Photos by Paul Baker Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Tate Rink Lonesome Rd. West Point, NY 10996
Year Opened: 1985
Hockey Knight in West Point
“West Point is all about chills, goosebumps, and sentimentality. When you enter one of the Academy’s four gates, be prepared for a battle of the senses that is sure to be fought on several emotional levels. Army is power and strength, patriotism and pride, sad memories and hope-presented in a pastoral masterpiece.”–The Sporting News
Located in the shadows of renowned Michie Stadium, Tate Rink was built to replace the gigantic ice surface at Smith Rink, which had been home to Army hockey since 1930. Tate Rink is named for Joseph S. Tate ’41 and Frederic H. S. Tate ’42, brothers and pilots who were both killed during combat in World War II. Tate Rink is part of the Holleder Center, which also houses Christl Arena and the Black Knights’ basketball team. The Holleder Center is named in honor of Major Donald W. Holleder ’56, an All-American football and basketball player who was killed in action during the Vietnam War in 1967.
Hockey has been played at West Point since 1903. The Black Knights currently compete in the Atlantic Hockey Association. The team won one conference championship, in 2008. Army hockey has yet to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Food & Beverage 3
The main concession stands at Tate Rink are tucked away behind the stairs that bring fans up into the Holleder Center lobby. The menu is limited to your basic arena fare, including hot dogs and nachos. In addition, hungry Black Knight fans will find cotton candy, popcorn, peanuts, Cracker Jack, and assorted candy here.
Coca-Cola products are featured at the Holleder Center. Many fans will choose the attractive souvenir mug for six dollars. Also located in this area are a Dippin’ Dots cart and a pretzel cart.
Fans looking for something a little more substantial will head over to the secondary lobby, located past the Hall of Captains, where The Grill serves up additional items. Chicken tenders, french fries, sausage, pepper sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and burgers can be found here.
Fans who have been to Michie Stadium for an Army football game will be disappointed at the relative lack of pageantry and ceremony here. Still, there is something special about attending a game at one of the service academies.
At Tate Rink, the game is the main focus. There aren’t a whole lot of extraneous features here at West Point. Unlike many other college hockey venues, there is no pep band or cheerleading squad to distract fans. Disappointingly, there is no student section filled with Cadets. The simple gameday presentation will undoubtedly please hockey purists.
There is only a simple dot matrix scoreboard hanging at center ice, which displays basic game information. A large video board at the far end of the rink shows game highlights, advertisements, and graphics.
If you come to a game against one of the Army’s big rivals or another service academy, expect a much livelier atmosphere at Tate Rink.
The town of West Point is a small, quaint town of under 7,000 residents. Located about an hour’s drive north of New York City, the town of West Point is dominated by the Military Academy. Fans traveling from out of town will find no shortage of places to stay in the towns surrounding the Academy.
Beyond the Military Academy, the Hudson Valley area surrounding West Point is a favorite spot in the fall to take in some incredible foliage. Bear Mountain State Park is a destination for hiking and other outdoor activities, and tours of the West Point campus are popular with sports fans and history buffs alike. During the winter months of the hockey season, the ski lodges of the Adirondack Mountains are only a couple of hours away.
With Tate Rink’s location on a military base, visitors will have to travel a short distance off-base before encountering any locations for lodging or dining.
Army averages between 1,700-1,800 fans per game at Tate Rink, which places them in the bottom quarter of all the Division One teams nationwide. The Black Knights enjoy strong support from residents, who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic in their support of the team. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be much support from the student body here. The support and antics of the Cadet section, which adds so much to the Army football experience, are sorely missed here.
When planning a trip to Tate Rink, keep in mind that this is an active military base, so give yourself a little extra time to arrive, as there is added security at the entrance to West Point.
Located in the shadow of Michie Stadium, the Holleder Center is home to the Army hockey and basketball teams. With its gray concrete shell, it looks very much like a product of the 1980s. What Tate Rink lacks in warmth and creature comforts, it makes up for in tradition.
Parking lots are located a short walk from the entrance to the Holleder Center. Fans must navigate several flights of stairs from the lot to the arena. Be warned, it’s a long walk back uphill to get to your car after the game, and the area is not well-lit. Watching the children in attendance try and scale the steep hillside is almost worth the cost of admission in itself.
Fans will enter the Holleder Center into a small lobby, where the ticket offices are located. A pair of staircases take fans up to the main lobby, located between Tate Rink and the Cristal Center. A pair of hallways off this main lobby leads to the seating area.
Seats at Tate Rink consist of a pair of grandstands that run the length of the rink. The seating area is a bit unusual in that the first row of seats is located eight feet above ice level. This elevated perch, along with the steep pitch of the grandstand, ensure that all seats have a great view of the ice.
The first few rows of seats consist of black plastic folding stadium seats, with the upper-level seating consisting of metal bleachers. There is no seating at the ends of the rink.
Return on Investment 4
The army utilizes flexible pricing for their games at Tate Rink. Depending on the game you attend, expect to pay between $10 and $20 for chairback seats and between $9 and $15 for bleacher seats. Detailed pricing information can be found on the Army hockey website. Parking is free in the lots next to the Holleder Center. Concession prices are in line with other arenas in the area.
It is doubtful that there is a campus anywhere in the United States that can match the history that surrounds when you step foot on the West Point campus. Campus tours operate seven days a week, highlighting many of the campus’ prominent and noteworthy features. It is recommended that if visiting Tate Rink, you carve out some extra time to explore the campus. In the early fall months of the hockey season, the scenery around campus is breathtaking.
The West Point Museum contains comprehensive displays on the history of the United States Military, the Academy, and a most impressive collection of old weaponry. Be sure to make time to take in as much of the history available here as you can.
Once inside the Holleder Center, be sure to check out the Hall of Captains, where plaques commemorating every captain for every varsity sport in the history of West Point line the hallway.
In addition, photos of every hockey team to represent West Point line the hallways at Tate Rink. Banners honoring legendary coach Jack Riley and his successor, his son Brian, hang from the rafters.
While Tate Rink lacks many of the creature comforts that dominate newer hockey rinks, there is an old-school sensibility here that makes taking in a game at West Point an enjoyable experience. Excellent sightlines and an intimate seating area only add to the enjoyment. Tate Rink’s location on one of the most historic campuses in the country only adds to its allure. It’s an arena that should be included on any hockey fan’s wish list.
“Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory” –General Douglas MacArthur
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.