• Paul Baker

Honda Center – Anaheim Ducks


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Honda Center 2695 E Katella Ave Anaheim, CA 92806

Anaheim Ducks website

Honda Center website


Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 17,174


 

Don’t Call Them Mighty

Back in the 1990s Disney put out a popular movie franchise about a youth hockey team called “The Mighty Ducks.” At about the same time the National Hockey League was looking to expand into new markets. Looking to tap into an underserved market, the league awarded Disney a franchise to be placed in Anaheim, CA. Disney named their new team “The Mighty Ducks” after their movies. Despite some apprehension over the movie tie-in, the team was successful both on and off the ice, setting a record (at the time) for most wins by a team in their first year, and rocketing to the top of the NHL in terms of merchandise sales.

Now in their third decade of operation, the Ducks (they dropped the “Mighty” from their nickname when Disney sold the team in 2006) have experienced a great deal of success, capturing 14 playoff berths, six division titles, two conference titles and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2007. Seven players who have played for the Ducks have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Food & Beverage 4

There is a good selection of concessions at the Honda Center. With many stands located throughout both concourses, the menu hits all the expected notes. For visiting fans looking for something beyond the typical arena fare, Outlaws Smokehouse sells their signature brisket and pulled pork sandwiches as well as smoked BBQ ribs with corn and slaw. Of course, this is southern California, so fans can find tacos and burritos at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Check out the stands selling snack items such as gourmet cupcakes, homemade cookies and candy apples. A variety of healthier choices and gluten-free options are available as well. A complete map of the Honda Center’s concessions can be found here.

7-Up/RC Cola provides the beverages at the Honda Center. Go for the Ducks souvenir cup, which allows unlimited refills throughout the game. Fans looking for adult beverages will be pleased to find a wide variety of brews, both from national brands as well as local craft brewery Golden Road. Wine and specialty cocktails are sold throughout the arena.

Be aware that you will be paying premium prices for food at the Honda Center. Also, be ready for long, slow-moving lines at many of the concession stands. The air conditioning, cranked up to the maximum in this building, blows directly down on fans in line while waiting for their food. Perhaps the facility is trying to boost sales of their hot items.

Atmosphere 4

Hockey fans are different in California. They don’t seem as involved in the game as your typical northeast or Canadian fan. The Ducks do attract good crowds to the Honda Center and many of them are as die-hard as they come, but the building lacked a certain energy during Stadium Journey’s visit. Perhaps the team’s slide towards the bottom of the conference standings has affected the atmosphere here.

Veteran fans will find much that is familiar in the game day presentation here, from the video board hung at center ice that provides replays, game stats and graphics. There is plenty of noise to fill up the building during play stoppages and the occasional t-shirt toss and social media shout out to keep the casual fans involved. The team’s mascot, Wild Wing, was nowhere to be found during Stadium Journey’s visit.

Neighborhood 4

Fans spoiled by downtown arenas with plenty of things to do a short walk from their favorite rink may not think too highly of the Honda Center’s location right off the highway surrounded by acres of parking lots. There are a few restaurants nearby within a short walk, including J.T. Schmid’s Restaurant and Brewery and the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar. Angel Stadium is located just a half mile up Douglass Road. Still, this is not a neighborhood that would ordinarily rate a high score.

Then why an above average score for neighborhood? Because Disneyland is only about three miles away! Local attractions don’t get much bigger than this. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it will undoubtedly be on the agenda for many visitors to the area, regardless of age. Visiting fans looking for places to stay while in Anaheim will find no shortage of options in the area.

Fans 4

The Ducks enjoyed a good stretch at or near the top of the NHL during the ‘00s. Now that the team is in a rebuilding mode, the Honda Center has seen a decline in attendance. Thus far in the 2019-20 season the Ducks are averaging just short of 16,000 fans per game, ranking them 26th in the league.

Ducks fans tend to be a bit more laid-back than some of their counterparts around the NHL. Visiting fans can feel comfortable sporting their team colors and bringing the entire family.

Access 3

You would think that the Honda Center, with its location right off of Route 57 (the Orange Freeway) and acres of parking lots surrounding the facility, would rate a higher than average score. Unfortunately, the legendary southern California traffic drags this score down to average. Be sure to give yourself extra time to arrive in Anaheim. For fans using alternate means of transportation, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, located across the street from the Honda Center, houses public transportation options from throughout Orange County.

Once you arrive at the Honda Center, staff do a nice job of getting you off the road and into one of the many parking lots within walking distance of the arena. The facility does a security screening as you enter the building, and they do practice a clear bag policy. Be sure to check out the Honda Center’s security policies before your trip.

During Stadium Journey’s visit, the security screening went as far as to not allow this writer to enter the building with a small point and shoot-style camera because it had “video capabilities.” Never mind that my phone probably takes better video than this camera and the camera was allowed under their stated policy, staff could not be persuaded.

Fans enter the Honda Center into a bright, clean concourse with plenty of concession stands and restrooms on both sides. Getting around can be an issue in spots, but traffic generally flows well. Long lines form during intermission, so plan your trips accordingly. There are no escalators to the upper level, leaving fans to huff it up the stairs or wait for the occasional elevator.

All seats are padded folding stadium seats which provide decent leg room and comfort, even for larger fans. Sight lines are excellent from all seats, even up near the top of the upper deck. Be warned that the Honda Center is kept VERY cold during Ducks games. Remember that if you are dressed for the warm southern California weather, you will need an extra layer or two while inside.

Return on Investment 4

Like many other arenas in the National Hockey League, going to a game at the Honda Center can cost you a few dollars. Affordable tickets can be found, however, for Ducks games. Tickets start as low as $20 for upper deck seating, and top off at about $100 in the lower deck. Games against local rivals the Kings and Sharks are generally more expensive, as are weekend tilts. Bargains can be found on the secondary market, but the high cost of parking ($25) and food drive up the overall cost.

Extras 4

An extra point is awarded for the enormous pro shop with plenty of merchandise tie-ins with the Mighty Ducks movie franchise. No matter if you want your shirt with the name Kariya or Selanne, Goldberg or Conway on the back, you’ll find it here.

An extra point is awarded for the banners hanging from the Honda Center rafters. The retired numbers for Ducks greats Paul Kariya (#9), Teemu Selanne (#8) and Scott Neidermayer (#27) hang alongside Division, Conference and the team’s lone Stanley Cup banner, won in 2007.

Free programs are available to all fans at Ducks games.

A final extra point is awarded for the southern California touches throughout the facility. In addition to banners and photos commemorating highlights of Anaheim’s hockey history, fans may notice surfboards, beach scenes and skateboards decorating the walls.

Final Thoughts

While hockey may not be the first thing on your mind as you wander around southern California during a warm winter day, a trip to the Honda Center provides a mighty good experience for any fan, whether you are coming from the frigid north or not.


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