Wednesday, April 11, 2007

End of Season Report Part III: Northwest Division

Part 3, Northwest Division.

Calgary Flames @ Pengrowth Saddledome 10/9 & 2/24:
Building: C+. The place looks like a submarine from the outside, the inside is not as nice, but it's not bad.
Seating Area: B. I didn't sit in the 300's, but from where I did sit, the view was great.
Atmosphere: B+. The "C" of Red, very cool and imposing, but the noise level was not great, possibly the game (SJ 4-1)
Concessions: C-. A few stands, pretty easy to get to, but the food was the generic stuff.
Hospitality: D. Hopefully it was just this one time, but the only contact they made with me was a thrown beer that did miss.

Overall Grade: C+. Finding my seat in 205 was difficult, but that was because the sign for it was laying on the ground. The building wasn't too tough to walk around, but the narrow concourses were. The fans seem like great fans, given the opportunity to be loud, and, except for that beer that ended up hitting the people behind me, they're not hostile, just not hospitible.

Colorado Avalanche @ Pepsi Center 11/15 & 3/18:
Building: A-. Huge outside, huge inside, but not too difficult to find your way, each entrance has an escalator right there.
Seating Area: B-. The view is great, but the seats are a bit narrow for me, especially with those cup holders on either side.
Atmosphere: C-. Quiet, not too energetic, and a quarter empty. Cheering loudly for icing and offsides, doesn't make up for it.
Concessions: A. Plentiful, tasty, and not too pricy, great combo. And those little toasty doughnuts? Who needs hockey?
Hospitality: D+. First time was fine, but unnecessarily rude behavior towards me after the second game.

Overall Grade: C+. The place is beautiful, the inside is large, the banners are a bit imposing (so many division banners), and the Pepsi ball that comes down from the scoreboard at intermission is just so dang cool. The food is good, the music is rockin, if only the fans on a whole were a bit more knowledgable (they initally cheered three penalties that they thought were on the Sharks, when they were really on the Avalanche), it would be an even greater experience.

Edmonton Oilers @ Rexall Place 10/12 & 1/26:
Building: C+. Not a bad building, but it's not the best either. The walkways are waaaay too cramped, it's quite silly.
Seating Area: C+. Sightlines aren't bad, but to be a grown man (or extra grown in my case) in the seats is a really tight fit.
Atmosphere: A. The fans are friendly, funny, educated, and most importantly, loud. The group rendition of "O Canada"? Wow.
Concessions: B-. Wasn't a terribly large selection of food, but all that there was had reasonable prices.
Hospitality: A+. Some of the nicest fans I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, and all razzing is polite and done with a smile.

Overall Grade: B. I thoroughly enjoyed my trips to Rexall, despite the extremely cramped seating upstairs. The great fans who fill this building make it totally worth it. During my last trip, there was a arena wide sing-a-long of "The Good Ole Hockey Game", another testament to how fun a hockey atmosphere it was. I would love to go back to Edmonton to see another game, but the Sharks do so poorly there, I wouldn't mind returning for a Teal-less game.

Minnesota Wild @ Xcel Energy Center 11/29 & 3/6:
Building: B+. Very nice arena, but the signage to get upstairs is non-existent. Walkways are nice and pretty wide.
Seating Area: B. Nice, wide seats, and the sightlines aren't bad, but sitting in the dark upstairs on the ends sucks.
Atmosphere: B-. The fans show up every night wearing the garb, are kinda loud, but leave early like most of the buildings.
Concessions: B-. Nothing special at the stands, bu the food and prices are decent. Gotta try the cheese curds, awesome.
Hospitality: B-. The normal people screaming "Sharks suck" at me, but more nice fans who were willing to converse nicely.

Overall Grade: B. Very nice building, and the whole "State of Hockey" thing really gets you in the mood for some puck. I can't help but think it's maybe a tad too big, because any arena that needs mood lighting is a little too large for it's britches. I like the lighthouse and the kid who comes out and plants the State of Hockey flag at center ice, but it's so far away. It's better than outside at least.

Vancouver Canucks @ GM Place 10/13 & 1/28:
Building: B+. Super nice place, super large too. The concourses aren't terribly wide though, and therefore packed.
Seating Area: B-. The upper level has great sight lines, and the lean bars are great, but turn on the lights please.
Atmosphere: B+. Canuck fans are totally insane, and insanely passionate, and despite their extreme drunkenness, nice too.
Concessions: C+. Nothing too special upstairs, and the lines and prices are quite intimidating anyway.
Hospitality: A-. The fans were very exuberant, and did some razzing, but they were very kind and inviting to me.

Overall Grade: B+. GM Place is a beautiful building, and, despite it's size, is truly great. Inside, the scoreboard is a stupid beautiful 100% HD board and almost worth the trip alone. The only real downside is for opposing fans, as the Canucks fans love their Canucks, and also love their beer, alot. Some of the upper level can be very rowdy, and a bit of a buzzkill for a fun evening of hockey.

Only a few hours til the Game 1 with the Nashville Predators, got some time to kill here in the Music City, takin in a Nashville Sounds AAA (Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) ballgame at 12 (10 am pacific). Look for the Pacific Division later this afternoon.


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