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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Hobey Baker Rink - Princeton Tigers


Photos by Gregory Koch and Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Hobey Baker Memorial Rink

200 Elm Drive

Princeton, NJ 08540



Year Opened: 1923

Capacity: 2,092

 

Making Hobey Proud


Hobey Baker Rink on the campus of Princeton University is the second-oldest college hockey rink in existence today, having opened in 1923. Although it is over 100 years old, it is still a hockey barn worthy of its fame. Hobart Armory Hare "Hobey" Baker is a former Princeton hockey player and is widely regarded as the first ice hockey star. He was the best player of his day and has been inducted into both the US Hockey and College Football Halls of Fame.


The 2,092 seat rink sits in an unassuming stone building on Princeton's campus. It is a hockey barn as they used to be built, without all the bells and whistles you see at newer arenas. They don't build them quite like this anymore, but Hobey Baker Rink is a classic college hockey venue.




Food & Beverage 3


There is a concession stand at the far end of Hobey Baker Rink which serves a basic menu. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and crispy chicken sandwiches are available. As are popcorn, candy, and other assorted snacks. Soda and water cans are available to drink. Prices are pretty reasonable.


When Stadium Journey visited, the registers at the concession stand had major technical issues, causing the line to move extremely slowly. We suggest getting your food before the game, ideally as soon as you walk in the door, but even then, you may be waiting for a while or they may give you your food and tell you to come back later and pay.




Atmosphere 4


Hobey Baker Rink is an old hockey barn, with a stone exterior and a low, wooden roof that traps the sound. The walls are lined with Princeton memorabilia and historic displays. The concourse is narrow, and walking through wooden doors will take you to the lower level seating area with only a few rows of seats. There is also an upper-level balcony behind one goal which has additional seating. A dot matrix scoreboard hangs over center ice. There is no videoboard. In terms of layout, this is a pretty basic arena.


Every Tigers goal is accompanied by music over the PA system followed by a Tiger's growl. The crowd's chants are trapped by the low roof and captured for all to hear. Although not the fanciest arena, its design suits it well. There is a reason Tigers fans have been coming here for over 100 years.







Neighborhood 4


Princeton has that feel of a small college town. but there is certainly plenty going on here. The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, named for the NJ Transit line that connects the Princeton campus with Princeton Junction, is located in a former train station near campus. There are many more options in downtown Princeton, ranging from hoagies to seafood to pizza and more. Parking may be a challenge downtown, but there is much to do there even if you have to walk a bit from your car.


Fans 4


Hobey Baker Rink only seats about 2,000 fans, but it is close to full most nights, especially when the Tigers are playing a fellow Ivy League opponent. The fans are rowdy, chanting and cheering for the Tigers, and the roof and small confines help trap the sound. Many arena builders today feel bigger is better, but Hobey Baker Rink shows that isn't always the case. It is the perfect sized arena for the crowds it draws.


Fans range from older alumni and locals who have been coming here for decades, to younger fans with children who are coming to their first game and eager to join their first chant. In fact, it seems to be the kids here bringing the energy more than most fans. Princeton students also make their voices known in cheering on the school.


Access 3


Hobey Baker Rink is a non-descript stone building, although signage has gotten better in recent years making it easier to find. The Theatre Drive Garage (formerly known as the West Garage, as it still appears in some GPS systems) is right next to the rink, making access even easier. For those arriving by train, the Princeton station on NJ Transit's Princeton Branch is located a short walk from the arena and if driving, you will likely pass it as you get on campus. The Princeton Branch, better known as The Dinky, is the shortest commuter rail line in America and connects Princeton's campus to Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor. It consists of just those two stops, and the trip takes about five minutes.


One you find your way to the arena, signs on the doors direct fans to enter through the proper side for their seats. Unfortunately, once you're in the stadium, getting around can be quite difficult. The old corridors are quite narrow and hard to get around with the large crowds.


Especially problematic is the area behind the far goal, which features the concession stand and the restrooms. At intermission, the slow-moving lines for the concession stand merge with the lines for the restrooms and it can be extremely tight-packed and difficult to move around. The restrooms are not of a sufficient size for the crowds, although if you leave at the beginning of intermission, you should be back in your seat in time for the start of the next period.


Return on Investment 5


Admission to a Princeton hockey game is very affordable, with tickets costing just $15, or $12 for children. Concessions are affordable and parking is free. Hobey Baker Rink provides an excellent value for a trip to a classic hockey venue.


Extras 3


One star for the photos on the concourse honoring Princeton players who have made it to the NHL.


A second star for the historical displays throughout the rink. From photos of every Princeton team ever to play here to multiple trophy cases, this place is just full of history.


A third and final star for the unique design of this rink. With wood doors leading to the seating area, stone walls inside and outside the rink, and a low-hanging wooden ceiling, Hobey Baker Rink feels like taking a step back in time to a simpler past.





Final Thoughts


Hobey Baker Rink is a throwback to the college hockey days of yore. While it lacks the fancy amenities of newer rinks, it is one of the classic venues of college hockey. A hockey barn with over a century of history, Hobey Baker Rink should be on the bucket list of every fan of the sport.


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