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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

PPL Center – Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

PPL Center 701 Hamilton St Allentown, PA 18101

Year Opened: 2014

Capacity: 8,578


Phantom of the Hockey Arena

Located in Downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania is the PPL Center, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL). Since 2014, the Phantoms have been the top-level minor league hockey affiliate of the nearby Philadelphia Flyers. Previously, the Phantoms played in Glens Falls, New York, and before that, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, which they had moved into after the Flyers moved out.

The PPL Center seats just over 8,500 fans and is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary as the home of the Phantoms.

Food & Beverage 5

The PPL Center has a wide range of concessions that will satisfy every fan. Traditional items such as hot dogs and burgers are available, but you will find many specialty items as well.

Q BBQ sells several barbecue options, including pulled pork, brisket, and nachos topped with barbecue meat. Donnybrook Sausage sells several different kinds of sausage. Burger Prime sells not just classic cheeseburgers but multiple specialty burgers as well, with a wide range of toppings. Fans can also buy pizza, chicken parm sandwiches, and much more.

For those with a sweet tooth, Italian ice and frozen custard are available at the Rita's stand.

Alcohol is available for those of age as well.

Atmosphere 4

The PPL Center is a raucous atmosphere right in the middle of Flyers Country. The orange and black color scheme shared by both the Phantoms and the parent club can be seen throughout the arena. All seats have a good view of the ice, and you will hear every hit against the boards, every smash of the puck, and more.

The Phantoms have a mascot named meLVin (yes, that is the correct capitalization) who is a bright yellow character full of mayhem in the same vein as Gritty and the Philly Phanatic. Whether it's annoying fans of the visiting team, causing chaos in the crowd, or heading out onto the ice before the game, meLVin is sure to cause beautiful chaos in the arena.

Before the game, the Phantoms starting lineup is introduced as flames shot from the ice and players emerge from a cloud of smoke. Multiple pregame hype videos get the crowd roaring and ready to go. After every Phantoms goal, the PA announcer will announce "Phantoms...." and the crowd will shout "Goal" in response before the announcer says the scorer.

Neighborhood 3

The PPL Center is located in Downtown Allentown, and while you may pass through some questionable neighborhoods driving to the arena, the immediate area should be safe. Chickie's and Pete's, a legendary Philadelphia area sports bar and crab house chain, is located right next to the arena. Fagley's Allentown Brew Works is a couple blocks away. The Renaissance Hotel Allentown shares a parking garage with the arena for fans looking for a place to stay overnight.

Fans 4

The Phantoms have consistently ranked in the top 10 of the AHL in attendance. Phantoms fans are proud and loud, and the fact that most of them are also fans of the parent club Flyers certainly helps. The crowd noise can get quite loud here at times, and when the Phantoms score, the arena will erupt with cheers.

Expect to see an arena full of fans wearing orange and black, whether those are Phantoms or Flyers jerseys. The crowd here loves their team and isn't afraid to show it.

Access 3

The PPL Center is located in downtown Allentown, several miles from I-78 and US 22, so fans will have to drive on city streets to get to the arena. There are several parking garages and surface lots located near the arena, which can be reserved in advance and cost between $5 and $10. We recommend using the lot that is directly attached to the arena. You can just take the elevator to the ground floor and walk through a door that will put you in the lobby of the arena. Keep in mind that although the Arena Garage allows drivers to back into their spaces, the other garages, which are owned by the City of Allentown, do not. Keep this in mind if you're one of those drivers who insists on backing into parking spaces.

The concourses of the PPL Center are wide enough to accommodate even sold-out crowds, but sometimes take meandering routes around luxury suites. Fortunately, it is very clearly singed where to go.

Return on Investment 3

Tickets for Phantoms games start at $23 for upper-level seats and standard seats go up to about $55 at center ice. VIP club seats will cost more. Concessions are about average price, and parking is reasonably priced as well. All in all, a Phantoms game is a decent value for your money.

Extras 3

One bonus star for meLVin, one of the most exciting mascots in the AHL.

Look for the display of the concourse featuring photos of every member of the team, including meLVin.

A team store on the concourse offers a wide range of Phantoms merchandise.

Final Thoughts

The PPL Center can be a fun place to take in a minor league hockey game. With a crazy mascot and a local fan base the rocks the team colors every game, the Phantoms experience is well worth checking out for hockey fans in Eastern Pennsylvania. .

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