This weekend I had an opportunity to road trip with my friend from NC and follow the Coyotes on part of their four game road trip, I saw games in Raleigh and Atlanta. I will tell you about my experiences at both arenas; the facility, the fans, and the game.
We are definitely spoiled in Arizona, there really isn’t a bad professional arena (now that the Cardinals are out of ASU). The RBC Center, built in 1999, was previously called the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena. Catchy name I know, however it is a nice arena. The few problems I have with it are overshadowed by the positives. For one the Ticket booths are indoors… why this wasn’t thought of at Jobbing.com Arena is beyond me. The parking lots around the Center are well mainlined and close parking was had for $10 for all cars. Their scoreboard is huge and has great HD picture. Our seats were in the lower section about 5 rows off the ice, the thing I really liked about that is the lower sides have their own bathrooms and concessions. They are sectioned off from the lower ends and general admission; this is nice, especially since you spent $90+ on a ticket to have the shorter lines is a real plus. Concessions were great as it was $1 hot dog night and the beer was reasonably priced. The problems I have with the arena are that even though it was built in ’99, the exterior and the walkways are very nice and modern; the interior however feels about 20 years older. I don’t know why I feel this way, perhaps it’s the fact that the upper deck is only about 15 rows deep all the way around, or it was the odd covering on the celling. Either way it made it feel dated. Their mascot, Stormy, is the oddest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s an "anthropomorphic ice hog" according to Wikipedia… I guess because you can’t have wind and rain or a flag as a mascot. Overall it was an awesome game and the fans sitting around us were great. Even though we were howling at the top of our lungs for every goal, we didn’t get that ‘not those jerks again’ attitude from the fans. Hanzal and St empniak, almost made me lose my hat, and Briz’ was brilliant, I almost wish I had sat on the other end to see that performance for two periods. An excellent experience, I especially liked the John Deere Zambonis.
This is an odd one; the arena is right in the middle of downtown, and next to CNN Headquarters. Space is definitely at a premium, which may explain the ‘lopsided’ arena. The lower level is even all the way around, the section it starts getting weird is on the second and third level. The ends have seating but only the east side has seats. The whole west side is a wall of suites from the 200 level to the press box. The 400 level, where I was, is a narrow strip above the 300’s on the East Side. We missed part of the first period (Damn Daylight Savings time) the seats we were sold were literally broken, and on the floor. This wasn’t a problem since most of our section was empty, so we moved to the last row of the 300’s. Walkway wise it reminded me of the signage and architecture of the Pringle chip on McDowell, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, not good. The beer was reasonably priced at $7.50 for an import draught, as was the eats. The fans weren’t nearly as nice as Carolina’s; we all howled at the Yotes first goal, after the dirty looks and stares were over we were told by an 8 year old to "shut the hell up", nice! The arena was only about ¼ filled and between the 2nd and third period they dropped t-shirts, connected to parachutes, from the rafters. They dropped at least 75 if not 100 in two minutes; it was an impressive display, especially since almost everyone in the lower level got a free shirt. The main scoreboard is relatively new as the old one is prominently displayed in the lobby of the arena. The other LED boards on either end of the ice however appear to be from the late 80’s, 4 colors and missing many LEDs. The one very unique thing was the two thrasher heads suspended above the ice, they shot out 20’ flames for every Thrasher goal, very impressive! Thrash, the mascot looks like the Warner Brothers Roadrunner on LSD. Is it just me or thrashers logo looks like a Bowl of Soup? Aucoins game winner in the SO was fantastic and LaBarbera was great between the pipes. It was a great game, the fans on the other hand were not so.