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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

M&T Bank Arena – Quinnipiac Bobcats Hockey

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

M&T Bank Arena 305 Sherman Ave. Hamden, CT 06518

Year Opened: 2007 Capacity: 3,386


Back at the Top of the Polls

Editors Note: The venue name changed from People's United Center to M&T Bank Arena in April, 2022.

The People’s United Center is a multi-use facility consisting of two full-sized playing surfaces for Quinnipiac’s winter sports teams. The two venues (a basketball court and hockey rink) share a common lobby and concession area. The facility is located on Quinnipiac’s York Hill campus and is the centerpiece of an expansion project on that campus. Completed in 2007 for $52 million, it was designed to be a drawing point for potential student-athletes.

Building the facility involved moving 615,000 tons of earth and rock, all of which remained on campus to construct roads for the development of the 250-acre York Hill campus, located less than a mile from the school’s main Mount Carmel campus.

The hockey rink is formally named the Frank Perrotti Jr. Rink. Perrotti was a New Haven resident, local entrepreneur, and devoted Quinnipiac hockey fan. He is described by the university as “a neighbor, friend, and benefactor of Quinnipiac.”

Hockey began as a varsity sport at Quinnipiac in 1975 as a Division Two squad called the Braves. The Bobcats moved up to Division One in 1998 as a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The team rechristened the Bobcats in 2003, and now plays in the ECAC. The Bobcats have qualified for the NCAA Tournament seven times, reaching the championship game in both 2013 and 2016. Six Quinnipiac alumni have played in the National Hockey League.

Food & Beverage 3

There is a single concession stand in the lobby of People’s United Center. It serves a limited menu, with turkey wraps, hot dogs, chicken fingers, French fries, and nachos the highlights. Assorted snacks, ice cream novelties, and candy are sold here. While the menu isn’t the most extensive you’ll come across, most items are priced at five dollars or less. If you’re looking for a quick snack and want to avoid the lines in the lobby, there are a pair of vending machines on the concourse.

Pepsi products are featured at People’s United Center. Fans looking for an adult beverage can head on over to the basketball court, where the “Bobcat Den” serves up a variety of beer and wine to be enjoyed before games or during intermissions. Spots in the Bobcat Den must be reserved in advance. Free snacks are served along with the cash bar here.

For a fancier dining experience at a Bobcat game, purchase a ticket to the University Club, which features a private dining room, full-service bar, and dedicated seating section high above the ice.

Atmosphere 4

With a packed house every night, you would expect a lively atmosphere at People’s United Center. You wouldn’t be disappointed. While it’s not the loudest arena you’ll ever visit, game-day plenty is going on during a Bobcats game to keep you entertained.

There’s a crisp video scoreboard at center ice that is put to good use with hype videos, game stats, contests, and more. The student section, anchored by the pep band and Ice Cats, comes prepared with a repertoire of chants and routines designed to distract the opposition. Boomer the Bobcat roams the stands interacting with fans throughout the game. There’s a souvenir stand set up in one corner of the arena for fans needing some Bobcat gear.

Neighborhood 3

While Hamden is a lovely community, once named one of America’s “best small cities” by CNN Money, it is hardly a destination location. Surrounding the campus are several strip malls, which give visiting fans some options for pre- and postgame dining. Many visiting fans will opt to head into New Haven, which has a well-deserved reputation as a foodie hotspot.

Right across the street from Quinnipiac’s Mt. Carmel campus is Sleeping Giant State Park, a popular destination for hiking and other outdoor activities. If visiting the area before the weather turns, the many trails here are worth exploring before a game.

Whitney Avenue dissects the two Quinnipiac campuses. There are plenty of eateries here if you wish to stay local. Eli’s on Whitney is a Bobcat's sponsor and a popular choice of locals. If you continue south on Whitney Ave. for a few miles you will find yourself in downtown New Haven on the campus of the Bobcats’ chief hockey rival, Yale University. Visiting fans will find plenty of lodging and dining options in this area, including Louis’ Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger, as well as Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s, the originators of New Haven-style apizza.

Fans 5

Quinnipiac annually fills the People’s United Center to over 95 percent of capacity, averaging around 3,100 fans per game. Hockey is absolutely the number one sport at Quinnipiac, drawing rabid hockey fans from all over greater New Haven. Compare Quinnipiac’s attendance to local rival Yale, who averages about one thousand fans less per game despite being only a few miles away.

The student section, located at the far end of the arena, is packed with fans every night. As the Bobcats have returned to the top of the national rankings, the student body has seemed to have gotten their groove back, as they add a lot of energy and noise to the Perrotti Arena.

Notable in the student section is four students who dress as Teletubbies and take up residence in the front row. It would appear the costumes are passed down over the years, as the Tubbies have been in attendance every time this writer has visited Quinnipiac.

Access 5

Quinnipiac is located in the New Haven suburb of Hamden. This town of just over 60,000 residents is located just to the north of New Haven. Quinnipiac University is located in the northern, Mount Carmel section of town, which has a rural feel to it. The university is split into two campuses about a mile from each other on opposite sides of Whitney Avenue. The newer, York Hill campus contains the People’s United Center, the Rocky Top Student Center, and several dorms. Most of the school’s facilities, including the Quinnipiac Baseball Field, are located on the older Mount Carmel campus.

The university is easily reached via Interstate 91, which runs a few miles east of campus. Visiting fans will take exit 10 off I-91 to the Mt. Carmel Connector (Route 40). Travel a mile north on Whitney Avenue to Sherman Avenue, and the entrance to the York Hill campus will be on your right.

Fans will enter the arena into the shared main lobby, which contains the concession stand and some restrooms. The hockey arena will be located on your right, with the basketball court on your left. There is a single concourse that circles the entire rink at the top of the seating bowl. The rink is visible from all spots on the concourse, and there is plenty of standing room on this level. Fans will walk down to their seats, which are all blue plastic folding stadium seats. The restrooms are located in three corners of the venue.

Lines do form at the concession stand and restrooms during intermission, so plan your trips appropriately. Likewise, with only one road in and out of the venue, don’t be in a rush to leave.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Bobcat hockey games are priced at twenty dollars per game for all seats. Tickets for seniors are discounted to fifteen dollars, and youth tickets to twelve dollars. Certain games are designated as “premium” games, with ticket prices increased by five dollars.

Parking is free in the lots adjacent to the People’s United Center. Concessions are inexpensive, with most items priced under five dollars.

Extras 3

Several banners hang at the far end of the Perrotti Rink honoring championship teams, tournament appearances, 100-point scorers, and Frozen Four appearances for both the men’s and women’s teams. One banner commemorates coach Rand Pecknold’s 500th career victory.

An extra point is awarded for the presence of the Ice Cats, the Quinnipiac cheerleading squad at Bobcat hockey games. In addition to leading cheers from their perch above the student section, the squad takes part in pregame festivities on the ice. This squad does it all.

Outside the entrance to the facility is a statue of a Bobcat, the school’s mascot. When the school decided to change its name from the politically incorrect Braves to the Bobcats, students developed the legend of the Bobcat, which guards the Quinnipiac campus. At the same time, the sleeping giant does his thing over at the state park. The legend can be read on a plaque next to the statue.

Final Thoughts

One of the best sports stories of the last decade was the ascension of tiny Quinnipiac University to the top of the college hockey world. After a couple of down years, the Bobcats are back at the top of the polls and People’s United Center is filled with rabid Connecticut hockey fans. This hidden gem of an arena is a must-see for anyone who enjoys college pucks.

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

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