Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati OH

Basic Information
Team: Cincinnati Kings (Professional Arena Soccer League)
Game: Kings vs Detroit Waza-11/20/2010
Team Website:
Ticket Information: (513) 349-1337 or
Tourism Information: (859) 581-2260 or
Online Broadcasts: None
Local Newspaper: Cincinnati Enquirer

Team History: A charter member of the Professional Arena Soccer League, the Cincinnati Kings indoor are now playing under their third name in three years. Previously known as 1790 Cincinnati and 1790 Cincinnati Express, the indoor team reached an agreement this fall with the United Soccer League's Cincinnati Kings to become a year-round team in which the two teams would share players and marketing opportunities.

How About That Name (And Some History): This is the first year that the Kings have played their home games at the Cincinnati Gardens, but indoor soccer is nothing new to the venerable building on the Queen City's north side. The Cincinnati Silverbacks of the NPSL played at the Gardens for two years from 1995 through 1997. The Gardens opened it's doors for the first time on February 22, 1949, and at the time was the seventh largest building in the United States. The building draws some of its lineage from Toronto's legendary Maple Leaf Gardens, as the two buildings are of similar design. Previous tenants of the Gardens included the NBA's Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings), and minor league hockey teams named the Mohawks, the Swords, the Cylcones, and the Mighty Ducks.

Getting There: From I-75: Go south on I-75, and get off at exit 9 (Paddock Rd/Seymour Ave). At top of ramp, make a left onto Paddock Rd. Take Paddock Rd for a quarter mile, then make a left onto Seymour Ave. Follow Seymour Ave for approximately a mile and a half. The Gardens will be on your left.

Nearby Airport: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is approximately 35 miles south of the Cincinnati Gardens.

What To Do Before The Game: One of my all-time favorite museums to visit is the Cincinnati Museum Center, located in the old Union Station rail terminal. Located just on the northern fringe of downtown Cincinnati, the classic "Art Deco" terminal now hosts four seperate attractions: the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Childrens Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Omnimax Theater. The Omnimax Theater is particularly enthralling, as it's 5 story high screen is set into the building's domed roof, which gives stunning views of the IMAX presentations. For more information on Museum Center events, call (800) 733-2077 or visit

Where To Eat Before The Game: There isn't much in the area around the Gardens, and to be honest, it really isn't in the best of areas. I recommend finding a restaurant nearer to your hotel.

Where To Stay: On this trip, the girls and I stayed at the La Quinta Inn in Sharonville. Located off of I-75 approximately 15 minutes north of the Gardens, the La Quinta is convenient, fairly inexpensive (we paid about $75.00 for a room with two beds), boasts an indoor swimming pool, free continental breakfast, and is near several restaurants. For more information, visit or call (800) SLEEP-LQ.

Ticket Prices: Kings tickets are priced as follows: $12.00 (adult) and $10.00 (youth and college students w/ID).

Parking: There is parking on either side of the Gardens, and an auxiliary lot across Seymour Ave. Since I didn't pay to park, I'm not sure what they charge to park in the Gardens' lots.

The Good Seats: The Gardens has seating on all four ends, but the majority of the seating is along the sidelines. The seating along the sides is double decked, and the old-fashioned wood slat seats are angled well enough to give everyone a good view. The seating on the ends stops about twenty feet above the field level. You can still get a good view on the ends, but if the action is down on your end, you have to hunch over a little to see it.

Getting In: The main lobby is the only entrance, and also is the location of the box office.

Arena Food: Since I was a bit occupied on the Waza bench (see photo), I will rely on Linda and Joan's impressions on the grub at the Gardens. According to the girls, they weren't that impressed with the cheeseburger that they bought, saying that it tasted like a soyburger that you might get in a school lunch line. Linda was much happier with the bratwurst, as it was fully bun sized, with a mild taste. She said it would have been better if it was grilled and not boiled, but it was still acceptable. She also approved of the pork link sausage, which she said was "spicy, hot, and very tasty".

There were two concession stands open, one on each side. There is a bar in one corner of the arena, near the entrance, which serves beer and mixed drinks. It's decorated with many hockey pucks of teams that played for and against the teams that visited the Queen City

Here are some of the prices from the Cincinnati Gardens' concession stands:

Hot Dog: $3.50 Hamburger: $3.50 (with cheese) Nachos: $3.50 (add $1.50 for a side order of extra cheese) Pretzel: $3.50 Bottle Soda: $2.00 Pizza Slice: $3.00

Soft Drinks: Pepsi products are sold at the Gardens.

Souvenirs: I didn't see any merchandise sold, but the girls said there was a small stand in the main concourse.

Restrooms: There are restrooms located on the ends of the arena opposite of the main entrance. They are rather old, but in good order.

Mascot: There is a mascot, a Kings' staffer that is wearing a cape, a "Burger King" mask, and carrying a scepter. He is nameless, but does a fairly good job circulating in the stands.

Program: A free roster card.

Scoreboard/Arena Voice: There is a large, centerhanging scoreboard (which a staffer told me was bought from Louisville's Freedom Hall several years back). It was not in use during the Kings game, but there was a smaller scoreboard mounted above one of the goals, which gave basic game information. The Kings also have a large screen which shows crystal clear images of the game action. The PA voice is pretty good, and the music is OK as well.

Arena Staff: Limited, but fairly helpful.

Arena Features: One of the nicer features of the Gardens is the "Legends of the Gardens" exhibit. Opened in 1999, in honor of the building's fiftieth anniversary, the large exhibit shows many pieces of memorablilia from the events and teams that called the Cincinnati Gardens home.

Atmosphere: Although there was only about 600 people in attendance, there was a decent atmosphere at the game. The people there knew soccer, and were very into the game. I've been there for Cyclones hockey games in the past, and when the team drew a big crowd (which was often), the Gardens was a rocking place!

Overall: The Cincinnati Gardens, which has just past it's sixtieth birthday, has something that many of the newer buildings don't have...character. It's one of those places where you can imagine what it was like to see a sporting event many years ago. Whether it's a long time home for the Kings is up for debate, the Gardens is still a viable venue and a hidden jewel for Cincy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, Jamestown NY

Basic Information
Team: Jamestown Jets (Greater Metro Hockey League)
Game: Jets vs Elliot Lakes Bobcats-10/23/10
Team Website:
Ticket Information: (716) 484-8167
Tourism Information: (866) 908-4569 or
Online Broadcasts: None
Local Newspaper: Jamestown Post-Journal

Team History: Now in their third season of play, the Jamestown Jets are in their first year as a member of the Greater Metro Hockey League, a "Junior A" league (made up mostly of players between 17 and 20 years old), which is based in the Greater Toronto area. The Jets are the only non-Canadian team in the league. In their first season of play, the Jets won the Southern Division regualr season title in the United Junior Hockey League.

How About That Name (And Some History): The Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena is the premier indoor sporting venue in New York's picturesque "Southern Tier". Located in downtown Jamestown, the JSBIA also serves as a community ice recreation center, as it has the 1,900 seat Time Warner Cable Arena and the Monster Energy Arena, a smaller ice pad used for figure skating and local youth hockey. The JSBIA has hosted professional ice hockey on and off since 2003, and has also hosted professional wrestling, concerts, and at the end of December, will host games as a part of Western New York's hosting of the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships.

Getting There: From I-86: exit at Exit 12 (NYS Route 60-North Main St). Follow Rt 60 south into downtown Jamestown. Make a right onto West 3rd St. The arena is at the intersection of W 3rd and Jefferson St.

Nearby Airport: The two largest airports in the area, Buffalo/Niagara Falls and Erie International, are both less than ninety minutes from Jamestown.

What To Do Before The Game: A short walk from the JSBIA is the Lucy and Desi Museum, a museum dedicated to the "first couple of 1960's comedy". Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Jamestown is the hometown of Lucille Ball, and the museum features memorabilia, exhibits, and interactive displays honoring the redhead, and also has the Desilu playhouse, which screens classic episodes of "I Love Lucy" as well as some of her other television classic moments. For more information, call (877) LUCYFAN or visit

A half an hour east of Jamestown on I-86 is the Seneca Allegany Casino. The impressive facility, one of several owned by the native Amerrican Seneca Nation, has a luxury hotel with over 200 rooms, a spa, and meeting facilities. The casino has over 2,000 slot machines of many denominations, table games, and several top-quality restaurants. For more information, visit

Where To Eat Before The Game: In the area of the hotel we stayed at, there wasn't a lot nearby. I would suggest checking with your favorite hotel for dining possibilities.

Where To Stay: Linda and I stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Falconer, approximately ten minutes from the arena. Like most Red Roofs, the rooms are clean, comfortable, and relatively inexpensive. For more information, call (800) THE-ROOF or visit

Ticket Prices: Jets tickets are prices as follows: $7.00 (adult), $6.00 (seniors), and $5.00 (children). There is a one dollar per seat fee if you purchase the tickets over the internet.

Parking: There are several small lots in the vicinity of the arena. We parked in a lot belonging to a local office building across the street, and it seemed to be open for free parking on Sundays.

The Good Seats: Since the arena holds only two thousand or so, every seat is near the ice. The lower bowl has six rows of seating, so you feel like you're right on the bench. The JSBIA has an upper level on one side of the arena, which also gives a good panorama of all the action. All of the seats had cup holders.

One thing that Linda and I noticed was that the closeness of our seats to the team benches had one unfortunate setback. There was a severe "locker room" aroma coming from the visiting team's bench. JSBIA grand poobah (and long time crony) Mike Ferguson informed me that the cause of that was probably due to the fact that the Elliot Lakes Bobcats played a game the night before, and after busing to the arena, probably didn't wash the mixture of sweat, blood, and God only knows what else before the morning's festivities!

Getting In: The large, airy lobby at the Arena also hosts the ticket counter as well as an area for skate rental!

Arena Foos: The JSBIA, despite it's size, has a fairly substantial concession menu. The arena's small restaurant/concession stand, called the Champion's Cafe, has an enclosed seating area where people can watch the events on either ice pad in climate controlled comfort.

Due to the fact that the arena also serves as a community center,the Champion's Cafe serves several breakfast items (cereal, danish, breakfast pizzas), and is also open for lunch on non-event days.

Here is a sampling of concession prices at the JSBIA:

Hot Dog: $3.75 (including french fries) Hamburger: $3.75 Pretzel: $2.50 Large Soda: $2.00 French Fries: $2.00 Personal Pizza: $4.00

Some of the more unique items served include grilled cheese, "Uncrustables" Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, and churros.

Soft Drinks: Pepsi is served at the JSBIA.

Souvenirs: There was a small table on the main concourse selling sweatshirts, sweatpants, and "Chuck a Pucks", but that was it. There is a pro shop adjacent to the lobby which sells hockey equipment.

Restrooms: There are restrooms located on the end of the arena opposite to the main entrance. Although they are small, they are spotlessly clean. There is another set of restrooms across from the pro shop.

Mascot: None

Program: None

Scoreboard/Arena Voice: There is a small, but adequate centerhanging scoreboard, which gives the basic game information. The PA announcer really didn't have a lot to do, as there were almost no advertising to be read and since there were perhaps 150 people in the building, there wasn't a lot of reason to get a crowd so small fired up. The game music leaned towards techno-dance music.

Arena Staff: There were no ushers to be seen, but everyone else at the JSBIA was friendly and welcoming.

Arena Features: Around the main concourse is a rubberized walking track, which gives the arena another clever use on non-event days. The track is measured, and eight laps of the concourse equals one mile.

Atmosphere: Sadly, almost none. The game started at 11AM (yes, you read that right) since the visitors had to be back in Ontario in time to get back to their housing billets. With that being said, you had to realize that it was going to be a "dog" date, attendance wise. The 150 or so were mostly friends and family of the players and people who strolled in after their morning church visit. However, I think that since the acoustics in the arena are pretty good, if they can get a decent crowd in, it would be a pretty lively place. Fortunately for the Jets, the Sunday morning dates are limited.

Overall: In my opinion, the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena is a prototype of what a small community arena should be like. It has a good location, excellent facilities, and infrastructure, and a dedicated staff. I would like to make a return visit when there is an event with a larger crowd in attendance so I can give the JSBIA a more accurate rating. However, in the aspects that I noticed on this trip, it more than measures up.