Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena 300 A Philip Randolph Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32202
Year Opened: 2003
The Icemen Cometh
The VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena serves as the home of the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL. The arena opened in 2003 and has been the Icemen’s home ice since 2017, when the team relocated from Evansville, Indiana. The team is an affiliate of the NY Rangers. The facility holds 13,141 in its hockey configuration, with 28 luxury suites. All seats in the arena are theatre-style seatbacks.
The “Memorial” in the name of the arena refers to first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. There is a memorial wall and statuary located just to the right of the arena saluting firefighters, police members, and paramedics. The choice to salute first responders in the arena name was decided well before the events of 9/11 and the pandemic.
Food & Beverage 4
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena offers a wide variety of concession items at Icemen games. The Seven Bridges Pizza stand offers personal pizzas featuring cheese, pepperoni, or sausage for $9. The stand also offers margarita-style flatbread ($12) and garlic knots ($6). Duval Street Dogs offers several gourmet hot dogs, including footlongs, chili cheese dogs, slaw dogs, mac n cheese dogs, and BBQ pulled pork dogs all for $9. Duval Street also carries popcorn and candy for $4 each. The Arena Grill has Arena Burgers ($9), giant pretzels ($6), grilled chicken sandwiches ($9), chicken tenders ($8), nachos with cheese ($6), and fries ($5).
On the beverage front, the arena serves Coca-Cola brand products. Sodas cost $5 and water is $4. Adult beverages include beers starting at $7, $8, or wine and craft drinks going for $9.
There are multiple locations for each stand, so you should not encounter much of a line when purchasing your food.
Even though the capacity of the arena is over 13,000 for hockey, the Icemen typically use only the lower level in the seating bowl. This means you are never more than 24 rows from the action on the ice. The arena does an excellent job of keeping the energy up throughout the evening, with plenty of contests being held between periods and breaks in the game. The canine mascot for the team, Fang, and superfan Jax Ice Bluman roam the stands and are more than happy to pose with your family members.
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena is in the Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment District. This includes the TIAA Bank Stadium (home of the Jacksonville Jaguars), 121 Financial Park (home of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball team), and the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena). These sports venues have drawn sports bars, restaurants, and microbreweries to the area. You no longer need to leave the area for a pre or postgame meal or drink.
If you continue past the Sports District heading east over the Hart Bridge you will reach Jacksonville Beach and other attractions surrounding the Atlantic Ocean.
You might wonder how knowledgeable the locals are about ice hockey. Jacksonville has always been an attractive place for retirees to escape the harsh winters they experience in the north. These transplants are usually well-versed in hockey from their former working lives.
They typically are glad to educate a local about the intricacies of the game. Icemen fans quickly adopt the team as their hometown favorite, and often help to lead the crowd in cheers. The Jacksonville area also has a large Navy base, with lots of sailors who grew up on hockey present at Icemen games.
The ECHL has made a concerted effort in building fan interest in the game in its Southern Division. This has resulted in building some rivalries amongst teams along the south Atlantic seaboard. There are now teams located in the neighboring ports of Charleston, SC, and Norfolk, VA.
A new expansion team in Savannah, GA will begin to play in time for the 2022-2023 season. It is not unusual to see fans wearing the visiting colors at a game, which results in some good-natured banter with the locals.
VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena rates very well in our accessibility ratings. There are several routes you can take to get to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
The arena has more than enough entry points into the building, with an entire bank of doors along the front of the building. Doors open one hour before the opening faceoff. Elevators are available on each level of the building in addition to the stairs.
Parking is readily accessible, as there are more than 6,500 parking spaces shared between the three sports venues in the Sports District. A covered parking deck is located next door to the arena at the corner of A Philip Randolph Boulevard and East Duval Street. The arena has 44 restrooms (16 men,14 women, and 10 family) available.
Return on Investment 3
A night out at an Icemen’s game will not freeze out your budget. Tickets run from $18 (behind the goals) to $49 (center ice). Intermediate prices are $23 (corner seats) and $39 (seats on the sides). Parking on game nights is $15. Concession prices are very reasonable compared to many sports facilities.
Former NFL players Tim Tebow, Myles Jack, and Reggie Hayward are part owners of the Icemen.
The arena also serves as the home of the Jacksonville Giants of the American Basketball Association and the Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League (arena football).
The Memorial Arena is the major concert venue for the Jacksonville region. Artists including Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Miley Cyrus, Prince, and Taylor Swift have performed there.
The Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame is in the lobby of the arena. It features exhibits about the University of Georgia/University of Florida football game, the Gator Bowl, and recognizes local athletes who have excelled in a wide variety of sports at the high school, college, and professional levels.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a frequent visitor to the arena. It has hosted first and second-round games in 2006, 2010, 2015, and 2019. The ECHL All-Star game was held at the arena in January 2022.
ECHL hockey has created a strong Southern Division, with several franchises located along the Atlantic coastline. The Jacksonville Icemen call the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena their home ice. Located in Jacksonville’s Sports District, the arena is in use throughout the year as the home of the Icemen, the Jacksonville Giants ABA basketball team, and the Jacksonville Sharks arena football team. The venue also serves as the primary concert venue for the Jacksonville region of northern Florida.