Introduction: Some of this information may change over time, as the Arena and its tenants fine-tune the facility and its offerings. I’ll try to provide “updated” dates for added information–also, please feel free to leave additional information in the comments section. Some policies might be subject to change–or I could just be wrong. Please keep that in mind, as well. The purpose here is to provide as much information as we can to arena-goers so that each may maximize his/her experience at the facility. I find the resources available regarding most such facilities (arenas as well as ballparks and so on) are sorely lacking. It’s a great place–just trying to help you appreciate it to its fullest!
The Arena is located at 7th Street and Hamilton Street in the heart of downtown Allentown. It is a true “downtown” arena–and that was kind of the idea at its genesis. However, please do not put “701 Hamilton Street” in your GPS for the trip. You’ll want to plan your parking first–and use that address as well as advanced route, for GPS directions.
Advanced: Many of the streets surrounding the arena are one-way. Parking is “multi-site.” Planning your parking and entry route into the city will help prevent you from driving around, looking for parking. The streets surrounding the arena are well-lit, and security is ubiquitous at this juncture. It’s safe to park and walk.
While some who may live in Allentown may be able to walk or use public transportation to attend events at the PPL Center arena, most of us will have to arrive by private vehicle–and park. Parking is $6 for sporting events and $10 for other events such as concerts. It’s not clear where that line is drawn–but parking can be paid by cash or credit card on access to the parking garages and surface lots in the area. I altered the map below to try to show the routes into and out of the arena zone. I believe if you click on it, you can see a larger version. I also believe they may reverse 7th Street following some events in order to facilitate egress. At many of the sites, transportation assistance is available to shuttle you to the arena if you don’t want to–or are unable to–walk.
Parking Routes in Red. Modification (c) Kram209
Advanced Parking, volume 1: Note the color coded parking choices. As you enter the zone, you’ll see color coded signage which will direct you to parking. An additional web-active map is available at AllentownEventParking.com , which will show you available parking spaces in real time if you hover over the choices, using your smart phone. Please have a passenger in the car perform this task. The Parking Authority is also available via Twitter–and they are very responsive. Follow @AtownParking for up-to-the-minute parking information. (Do Not Tweet and Drive!)
Advanced Parking, volume 2: Especially on weekends, there seems to be a fair amount of on-street parking available in the zone. There are meters–many of which take both coins and credit cards–but the meters are only monitored until 6PM. If you locate an open street spot, in an area not too far from the arena, which is well-lit: Go for it. You’ll save the $6 or $10. Another way to save money on parking is by using the “Government Deck” at 4th and Hamilton. Shuttles are available, and that facility is only $3. It will be really easy to get to that one from the new Parkway Bridge, once it’s finished. Please use caution if parking in a private lot–if you get towed it will cost a lot more than $6! Even the on-street spots aren’t completely safe, though. Read this.
Advanced Parking, volume 3: There are a couple things to avoid. First, avoid the intersection of Seventh Street and Linden Street. The confluence of two major entry (and exit) routes, with pedestrians from the nearby parking facilities, with new construction, has created a major bottleneck there. Avoid it if you can. Second, do not attempt to park in the Arena Garage–it is mostly for the VIPs and suite holders, as well as the LVHN building and eventually the hotel–and whatnot. Finally, avoid driving around in circles if you can help it; it just adds to the traffic. Park and walk, if you can.
Advanced Parking, volume 4: Handicap and Accessible parking options may still be a problem. From what I’ve heard so far, parking via the Linden Street Arena Parking entrance and taking the elevator directly to the concourse behind section 107 works very well. However, as mentioned above, those spots are extremely limited and may be full by the time you get there. Most lots and decks have designated spaces–and there are shuttles to help–but that may not be an appropriate option for everybody. I’ll try to gather more information. Perhaps a call to the Parking Authority in advance can provide further information about your parking needs, in this instance. I also saw a couple street spots empty the other day along 7th Street, just South of the arena, on the left (it’s one-way). Look for the blue curb.
Advanced Parking, volume 5: If you’re headed downtown early to grab a bite at one of the nearby restaurants, you may be able to take advantage of valet parking. I believe the Cosmopolitan and the Hamilton Kitchen offer this service for $20 (plus tip?). It’s not a way to save money, but does add a modicum of convenience for a night out on the town. Once the hotel opens in January 2015, or so, if you’re staying over–that will give you access to parking, I believe.
Seating Charts: I’ll add them at the bottom; please scroll down. I’ll try to add appropriate charts for hockey, football, basketball, and concerts. Check the PPL Center web site for your event for a more specific chart. There are approximately 21 rows in the lower bowl, and 14 in the upper. Some sections may vary based on arena structure. The first rows of the sections in the lower bowl are on collapsible risers–depending on the event and the setup, “row 6″ or “row 7″ might be the front row. The last rows may include accessible areas and support stanchions, so seat numbering may not match the row in front of it. Extra rows of folding-chair-style seats are added where the hockey benches usually are–for basketball, concerts and the like. There are bar-chair/rail seats at the western end of the arena in the final row. They have numbers, but I’m not sure if they are sold or are for general use. There are general use areas at the far western end of the arena, as well as near the bar behind section 107, and in the Miller Lite Loft in the upper Southeast corner, access via the stairs to section 210 and 211. As far as I know, the arena does not sell “general admission” seats for most events. All of the seats in the arena are nicely padded and are very comfortable. Seats in the upper and lower bowl are slightly smaller than the seats in the “club” sections. Those seats are, in turn, slightly smaller than the suite seats. Finally, the largest most comfortable seats seem to be the ones in the “Loge” boxes. If you have difficulty with heights, you may want to decline an invitation to the “level 4″ suites; they do sit high above the arena floor and in some cases the view feels almost straight down. However, you could always stay back in the boxed area and enjoy the catering! The seats in the front 5-7 rows for hockey are on collapsible risers. These seats differ somewhat in that they seem to be just a hair smaller, and the cup holders are on the short, folding arms (rendering them practically useless, but…). If your seats are set up on other risers, on the floor, or in other make-shift areas, they will be folding-chair-style seats which are nicely padded, but small and possibly locked together.
Advanced: Because the arena is not huge, there’s really not a bad seat in the place, and you’re never too far from the action. The seating in the upper bowl for concerts will cause you to have to look and turn to the right. In some areas, you’ll have to peer through a railing, a stairway in use, and a piece of Plexiglas. This is not always the best view. Also, sound damping has been added to the metal roof in many areas, improving the sound for concerts. However, above the upper bowl–as well as above the upper suites I think–there is none. The sound is a little echo-y up there. Sound down on the floor for concerts has been superb thus far. However, while the floor seats are nicely padded, they are very close together and locked via “tongue and groove.” Also, keep in mind when selecting floor seating for concerts that many (most?) people will want to stand the whole time, regardless. Here are two seating views for hockey:
View From the 106, Near the Top. Photo: DiPro
Game Play from section 205. Photo: @Kram209
Concourse Map: Here’s a concourse map, where I’ve added some important landmarks. I’ll try to do a better job and provide a neater, more accurate one in the future. It is a 360-degree concourse; you can walk all the way around the arena. There is a hallway that runs behind the club area and in front of Chickie’s and Pete’s. That’s the only area where you can’t see the ice or at least the big screens from the concourses. During concerts, there are curtains which are drawn to block out the light from the concourse. Click to see a bigger view.
Concourse Map from PPLCenter–scribbles by Kram.
Advanced: The restrooms on the main concourse on the North side of the arena are the most crowded. This has been a problem at times–particularly during concerts. Check the other restroom locations to avoid the longer lines. As I mentioned above, use the stairway for section(s) 211/210 to access the Miller Lite Loft–labeled MLL on the map. Just keep going up until you reach a concourse area above the upper bowl. There will be a bar to your right, and an open area to your left–probably will be used for group functions eventually. As far as I could tell, there are no restrooms in the loft! Don’t drink too much up there or you won’t be able to get down all those stairs!
Concessions and Team Shops: The main team shop is in an area on the East end of the arena that I refer to as the “rotunda.” The store is not terribly large, and they limit access to it to only a few people at a time. Plan on standing in line to get in. Phantoms season ticket holders receive a 15% discount on gear–but you must ask for it. There is another area near the main gate and Tim Horton’s, and a third, very small area near the 8th Street gate which has children’s items. Word is, a larger, more permanent team shop will open in or near that rotunda area, in January 2015. For now, there is a small team store open at the corner of 8th and Hamilton–but, only open on non-game days!
There are many, and varied concessions throughout the concourse. Pricing is steep, but not completely out of line with ballpark and arena prices in the area. It is more than Coca Cola Park, though, if you want a reference. I’ve attempted to label some of these things on the concourse map above, but the following are available as you walk the 360 concourse counter-clockwise from the main entrance (Tim Horton’s):
- Bavarian Roasted Nuts
- Grilled Sausages and Chicken, Hot Dogs
- Gourmet Burgers and fries (some > $10, but quality good)
- Some Specialty Beers, above and beside
- More grilled sausages and Hot Dogs
- Salads and Wraps
- Nacho Stand
- Pizza and Italian Fare
- Grilled fare, including chicken, and Hot Dogs
- Asian noodles (near 8th Street Entrance)
- Arena fare (near LVHN Entrance): Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
- Chickie’s and Pete’s
- Macaroni and Cheese and variations there-of (back near main entrance)
- Tim Horton’s coffee and pastries
I’ll try to fill these in a little better with menu specifics and prices, as I become more familiar with each stand. The sausages I’ve had have been good. The gourmet burger was good as well–albeit a bit pricey. Grilled chicken skewer was good.
Advanced: Despite the many and varied offerings, lines have been long and service slow thus far. Perhaps that will improve, but you many consider eating before you enter the arena, which brings us to:
Restaurants: There are three restaurants “connected” to the arena. That is to say, they are in the arena block. Tim Horton’s (“Timmie’s”) Coffee and Pastries, and Chickie’s and Pete’s Sports Bar have access directly to the concourse of the arena! I’m unsure how access and re-entry work during an event, but word is that you can be checked in and out via scan of your event ticket. You can take your drink from the bar at Chickie’s and Pete’s in to the arena; however, you cannot take any glass items. The PPL Center does not allow re-entry; however, they may have a way to regulate it and monitor via ticket scanning at the restaurants. The third restaurant, Crust, has access outside on Hamilton Street. They feature coal-fired gourmet pizzas and other interesting fare. They have additional seating on their second level. Chickie’s and Pete’s has a more extensive menu than I thought, and is quite large inside. The pre- and post-game TV shows are broadcast from a sound stage near the door. That “studio” is also used for some radio broadcasts at other times.
Advanced: There are many, many restaurants and bars nearby, as well. This is part of the center city revitalization. On the higher end, consider the Hamilton Kitchen across the street, or the Cosmopolitan on N 6th Street. The Bay Leaf is on Hamilton Street between 9th and 10th. ROAR Social House is just across the street from the Arena. Th Dime will be the restaurant connected with the arena hotel. It will feature dining above the main arena glass gate, and should open in January 2015. The Federal Grill may reopen at some point as well. But fine dining can be a little “uncomfortable” in hockey attire, so:
For a more casual atmosphere, the Allentown Brew Works is a nice place to visit. There are other pizza, bagel, burrito, and other casual fare choices in the immediate vicinity as well. If it’s lunch time or breakfast time (only), consider the Billy’s Downtown Diner location, nearby. There may even be a hot dog cart or two about–an excellent choice! Our friends at Philly Pretzel have an outlet on Hamilton in the 8th Street block–more than just pretzels, you can get a pretzel dog or a pretzel cheese steak sometimes. And speaking of steaks, Tony Luke’s will open a location downtown soon. Finally, please note that there is no tailgating in the city-owned lots. You might get away with having a beverage or a sandwich near your car, but I bet if you put up a tent and pull out a grill, you’ll attract some of that ubiquitous security I spoke of a few paragraphs back.
A word for my Canadian friends: Yes, the arena has a “Timmie’s.” It’s true! I know it’s more popular in Canada than McDonalds! Also, the ROAR Social House has Poutine on the menu! It’s pricey, but if you’re in the mood…
Beer and Adult Beverages: There are many, and varied beer choices about the arena. When I have time, I’ll try to map them all out for you. However, Miller Lite is widely available, as is Bud Light. Coors Light is available, too. Local favorite Yuengling Lager is widely available. Micro-brews and imports are about, as well. During Phantoms hockey games, 20 oz domestic drafts are $8. They haven’t been filling them to the top, so that’s a potential problem. 16 oz micros and imports are also $8. 16 oz cans of Bud Light or Miller Lite are also $8, while 12 oz bottle are $6, I believe. 24-oz “bomber” cans are becoming more widely availabe throughout the concourse. On the domestic side, you can find Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Lite, and Lager. For imports, I’ve seen Labatt’s and Heineken. They are $9 for domestic and I believe $10 for imports–although it could be more. Wine and liquor are available up at the Miller Lite Loft, as well as at the bar in Chickie’s and Pete’s. The wine offerings are pretty pedestrian, but we’re talking about a hockey arena here. For hockey, I believe that beer sales end and the conclusion of the second intermission at all concourse locations–but continue in the Miller Lite Loft and in C+P. If you are a guest in one of the Suites, you can proceed down the corridor heading East, and through the glass doors to enter the Miller Lite Loft should you need an adult beverage not provided for you in the suite. Otherwise, as mentioned above, access the Miller Lite Loft (‘MLL’) from the stairs to sections 211/210 or C+P from the hall roughly behind the club sections 115/116.
Advanced: Things are a little different during concerts: Additional “bomber” choices are available on the concourse–as are beer and wine. Of course, everything should always be available in the Morning Call Club Section, at the bar.
View straight down, from the Miller Lite Loft
Rules and Security: There may be specific rules for some concerts depending on the artists’ wishes. However, in general, the PPL Center does not allow re-entry without an additional ticket. Also, they’ve restricted cameras by saying “no professional lenses” and “no detachable lenses.” There is no smoking at the arena; I’m unsure if they’ve allowed for an area of smoke and re-enter at this juncture. Bags will be checked on entry, and a variety of other frisking, metal detectors and other methods have been in use. It has varied by event thus far, and the staff has been efficient and professional.
Dress Code: There is no specific dress code for arena events. Perhaps you’ll want to dress according to which restaurant you’ll be eating in prior to, or after the game? Otherwise, the thing to keep in mind is that they need to keep that ice suitable for competitive hockey. That means it’s kinda cool in there. In the fall or summer months when it’s warm outside, you might want to consider a sweater (hey, buy a hockey sweater!) for the games. Other events during hockey season might also have the arena inside temp on the cooler side. Please take that into account when choosing your attire.
Internet and Communications: The metal roof of the arena structure, coupled with the surrounding tall buildings, has left the arena bowl and floor with very poor cell coverage. I’ve heard this from both AT&T and Verizon customers. We have pointed this out to them in previous posts, so I hope they’re listening; having “repeaters” installed with a roof antenna shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Perhaps they can work on a deal to give Verizon +/or AT&T some advertising in exchange? I’ve been mostly unable to access public WiFi within the building, as well. I know it’s good to just put the handheld devices away and enjoy the game, but it does become somewhat of a safety hazard in 2014, when everyone is expected to be available in case of emergencies–not to mention keeping track of the kiddos and so on. As someone who has to be “on call” on occasion, I’d appreciate it very much if they could improve the coverage within the arena structure.
Advanced: There is a PennTeleData hotspot available, if you qualify for that service. Perhaps Service Electric will provide a connection like at Coca Cola Park–but it’s mostly unnecessary for game view what with the giant video screens. You may be able to access the LVHN network from their building next door. There are wireless networks set up for the performers (concerts) and the press box (I assume). If you qualify, or know the right people, that can be handy. I was able to get a pretty good cell signal out in the “rotunda” area, by the windows that face 7th Street.
“Glass” Seats: Sitting “on the glass” is a neat way to watch a game. A season ticket package on the glass at the PPL Center will run you $1220.00 per season on a 3- or 5-year contract for Phantoms hockey. This comes to about $29/game on the 42-game package; the Phantoms have the single-game price for these seats at $48 (plus fees…). On the secondary market, you might find these seats for $79 each, or so. “Glass” tickets also allow you access to the Morning Call Club area.
“Club Level”: There’s no “level” for the club. The “Morning Call Club” is located behind sections 115 and 116, and includes the center-ice half of sections 117 and 114 and maybe more–as the latest map I’ve seen has it expanded even further. The “Club” has it’s own bar, of course, as well as it’s own rest rooms. Some concession items are available within the club, as well as a carving station with premium choices. Tables and chairs and flat-screens are about, as in other club-levels in arenas and stadiums. You can access the club only with an appropriate ticket, near the rear of section 113 at the main entrance, or via the concourse at a door at the rear of sections 116-117. The seats in the club sections are slightly larger and slightly further apart. The “pitch” of the arena rows also appears a little steeper, providing improved site lines. On a season-ticket basis, seats in the Club cost roughly $42/seat/game. I believe they are sold out, but they do provide for “right of first refusal” on ALL arena events–kinda nice. On the secondary market, you can purchase them for around $65 each for hockey.
The Morning Call Club
Advanced: “Loge” boxes are located at the rear of the club sections. Mostly, they are leased by companies like the luxury boxes up above. However, some may be available for per-event lease. They have available catering, and wait staff, large leather-like chairs, and private flat-screens–but are small, perhaps only 5-10 seats each. Ice-level “bunker” suites are located down below the club section, and are probably most easily accessed by elevator should you have a ticket for one. These suites provide NO view of the ice or arena stage; however, they include club section seating via the two mini tunnels in section 114 and 117. There are nice lounge areas down there, as well as some game-room-type things like foose-ball and rod-hockey. The suites themselves have VERY large flat screens for enjoying the action without being in your seat.
Group Areas and Suites: I believe groups will be hosted in sections 208 and 202 in most cases. In addition, there are some premium locations you can rent on a per-game basis. “Party Suites” of a couple styles. The BSI Ice Suite is located near the East tunnel, where the players enter the ice. Group guests can greet the players on the way to the ice! The buffet and group area is underneath section 109, with glass-side access in front of section 108 and 109. They are able to accommodate large groups there. Luxury boxes up above sections 112 and 113 are expandable to provide for varying sized groups. Prices may vary depending on the type of event, but 26 tickets for a regular season hockey game will run approximately $1400.00. And, that doesn’t include the catering, which has to be purchased from the arena catering service. The catering menu is very nice, though, and not overly expensive considering the ticket prices and other arena food options. Suite rentals also include a certain number of parking passes in the arena garage–where I believe you can take an elevator directly to the suite levels.
BSI Ice Suite
larger, “party” suite
Ice-Level “Bunker” Suite
PPL Center Arena Seating Chart Samples:
Typical Concert Seating
SteelHawks Professional Indoor Football, starting Spring, 2015
And that’s a wrap,
See you at the arena! “How YOU doin’?”