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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Norfolk Scope – Norfolk Admirals


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Norfolk Scope 201 E. Brambleton Ave Norfolk, VA 23510


Year Opened: 1971

Capacity: 8,701

 

Scoping Out the Admirals

In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, you will find the largest concrete dome in the world, the Norfolk Scope. Although the Kingdome in Seattle surpassed it when it was built in 1976, it was demolished in 2000, putting the Scope back in the top spot.

Today, the Scope is home to the Norfolk Admirals, a minor league hockey team competing in the ECHL The Admirals originally competed in the American Hockey League (AHL), the hockey equivalent of Triple-A baseball, but after that club moved to San Diego in 2015, a new Admirals franchise joined the ECHL, which is a step down from the AHL.

Food & Beverage 5

Considering it is a minor league hockey arena, and an aging one at that, the Norfolk Scope has some pretty good concession options. A Mexican stand serves quesadillas, tacos, and extremely elaborate nachos, with freshly made salso in mild or spicy form available to put on top. Be warned - the spicy salsa is indeed quite spicy. Other stands serve barbecue sandwiches (pulled pork or brisket), pizza, and classics such as hot dog, burgers, and chicken tenders. Ice cream, churro bites, and funnel cake fries are available to fans with a sweet tooth.

Soda (Pepsi products) and bottled water are available to drink, as is alcohol for fans of age.

Prices are a bit on the high end, but it's good food so it's worth it. For instance, the nachos go for $15, but are pretty large and include not just cheese but your choice of meat, plus lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos, and fresh salsa. The more basic options will cost less.

Atmosphere 3

If you walk into the seating area at the Norfolk Scope before warmups have begun, you will find the arena casked in a soft, blue glow. The full arena lights do not come on until the players come out for warmups. This creates an interesting first impression on fans arriving early. In the seating bowl, you can either walk up or down to your seat from the concourse, depending on where you are sitting. Most seats have a decent view of the ice, even the oness in higher rows. The area up against the boards is reserved for VIP and group seating, so even the front row of the seating area won't be against the glass. This will be a major disappointment for some fans.

A large videoboard hangs over center ice, and two smaller ones are on the ends behind the goals. However, only the center one regularly shows game information, the others typically show ads. Right before each game, a hype video plays on the center board, starting with shots of the Norfolk naval fleet coming into the harbor, then shots of downtowon Norfolk, and finally zooming in on the Scope itself and clips of legendary Admirals moments. This tends to get the crowd fired up and in the mood for the game.

The Admirals have a mascot named Salty, a dog who loves entertaining the fans before and during the game.



Neighborhood 4

The Scope is located less than a mile from Downtown Norfolk, where you will find many options to eat, drink, and stay. From bars to steakhouses to Italian eateries to local favorite Ynot Pizza (which also sells its food at the arena), there is something for everyone here. There are also numerous hotels ranging from the Hilton to more budget options. If coming early or late in the season when the weather is nice, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is about 20 to 30 minutes away, although the exact travel time will depend on traffic.

Fans 4

Although the Scope will rarely sell out, this is more due to its large size than the fans, who show up in good numbers to cheer on their team. Admirals fans are loud, actively involved, and not afraid to heckle the opponents or the officials. After an Admirals goal, the Scope can get extremely loud as fans rise to their feet and celebrate. During the rest of play, it can still get quite loud in here, with fans urging their team to victory, applauding after good plays, and complaining about bad calls by the referees. The heckling can get a bit tiring, but it is all in good fun and just shows the passion of the crowd.



Access 4

The Scope is conveniently located right off I-264 in downtown Norfolk. There are several garages surrounding the arena which cost $5-$10 to park in, including the Scope Garage right under the arena. Season ticket holders can enter the arena at garage level, while everyone else will hve to walk up a flight of steps and use the one of the entrances at street level.

Restrooms are located around the concourse and are of a sufficient size for the crowds. One important thing to keep in mind when navigating around the arena is that signage will often speak of a specific gate to use. Unlike in most sporting venues, "gate" refers not to the entrance you take to get into the arena, but to the set of doors you use to get from the concourse to the seating area. So if someone tells you to meet them outside Gate 5 (or whatever gate), you will need to get into the arena first. This also explains materials saying certain concessions and so on are outside a particular gate.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets start at just $19 for seats above the concourse behind the goals, and even center-ice seats will cost you no more than $39. Most seats are under $30. Unfortunately, they are sold through Ticketmaster, so expect to pay high fees on top of that. Concessions are a bit on the high end, but are good food and large portions, so it's worth it. Parking is reasonable considering the arena's downtown location. Overall, an Admirals game is a pretty good value.

Extras 3

One star for the banners hanging from the rafters honoring Norfolk's accomplishments in the ECHL and AHL.

A second star for the unique design of the Scope, inside and out. As mentioned above, it is the world's largest concrete dome, and the diaganol pillars oujtside create a one-of-a-kind architecture.

Although alternate identiies are becoming increasingly common in minor league sports, Admirals have a unique take on it. The City Series takes place one weekend a month, and the team will adopt a special alternate identity representing one of the Seven Cities of the Hampton Roads region. When Stadium Journey visited in December, the team was playing as the Newport News Admirals, and other weekends are dedicated to the cities of Virginia Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Suffolk, plus the usual identity representing Norfolk. Although the team has not been known as the Hampton Roads Admirals for many years, it is good to see they still represent the entire region.

Final Thoughts

Although the Norfolk Scope is over 50 years old at this point, it is still going strong While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of newer arenas, hockey fans will definitely want to check out a Norfolk Admirals game here.

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