top of page
  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Olympia Ice Arena - American International College Yellow Jackets

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43

Olympia Ice Center

125 Capital Dr,

West Springfield, MA

Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 2,200

AIC at the OIC

American International College is a small liberal arts college of with an enrollment of just over 2100 located in Springfield, MA. AIC’s sports teams are known as the Yellow Jackets and compete in NCAA Division II, with the exception of the men’s ice hockey team, which competes at the sport’s highest level. The Yellow Jackets are members of the Atlantic Hockey Conference, which features teams throughout the northeast, and play their home games at the Olympia Ice Center, located in West Springfield, MA.

The Olympia Ice Center houses three NHL-sized rinks, and hosts several local high school teams as well as American International, local youth hockey, and senior leagues. Over 100 high school games are played at the rink each year, as well as the Massachusetts State Interscholastic playoffs.

Food and Beverage 3

The Olympia Ice Center boasts a single snack bar in the main lobby. The snack bar boasts a decent menu, featuring items such as pizza slices ($2.95), nachos ($3.00), hot dogs ($2.25), and chicken tenders ($3.95). Since the OIC hosts games at all hours of the day and night, breakfast items such as bagels with cream cheese ($2.00), donuts ($1.15), and breakfast sandwiches ($3.95) are offered. Fans looking for snack items will be pleased to find pretzels ($2.00), French fries ($2.50), curly fries ($2.75), fried dough ($2.95), and assorted sizes of popcorn ($1.50/$2.00/$2.50). A wide variety of Pepsi products ($2.00), coffee ($1.90), tea ($1.65) and hot chocolate ($2.00) are also sold here. It’s an impressive menu, quality is decent, and lines move quickly.

One thing that the Olympia Ice Center offers that sets it apart from other arenas of its size is the Top Shelf Lounge, located upstairs off the main lobby. The top shelf is a full service bar and a great place for weary parents and hockey fans to hide from the action taking place below. The Top Shelf overlooks one of the three rinks at the AIC. Unfortunately, it does not overlook the main rink, which is where the Yellow Jackets play. There is, however, access at the top of the grandstand of the main rink directly into the Top Shelf Lounge.

Atmosphere 1

The Olympia Ice Center and the American International Yellow Jackets offer a no-frills, no-distraction game day experience. There are no in-game promotions or extraneous game day activities going on here. In fact, the only “extras” you will hear at an AIC game is PA announcements of game events (scoring plays and penalties), and music played during play stoppages. The sound system is excellent, and it is a shame that it is not utilized more often.

The main arena at the Olympia Ice Arena is surprisingly spacious, with seating located on both sides of the arena. On the near side are several sections raised about eight feet over the ice surface featuring individual seating. The far side of the rink features concrete bleachers with plastic benches for seating that run for the entirety of the hockey rink. Given that the arena can sit over 2,000 for hockey games, and crowds generally hover in the range of 200-300, the OIC can seem very empty and quiet. As is the case with many other small schools that play their home games off campus, AIC offers busses to get students to their games. Unfortunately, few students seem to take advantage of this offer.

Neighborhood 3

Nearby Riverdale St. is the main drag in West Springfield, and contains numerous chain restaurants. Within walking distance of the OIC are several restaurants, most notably Five Guys Burgers for those traveling with the family, and Hooters for those not traveling with the family. Fans looking to sample more local cuisine will have to search among the chains, but there are options to be found. Downtown Springfield is a short ten minute drive up Interstate 91 across the Connecticut River. Unfortunately, options for dining do not improve dramatically on the river’s eastern bank. A short drive from the Olympia Ice Arena is the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, a must see attraction for any sports fan.

Located directly across the street from the Olympia Ice Arena is the Comfort Inn and Suites. Fans travelling from out of town can’t get any closer to the action than a stay here. However, with the amount of youth tournament hockey being held at the OIC regularly, the guess here is that you will be fighting for elbow room with swarms of traveling youth hockey players at most local hotels.

Fans 1

Crowds at the Olympia Ice Center can best be described as “friends and family”. Announced attendance averages in the 200-300 range, with capacity of the arena set at 2200. The result is that the crowd often appears even smaller than it actually is. Despite the presence of busses to shuttle students to the arena from the downtown Springfield campus, turnout from the student body is minimal at best. Given AIC’s centralized location within the Atlantic Hockey Conference, it is not unusual to see visiting fans turn out in numbers rivaling the home fans.

Access 4

Olympia Ice Center is located six miles from the American International College campus. Getting to the OIC is easy, as it is located just off of Interstate 91. Fans arriving to Springfield from the east or west will take Interstate 90 to I-91, and fans traveling from the north or south will follow I-91 to exit 13. The Olympia Ice Arena is located less than a mile off of the exit.

The city of Springfield dubs itself as “the crossroads of New England”, and they may just be right. Located at the intersections of interstates 91 and 90, Springfield is only a 90 minutes’ drive west of Boston, a half mile north of Hartford, and 90 minutes east of Albany. New York City is a mere 2 and one half hour drive away. Bradley International Airport is located only 18 miles away across the Connecticut state line and is served by all major airlines. The headquarters of Peter Pan Buses is nearby, as well as Springfield’s Amtrak station. West Springfield is located a short five minute drive from downtown Springfield. Despite the ease in arriving in Springfield by alternate methods of transportation, the OIC is not served by any of these methods, and travel by car is pretty much the only way to get here.

The interior of the OIC is modern and bright. Those fans needing accessible seating will find many options along the boards of the main arena and will have no problems getting around the facility. Bathrooms are plentiful, large, and clean. There are no lines, even during intermission.

Return on Investment 4

A night at an American International hockey game is an affordable option to the many professional sporting events in the area. Parking is free in the large lot surrounding the OIC, and tickets are only $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors and students. Factor in inexpensive snacks at the concession stand, and it is possible to enjoy a night of competition at college hockey’s top level for under ten dollars.

Extras 1

An extra point is awarded for the extras to be found throughout the Olympia Ice Center. There is a video arcade located just off the main lobby, which turned out to be a favorite location not only for the youth hockey players present, but of the college students as well. An extra favored by the adults in the crowd is the Top Shelf Lounge overlooking the second rink. If it overlooked the main rink it would be a prime vantage point to be sure.

Final Thoughts

The Olympia Ice Center is an impressive facility that hosts teams from throughout Massachusetts and beyond. With its three NHL sized rinks, it is not unusual to see several games going on simultaneously. This makes for a busy and festive atmosphere at the Center. Unfortunately, the AIC Yellow Jackets have not been able to capitalize fully on the hockey momentum going on here. Fans looking for the creature comforts and in-game entertainment offered elsewhere will not find that kind of atmosphere present here. Fans looking to watch college hockey played at its top level at an inexpensive price will undoubtedly enjoy their time at the Olympia Ice Center.

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

20 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page