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  • Paul Baker

Ingalls Rink - Yale Bulldogs

Photos by Pau Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Ingalls Rink

73 Sachem St

New Haven, CT 06511

Yale Bulldogs men's hockey website

Ingalls Rink website

Year Opened: 1958

Capacity: 3,500


The Yale Whale

Yale University boasts the oldest collegiate hockey team in the United States. The program traces its roots back to 1893. Yale played the first intercollegiate hockey game in 1896, against Johns Hopkins, which ended in a 2-2 tie. Competing today in the Ivy League and ECAC, the Bulldogs have qualified for eight NCCA tournaments, a pair of Frozen Fours, and won a national title in 2013.

Named after Yale alumni and hockey captains David S. Ingalls, Yale class of 1920, and David S. Ingalls Jr., Yale class of 1956, Ingalls Rink was designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen, Yale class of 1934. In addition to captaining their respective Yale hockey teams, the Ingalls were the largest benefactors of the rink.

The arena features a distinctive humpbacked roof supported by a 300-foot backbone meant to suggest the speed and grace of an ice skater. This roof gives Ingalls Rink its nickname, the “Yale Whale.” The building was included on America's Favorite Architecture list, created in 2007 by the American Institute of Architects. In 2011 The Wall Street Journal named Ingalls Rink the rink with the “best design” in the nation.

Food & Beverage 1

While there’s a lot to like about Ingalls Rink, the concession experience isn’t one of those things.

There are a pair of concession stands, one located at the far end of the rink, and one downstairs at the near end. These stands offer an identical, limited menu. Hot dogs, nachos, and assorted snacks are sold at Ingalls Rink, along with Coca-Cola products. Hot chocolate and coffee are popular items at this chilly venue.

Many fans choose to avoid the lines at the concession stands and head over to the vending machines tucked away underneath the stands on either side of the rink. The fact that these machines themselves have long lines during intermission speaks volumes about the quality and expense of the food here.

Atmosphere 5

When taking in a game at Ingalls Rink, visiting fans may find themselves distracted by the uniqueness of the building at the expense of the action on the ice. It would be difficult to find a college hockey rink more defined by its design than the Yale Whale. The roof is captivating, as the backbone runs down the middle of the arena with multiple wooden “ribs” supporting it. The shape of the seating bowl matches the design of the roof, arching up high in the middle and low on the ends.

As you would expect, the game day presentation here is decidedly old school. There is no video board hanging from the center ice, just an old-timey dot-matrix scoreboard, which doesn’t seem out of place. Between the pep band, packed student section, and locals that fill not only the stands but the standing room that runs all along the top of the seating bowl, there’s an energy here that is contagious. Ivy League matchups are virtually guaranteed to be played in front of a full house, and if you are lucky enough to catch a game when Harvard is in town, be prepared for a special experience.

Scattered throughout Ingalls Rink are mementos and displays honoring Yale’s long and storied hockey history. A pair of display cases just inside the facility’s entrance contains memorabilia from notable teams and events. Banners hang from the roof honoring conference champions, tournament teams, and National Champions. Be sure to head downstairs during your visit to Ingalls Rink and check out the timeline of Yale hockey and the displays of the squad’s history.

Neighborhood 5

The Yale campus is intertwined with downtown New Haven, with Ingalls Rink located at the northern edge of the campus. The campus is renowned for its diverse architecture and is a tourist attraction in its own right. New Haven enjoys a reputation as an outstanding culinary destination, with many famous eateries scattered throughout the city. Yale University has partnered with the city leaders to revitalize large sections of the city, and the area around Yale boasts several blocks of parks, shops, and open spaces safe for walking.

Approximately one mile from Ingalls Rink is Louis Lunch, which bills itself as the birthplace of the “hamburger sandwich,” dating back to 1895. New Haven is also home to its unique style of pizza, called “Apizza” by locals, which is claimed by some foodies as being the best in the country. To test this claim for yourself, check out one of the several noteworthy restaurants around town, such as Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern Apizza.

Any city hosting a university with a storied reputation as Yale is bound to have its share of cultural and intellectual attractions, and New Haven doesn’t disappoint. Hockey fans in search of cerebral pursuits can choose among several world-class museums and art galleries, such as the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, to name a few. All are located within walking distance of Ingalls Rink.

Fans 5

Yale averages over 3,100 fans per game, or about 90% of Ingalls Rink’s capacity. Tickets are much easier to come by early in the season before the conference schedule starts to kick in. If planning to visit New Haven for a late-season Ivy League matchup, in particular the annual season finale against Harvard, be sure to get tickets in advance.

Ingalls Rink can be a very loud building, although whether this is due to the crowd in attendance or the acoustics of the rink is up for debate. Yale hockey has more than its share of dedicated season ticket holders and regulars who are connected to the players on the ice and involved with the action.

Access 3

The city of New Haven is located on the southern coast of Connecticut at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 91. Situated about a 90-minute drive from New York, 45 minutes from Hartford, and 90 minutes from Providence, the city is easily accessible from any direction. Exit 3 off of I-91 will deposit drivers about a mile from Ingalls Rink onto Trumbull Street. A quick right turn onto Prospect Street will put you at the arena.

There is a four-level parking garage adjacent to Ingalls Rink, as well as ample on-street parking in the neighborhood. Yale operates a parking lot, Lot 16, about a third of a mile away from the rink which offers free parking. A map detailing all nearby parking options can be found here.

New Haven is the last stop on the Metro-North Railroad, so anyone from the New York City area can get to Yale without driving. Ingalls Rink is just over a mile from the State Street station. Payne-Whitney Gymnasium, home of the Yale basketball team, is about a half mile from Ingalls Rink.

Once inside Ingalls Rink, you’ll notice that there’s not a whole lot of extra room. Since the rink lacks a lobby, lines to enter the building often stretch outside, a definite minus on cold winter nights. There is a walkway that circles the top of the seating bowl which rises and falls in step with the arena’s fabled roof.

This is also where a standing room is located, and since the standing room offers some of the best views in the building, the walkway can become crowded quickly. Factor in display cases at the near end of the building and concession stands and restrooms at the far end, and you’ll need to take your time getting around.

All of the seats at Ingalls Rink consist of metal bleachers with backs. With this being an older building, there isn’t a whole lot of room in between rows. If you are sitting in the middle of a row, you are going to have to climb over a lot of people to reach the aisles. With the irregular shape of the seating bowl, there is a huge variation in the quality of views from the seats. Many people choose to stand along the top of the seating bowl rather than busting their buns on the hard bleachers.

To avoid some of the lines and crowds at Ingalls Rink, seek out the downstairs level, located at the near end of the facility. Located here are restrooms, a souvenir stand, a concession stand, and the Yale hockey history display. It’s worth a look.

Return on Investment 4

There are several price levels for Yale hockey tickets, depending on where you would like to sit and the opponent for the evening. Expect to pay a premium for Ivy League and in particular, Harvard games.

Ticket prices start at seven dollars for end zone seats and max out at 25 dollars. The majority of seats at Ingalls Rink can be purchased for between 12 and 15 dollars. Standing room seats range in price from five to twelve dollars.

Parking at the garage next to Ingalls Rink costs five dollars, with free options in the vicinity. Concession prices feel a bit high as well (four dollars for a hot dog) but are not out of line with other venues in the area.

Extras 3

Ingalls Rink’s design is worth an extra point. It is still one of the most iconic buildings in college hockey, even after 60 years of use. It’s not often a hockey rink recognized by the American Institute of Architects, but Ingalls Rink has been.

Two extra points are awarded for the sense of history here at Ingalls Rink. From the display cases packed with memorabilia that greet you when you enter the arena to the banners hanging from the roof, the oldest collegiate hockey team in the nation is given the respect it deserves. Don’t forget to check out the displays downstairs that highlight significant players, coaches, and milestones in Yale hockey history.

Final Thoughts

College hockey is filled with unique rinks, and the Yale Whale deserves inclusion on any “best of” list. Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece can sometimes overshadow the action taking place on the ice, and will certainly make an impression on any first-time visitor. Even if you aren’t a hockey fan, Ingalls Rink is a worthy Stadium Journey.


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

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