Wednesday, August 8, 2007

WCHA Arena No. 8 – Alltel Center

Two weeks ago, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA arenas are the best. I'm basing my list off of three criteria (Arena, Atmosphere, and Crowd). For a detailed list of what these three items mean to me, click here and scroll down a bit.

Here is a list of the arenas that I've already covered:

10. Sullivan Arena - Anchorage, AK
9. John MacInnes Student Ice Arena – Houghton, MI

This week, its arena No. 8: the Alltel Center (formally known as the Midwest Wireless Civic Center) which is home to the Minnesota State Mavericks.


Now known as the Alltel Center thanks to Alltel’s acquisition of Midwest Wireless, the Midwest the building is a fairly safe bet for the average WCHA or college hockey fan.

The 4,832 seat arena is similar to some of the other smaller arenas in the WCHA, such as the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud or Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. The Alltel Center features a horse-shoe type design, with seating on three of the four sides of the Olympic-sized ice sheet.

Inside the arena, the sightlines for viewing aren’t too bad. Some of the seats on the open end of the horseshoe can get kind of far away from the action, but other than that, fans should have no trouble getting a clear view of the game. Unless you’re attending a Gopher / Maverick contest, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting good seats.

The arena is off-campus and is a join-venture between the city and the university, and alcohol is sold at the arena. Somewhat along those lines: watch out for lines in the bathrooms if there is a packed house.

There is a fair amount of parking near the arena, including a good-sized ramp that is southwest of the arena along Riverfront Drive – you can’t miss it.


The atmosphere for Maverick games can get to be fairly good for a team that has generally been a bottom-half team in the WCHA over time, and certainly much better than the atmosphere one will typically find in Anchorage or Houghton.

One thing that I find important is the presence of a band, which is something the Alltel Center features. Located right next to the student section and behind the net of the opposing team for two of the three periods, they do a good job getting the crowd into the game.

After the Mavericks score a goal though, the celebration music comes from the sound system within the arena. Anyone who has been to a game at the Alltel Center knows that the infamous “ole ... ole ole ole” song blasts through the speakers, and that really gets the crowd going. As generic as that song may be, it does the trick in this instance.

I have been to a pair of games in Mankato that didn’t involve the Gophers, and there was – not surprisingly – a drop off in intensity in terms of atmosphere.


The average crowd member at the Alltel Center isn’t head-over-heels into the game, but like I eluded to earlier, they certainly aren’t at the bottom of the WCHA in terms of fan involvement. Like any team, the better the Mavs are doing on the season – and in particular on that evening – can really influence the crowd and its level of involvement.

The student section can be hit or miss, much like the rest of the crowd, depending a bit upon on the Mavs are doing on the ice. For Gopher games specifically, they get quite into the game, although there seems to be more Gopher fans in the Minnesota State student section than at any other visiting arena.


My opinion of the Alltel Center is probably inflated because I generally see the Gophers play there, which usually increases the amount of people in the building and tends to bring out the best of opposing fans, mainly because the Mavericks are of course an in-state opponent for the Gophers.

That being said, I feel that the arena itself is very good, especially when you consider it’s a multi-purpose facility. If the Mavericks were able to string together a handful of successful seasons on the ice, I think the Alltel Center could turn into a real home-ice advantage for Minnesota State.

Overall Grade: C+