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  • Steve Ohnsman

Yost Ice Arena - Michigan Wolverines

Photos by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57

Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena 1116 S. State St Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Year Opened: 1973

Capacity: 5,800


New Head Coach; Same Great Arena

After a storied 33 years as the head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines hockey team, Red Berenson turned the program over to Mel Pearson in 2017. Berenson will be installed in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame later this year, recognizing his 848 victories, .654 winning percentage, and a record 22 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. In his honor, the venerable facility is now named Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena.

The arena is one of the oldest in college hockey, debuting on November 10, 1923, only Princeton (built 10 months prior) and Northeastern (1910) have older rinks. At the time of its opening, Yost was the largest indoor building of its kind on any U.S. college campus.

Surprisingly, the Yost Ice Arena was known as the Yost Field House and was first used as a basketball arena for both the men’s and women’s programs before the Crisler Center was built in 1967. In 1973, the building was converted into an ice arena and the Wolverines hockey team has been there ever since. This is the definitive “old school” hockey arena and should be on the bucket list for all hockey fans

Food & Beverage 4

Stadium Journey has raised the rating for F&B as they have upped their game to include new items and healthy options: Country Inn pizza ($10), hamburgers, fries, veggie wraps ($5), yogurt parfait ($5), chicken tenders baskets ($10), and black bean burgers ($7). There are also small stands offering ice cream novelties and roasted nuts.

An extensive number of choices from Bearclaw coffee are offered such as lattes, cafe mocha, and cappuccino along with donuts and biscotti. They continue to offer popped maize (popcorn) as well as traditional arena snacks. There are several stands behind the seating area and the lines are quite reasonable. Coke products run from $5 to $7.

Atmosphere 5

The exterior features arched windows and brick walls and provide a timelessly classic appearance. Because it is 95 years old, the U of M has done a remarkable job keeping it up to date for players and fans.

Inside, most of the seating consists of aluminum benches on all four sides of the rink. Modern theater-style seating is provided on the upper level, parallel to the rink. After several renovations in recent years, the arena has added a new ice surface and glass around the rink.

Overhead, there are many banners reflecting the successful history of Michigan hockey as well as an octagonal state-of-the-art video board. Modern touches such as noise baffles make the environment more enjoyable. The sound system is lively and the announcer’s voice is very clear. During the video review of a Wolverine's goal, the fans are treated to The Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

While walking around the concourse, fans can truly experience and enjoy the history of the school’s hockey program. Display cases explain the changes that have occurred over the years, while pictures of former and current players are on the walls and even support pillars.

Two maize and blue Zamboni machines maintain the ice, piloted by young men wearing sports coats and ties to dress up the experience. During intermission, a choreographed skating performance by some young women is enjoyable.

The results create an intimate, cozy, and vibrant hockey experience.

Neighborhood 5

In recent years, various polls have rated the city of Ann Arbor as a great place to live and work. The university plays a key part in the city’s success story as it is located south of downtown; all of the schools’ athletic facilities are on the campus as well.

The best-rated nearby restaurants include Ashley’s and Pita Kabob Grill. The Zingerman Delicatessen is iconic and a very popular restaurant; there are now quite a few places with the same name in the area, just search for Zingerman and you will be well-served.

Other well-known options are Frita-Batidos, Westside Barbecue, and NeoPapalis.

As you might guess, there are a plethora of breweries in and around Ann Arbor. Give a try to Wolverine State Brewing Company, the Biercamp Microbrewery, and the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery.

Fans 5

The seating capacity is 5,800 and after the first five matches this 2018-2019 season, the average attendance is an impressive 5,582. Students sit in the southeast corner of the arena next to the school’s hockey band–a very lively bunch all. I laughed at one student’s sign which read: “Don’t Read This!” They keep the place rocking, offering chants and cheers which are quite clever.

Access 3

There is good news and bad news. The arena is located near the campus which is close to downtown. Yost is about 2.5 miles north of the State Street exit off I-94. The amount of traffic varies with the time of day and activities at the university. There are plenty of parking lots surrounding the arena; the current price to park your car is $10. Mass transit is available through The Ride bus system.

The stadium entrance is on the north side of the building When entering, fans are asked to remove their hats and open jackets for security along with bag checks. The age of the arena means that the width of the concourses can be somewhat congested. There were no lines at the restrooms during intermission during this visit.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets for Big 10 matches go for $30-$40, and as low as $15 for non-Big 10 opponents. If one wants to buy tickets for multiple games, lower prices are available in advance. Parking and food prices are similar to other universities. It’s all worth it when one considers the quality of the experience.

Extras 5

One point for the increased number of food options at the concession stands. A second point for the school’s decision to recognize retired coach Berenson with his name on the ice. The lively student section and band earn the third point, along with another point for the well-dressed men driving the two Zambonis (which can be viewed in the southwest corner). Finally, the overall experience and history of the facility are tremendous, earning the final fifth point.

Final Thoughts

Change happens and coach Pearson has his chance to add to the history of a very successful program. The university continues to make the fan’s experience better. A good time is had by all at a Michigan Wolverines hockey game.

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