Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Perani Arena and Events Center, Flint MI

Basic Information
Team: Michigan Warriors (North American Hockey League)
Game: Warriors vs Port Huron Fighting Falcons-9/24/2011
Team Website: http://www.mywarriors.net/
Ticket Information: (810) 744-0580
Tourism Information:  (810) 232-8900 or http://www.flint.travel/
Online Broadcasts:  WWCK-AM http://www.supertalk1570.com/
Local Newspaper: Flint Journal www.mlive.com/flintjournal

Team History: Now in their second season of play in Flint, the Junior A Michigan Warriors are the latest entry in the long and storied history of hockey in Flint. The Warriors were originally known as the Marquette (MI) Rangers, playing in that city for three seasons before being moved to Flint. Last season, their first in Flint, the Warriors won the North American Hockey League's Northern Division championship.

Arena Capacity: The Perani Arena can hold 4,021 for Warriors games.

How About That Name (And Some History): Originally, it was known as the IMA Sports Arena, Perani Arena was opened in 1969 as the home of the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League. . The IMA Sports Arena was not only the home of the Generals, but also hosted professional basketball, concerts, and indoor football. The Flint-based Perani's Hockey World, owned by former General Bob Perani, purchased the naming rights for the arena several years ago, giving the building its current name. In addition to the hockey arena, the complex also has a 27,000 square foot convention hall.

On The Town: Once an automobile manufacturing center, Flint is an hour north of Detroit and has a population of 102,000, making it the seventh largest city in the state of Michigan.
Once the home of several tribes of Ojibwa Indians, a fur trader named Jacob Smith built a trading post on the shores of the Flint River in 1819. Smith was well regarded by both the natives and the United States government, as he negotiated several land purchases between the tribes and the United States, helping build Flint's success as a overland stopping point on the road between Saginaw and Detroit.

Flint was a thriving lumber center in the late nineteenth century when the Buick Motor Company built their new factory in Flint at the turn of the century, and soon Buick was the largest manufacturer of horseless carriages in the country. In 1908, William Durant, who was brought in to run the Buick plant in 1904, left to form General Motors, who also set up shop in Flint. General Motors still has several plants in the Flint area.

Flint is serviced by two major interstate highways, I-75, which runs south to Detroit and Toledo and north towards Saginaw, and I-69, which heads north to Port Huron and south to Indianapolis.

Notable Flint natives include radio DJ and host of the Newlywed Game Bob Eubanks, 2009 Heisman Trophy Winner Mark Ingram, former star baseball player Jim Abbott, movie maker and political activist Michael Moore, and sixties and seventies rock icons Grand Funk Railroad.
Getting There: From Detroit, take I-75 to I-475 towards downtown Flint (exit 111). Follow for approximately six miles to the intersection of I-69 east (exit 6). Proceed for a mile to Dort Hwy (exit 138). Exit and make a right onto Dort Hwy. Follow for a half mile to Lapeer Rd. Make a left onto Lapeer Rd, and follow for approximately two miles and the arena complex will be on your left.

Nearby Airport: Bishop International Airport is 11 miles southwest of Perani Arena. In addition, Detroit Metropolitan Airport is 81 miles southeast of Perani Arena.

What To Do: This was an "in and outer" for me, so I can't really give any helpful hints there. I would contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information.

Where To Eat Before The Game: Same answer as above. There is nothing in the immediate vicinity of the arena in terms of food choices. There are several fast food restaurants on Dort Hwy, but the neighborhood might be considered a bit "dicey", especially after dark.

Where To Stay: On this trip, I stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Troy, which is about 55 miles south of Flint. One of the Warriors' sponsors is the AmericInn, which is approximately ten minutes from the arena. I stayed at an AmericInn in Davenport, IA two years ago, and if the one in Flint is anything like the one I stayed at, I would highly recommend it. For more information, call (800) 634-3444 or visit http://www.americinn.com/.

Ticket Prices: Warriors tickets are priced as follows $8.00 (premium) and $7.00 (general).

Parking: The Perani Arena has a large on-site lot that is more than adequate. I do not recommend parking anywhere else, as the neighborhood around the arena is not the best. I arrived early enough so I wasn't charged for parking.

The Good Seats: There are two levels of seating at the Perani Arena: the upper level is permanent seating of the typical arena type, and the lower level, which is on risers, has folding chairs. Nonetheless, sightlines are good all the way around. The arena also has an inner concourse, so if you prefer standing, you can find your favorite vantage point fairly easily.
Getting In: The main entrance to the complex leads you into a large atrium which divides the hockey arena from the convention hall. The box office is located in the atrium.

Arena Food: The Perani Arena recently underwent a million dollar renovation, which included updates to their concession stands, which after my visit, seems to be a good investment.

Three of the four corners of the building have food stands, with the fourth having been into the Bud Light Penalty Box, which serves tap and canned beer and mixed drinks.

The food stands serve the basic arena-style food, with the only real "specialty item" being the "Monster Dog". This one pound dog is served on a hoagie bun covered with nacho cheese and jalapenos. It looked to be a meal in itself, and for $6.00, didn't seem like too high of a price.
I was fairly hungry, so I decided to run the gamut, picking up 2 hot dogs, a slice of pizza, and a large Coke. The total price for the whole thing was a jaw-dropping ten dollars-a total bargain! The food was OK, with the hot dogs being relatively tasty and warm. The pizza could have been a bit better, but it certainly wasn't the worst!

Here is a sampling of the concession prices at Perani Arena:

Hot Dog: $2.50   Nachos: $3.50   Beer: $4.50 (cans)   Pretzel: $3.00   Large Soda: $2..50   Ice Cream: $1.00/$2.00   Pizza Slice: $2.00

Soft Drinks: Coca-Cola products are served at the Perani Arena.

ATM: A "no-brand" ATM is located in the entrance atrium.

Souvenirs: A small table located on the concourse sells a small line of Warriors merchandise.
Restrooms: There are mens and womens restrooms located on the concourse level of the arena. Although I thought they were a bit on the cramped side, they were very clean, functional, and well stocked.

Mascot: "The Warrior" circulates in the stands throughout most of the game.

Dance Team: The "Down the Hatch" Girls, named for a local drinking establishment, pass out programs before the game, and assist in promotions between the first and second periods.

Program: The Warriors hand out a small, free brochure with bios of the home team before the game. It would be helpful, however, if they could insert a roster of the visitors as well.
Scoreboard/Arena Voice: The Perani Arena has an adequate sized scoreboard suspended above center ice, which gives all of the basic game information. It's pretty much no-frills, kind of like the rest of the arena. The acoustics are good, and the PA voice is adequate. The music selections were fair, but it was funny to hear the entrance music of former WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior as the team's goal/player introduction music.

Arena Staff: There wasn't a lot of them, but the ones I encountered were pleasant and friendly.

Atmosphere: Well, with maybe three or four hundred (by my guess) in attendance, there really wasn't much of one. It seemed to me that half of the people there made the hour drive down from Port Huron to see their youngsters in action.

Overall Rating: I was pleasantly surprised by Perani Arena. Although the bells and whistles that permeate most arenas were nowhere to be seen, they would not have fit in here. As I had discussed with a few of the people that I met, Perani Arena is a place to watch hockey, plain and simple, which isn't a bad thing.