Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
William D. Mullins Center
200 Commonwealth Ave
Amherst, MA 01003
Year Opened: 1993
This is NewMass
The William D. Mullins Memorial Center was built on the campus of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1993 for $51 million. The arena was named after the local state representative who spearheaded the campaign to build a new facility to help grow the university’s athletic program and assist in the university’s overall growth. It currently serves as home to the Minutemen men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams.
Before the building of the Mullins Center, the hockey team at UMass had been downgraded to club status. The first organized hockey teams representing UMass started in 1909, playing on the outdoor pond in the center of campus. The team played outdoors on and off until 1979 when the team was discontinued due to the lack of a suitable home rink.
When the Mullins Center was built, the hockey team was reborn. The Minutemen compete in the Hockey East conference with several other New England schools. Since their re-emergence, UMass has qualified for four NCAA tournaments, finishing as national runners-up in 2019 and national champions in 2021. 21 UMass alumni have played in the National Hockey League, including Jonathan Quick and Cale Makar.
Food & Beverage 5
The Mullins Center has an impressive array of concessions for a mid-sized arena. Several stands line the inner edge of the concourse, each with a different theme and menu. All the arena standards such as hot dogs, burgers, pizza slices, and chicken tenders can be found here. \
Fans looking for something a little different can enjoy some BBQ with mac & cheese and cornbread or a slice of “pickle pizza.” Some items can be combined as combo meals to save a few dollars. Fans looking to satisfy a sweet tooth can choose from a variety of pastries or ice cream from Maple Valley Creamery at the Corner Café.
Coca-Cola products are featured at the Mullins Center. A selection of beer is available, including Bud Light, Coors Light, Shock Top, and brews from local favorites Sam Adams, Wormtown, and Harpoon Breweries. Copa Wines and Spiked Seltzer are also sold. New to Mullins Center starting in late October is Massachusetts Lager, brewed specifically for UMass Athletics by local favorite Amherst Brewing.
At most college hockey games the student section and pep band are the engines that drive the gameday atmosphere. While the pep band performs throughout the game and the student section does its best to create noise and energy, their efforts are not as strong as they could be. Perhaps this is because even a crowd of 5,000 only fills up the Mullins Center halfway. Still, this can be a fun place to take in a game.
The staff at UMass put on a good show. Contests are held during most play stoppages; t-shirts are tossed into the stands, fans shoot pucks at mascots and there are plenty of giveaways to be had. Sam the Minuteman can be found roaming the arena and interacting with fans. The Mullins Center would provide a significant home-ice advantage if it were filled.
The centerpiece of the experience at the Mullins Center is the giant video board that was hung over center ice in 2018. There are additional video boards on either end of the arena that display game stats. With three large video boards inside this mid-sized arena, it almost feels like taking in a game at a sports bar. There’s a screen
everywhere you look.
Amherst is consistently rated as one of the best college towns in the country. Amherst Center is about a mile and a half from the Mullins Center and is chock full of restaurants, shops, and museums. With five colleges located in and around Amherst, the options are many and varied. From quaint book shops to museums celebrating the works of Emily Dickinson and Eric Carle to art galleries and libraries, the area around UMass has something for everyone.
Visiting fans looking for something to eat before or after a game will find no shortage of options along Main and Pleasant Streets. UMass students swear by Antonio’s, home of some legendary gourmet pizza slices. For a complete listing of things to do, places to eat and lodging options in Amherst visit AmherstDowntown.com
Just up the road from Mullins Center is the town of Hadley, where many more dining and shopping choices are located. Most of the eateries in this area consist of chain restaurants and fast food options. The Hangar Bar and Grill, a popular campus hangout with numerous craft brews on tap, is located near McGuirk Stadium.
There are lodging options near UMass in both Amherst and Hadley. With Springfield only a half hour away, you won’t have to travel too far to find a place to stay after the game. For those wishing to eliminate the commute after the game, the UMass Hotel and Conference Center is located at the center of campus and is run entirely by students in the hospitality and tourism management program.
With the Minutemen enjoying much success recently, including a pair of conference championships and trips to the Frozen Four, UMass has ranked in the top 15 in the NCAA attendance rankings for the past several seasons. The team annually averages around 4,500 fans per game, with attendance breaking the 5,000-per-game mark thus far this season.
The student body turns out in solid numbers for Minutemen hockey games. However, they can be choosy about which games they attend. While the students do come with an assortment of cheers, chants, and songs, they don’t create as boisterous an atmosphere as other student sections. In a full building, that would easily change.
UMass’ location in rural western Massachusetts works against them in terms of consistently drawing large crowds. Still, with the recent success of the Minutemen, fans have been turning up in good numbers to catch UMass hockey. Mullins Center is a place where you can feel comfortable bringing the whole family.
The University of Massachusetts is located in rural western Massachusetts. There are no highways that directly serve the UMass campus, but Interstate 91 is only six miles away if traveling from the north, south, or west. If traveling from the east, the Mass Turnpike (Interstate 90) will bring you about 20 miles from campus.
Take exit 63 (Palmer) off the turnpike and follow the signs along the winding country roads to downtown Amherst and the UMass campus. Although the drive from the Mass Pike to UMass takes about a half hour, the foliage during the early part of the hockey season is amazing and draws many tourists throughout the fall. It’s well worth it to take your time and enjoy the scenery.
Springfield is located 16 miles south of Amherst, served by both Amtrak and the Peter Pan Bus Lines. The larger cities of Boston, Albany, and Hartford are all less than a two-hour drive from campus. The closest airport is Bradley Airport, just over the Connecticut state line. The ski resorts of Vermont’s Green Mountains are only a couple of hours to the north.
Once you arrive at UMass, it’s not too difficult to get to Mullins Center. The arena is located on the western edge of campus near many of the school’s other athletic facilities, including McGuirk Stadium and Earl Lorden Field. There is only one road that serves the arena, but traffic moves pretty well into the adjacent parking lots.
Most fans will enter Mullins Center on the north side of the facility and enter onto a concourse that completely encircles the ice. Concession stands and restrooms line the inner edge of the concourse. Lines do form during intermissions so plan your trips wisely.
The ice is not visible from the concourse, as Mullins Center’s ’90s-era design does not include an open concourse. All seats consist of maroon padded stadium seats in a steeply pitched seating bowl, which feature excellent views of the action from all sections. Just be aware that railings may obstruct your view from some seats.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to UMass hockey games are quite affordable, priced at $16, $20, and $25. Parking is free in the lots located a short walk from the facility. Concession prices are a bit on the high side, particularly for specialty and premium items, but are not out of line with other venues in the area. Fans looking to save a few dollars on food can purchase a combo meal.
For an additional $25 fans can purchase a pass to the Commonwealth Club, a premium hospitality area located at ice level at the north end of the Mullins Center. Included in the Commonwealth club are complimentary snacks and beverages, a cash bar, and rinkside tables with great views of the action.
A pair of extra points are awarded for the sense of history around the Mullins Center. Photos of notable Minutemen hockey and basketball alumni line the concourse. Photos of notable recording artists to perform at Mullins Center, such as Elton John and B.B. King, are also featured.
Inside the arena hang banners honoring Minutemen conference championship teams, tournament appearances, and Frozen Four teams. Additional banners honor the 2021 National Championship team, Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar and Patrick Keenan’s retired number 4.
The Mullins Center is an attractive on-campus facility that serves as a home for the UMass Minutemen basketball and hockey teams. Still going strong in its 30th season, the arena provides western Massachusetts hockey fans with a comfortable place to watch a recent national championship team do their thing.