Inn-Fort Myers/Estero is located just west of I-75. It is just a short drive to the arena from there, and you can save the expense of the high parking fees charged at Hertz Arena.

Fans 4

The fans at an Everblades contest are very knowledgeable about the game. It has been around in the Ft Myers area for more than 25 years, so they are not new to the game. Also, Ft Myers is a magnet for northerners trying to escape the cold winters. Many of these fans grew up with a hockey team in their hometown or one close by. Many of these people played the game in their youth. Older fans tend to be the backbone of the franchise’s season ticket base. The team is also working to bring up the next generation of hockey fans through a Kid’s Club and participation in youth hockey leagues.

The rivalry games are ones involving the Orlando Solar Bears. The cities are relatively close together, so fans from each team can travel to the other city quite easily. For the most part, it is a friendly rivalry, with both sets of fans respecting the other team.

The team keeps the fans in the stands well entertained during breaks in the action. Swampee the alligator is the Everblades mascot, and he mingles with the crowds in the stands throughout the game. The eye-catching Everbabes lead cheers during breaks in the action, but they also do a dance performance during the third period of the game.

Championship Banners, Photo by Chris Green, Stadium Journey

Access 4

The Hertz Arena is in Estero, FL, a suburban community located just southeast of Ft Myers, FL. It offers easy access via I-75 or several major feeder streets.

Directions from the north: Take I-75 South to exit 128 (Alico Road). Exit onto Alico and head east to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway and go 3.5 miles. The arena will be on your left.

Directions from the south: Take I-75 North to Exit 123 (Corkscrew Road). Head east on Corkscrew. Take Ben Hill Parkway north and the arena will be on your left.

There are more than 2,000 parking spaces located adjacent to the arena. The doors to Hertz Arena open one hour before the puck drop, leaving you time to check out the team store or get something to eat.

Return on Investment 3

Taking a family of four to a game at the Hertz Arena can prove to be a pricey affair. This starts before you even enter the door. Parking starts at $15 and goes as high as $30, depending on how close you want to park to the arena. Tickets start at $17 and run as high as $58 depending on where you want to sit. The most expensive seats are on rows 1-17 on the sides of the ice.

The next reduction in price comes with the remaining higher-numbered seats on the sides of the ice. The cheapest seats are at the ends of the ice or in the corners. However, we did find the prices for concession items to be quite reasonable. The team does not seem to have many discounted prices on nights like many arenas.

Extras 4

In addition to hockey, Hertz Arena has also hosted NHL preseason games, NBA preseason games, USBL games, and Arena football games.

Alico Arena, which serves as the home court for the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball program, is located just a mile from the Hertz Arena. Area sports fans can often work in an Eagles basketball game and an Everblades hockey game in one day.

The Everblades were the 2022 Kelly Cup Champions.

The Hertz Arena served as a storm shelter during Hurricane Ian in 2022. It did not suffer much damage from the storm, and it later held a benefit concert to raise funds for families with no home or possessions.

In addition to celebrating the team’s 25th anniversary, the Everblades also celebrated their 2022 Kelly Cup championship.

Final Thoughts

The Florida Everblades are one of the most successful teams in the ECHL. Their home at the Hertz Arena has been an adequate, if not spectacular, venue for the last 25 years. It benefits from one of the most loyal fanbases in minor league hockey and several rivalry games featuring opponents from several nearby Florida cities in the Southern Division of the ECHL.

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