It was a great night for a hockey exhibition on Saturday at the PPL Center in Allentown. The sell-out crowd–said to be 8,600 but also reported at 7,600 in some places (some group areas weren’t sold…)–was clad in orange and had a good old time. The arena looked great set up for hockey, and the ice did very nicely. I was happy to be able to see the puck through all the advertisements! As I suspected, things were a bit different from the concerts–the crowds, the concourse set-up and more. Perhaps they’re still fine tuning, and that’s to be expected. The orange team beat the white team, but hockey won the day. Here are some other winners–and losers–from Saturday night:
- The color orange: I mentioned it long ago: there are a ton of Flyers fans in the area. It showed. The crowd was orange-clad all the way!
- Apparel sales: Despite the flood of orange, folks lined up at the three arena merchandise kiosks to purchase new Phantoms gear.
- Concessions: Folks lined up as well for food and drink. It will calm down a bit as we all get used to what they have and what we like. We’ll have some detailed menus and reviews posted in this space, upcoming, as well. As I mentioned, there were some differences in bar setups and beer availability compared with the concerts. I’m not sure why–could be just natural progression, or could have something to do with LCB event licenses or whatnot. We’ll see if they continue to fine tune it. Anyway, the game was at 5PM and everyone was hungry. Long lines for food and drink.
- Restaurants: We cut out in the third period to go get a bite to eat. We stopped in the 8th Street block to say hello to Bert at the Philly Pretzel shop. He reported good business at that location. We crossed the street to get a burger at the BrewWorks. They were busy, but we did get a seat right away. By the time we left, the line was 20-deep to get in. Other restaurants in the block had lines out front as well. It looked to be good business for all the eateries. Hopefully, they are able to fine tune their staff in order to provide efficient service to pre- and post-event hockey and concert fans!
- My Bladder: Perhaps it was the slightly smaller crowd for hockey compared with concerts, or perhaps the nature of the event simply provided for better “flow” (sorry), but the lines for the rest rooms seemed to be much improved. It’s still not optimal to have one door for both entry and egress, but perhaps that design wasn’t feasible with all of the other arena amenities which require real estate. Nevertheless, I was happy to see that it wasn’t quite so bad using the facilities.
- The parking savvy: Those who’ve read my advice regarding traffic and parking did very will in and out of the city on Saturday. Those that didn’t….well, suffered the consequences. See below.
- The ice: They kept it comfortably cool in the seating bowl, and the ice seemed to hold up quite well from where I was sitting. Perfect temperature in there for wearing a hockey sweater…
- The A/V guy: Those video boards were gorgeous; it was the first time I’d seen them in full effect. The PA sound was good as well–if a bit loud when they went to the remote guy. But they’re still getting it fine tuned. It’s really impressive. Hockey play is up on the board constantly during game action. It was nice for double checking (agian, sorry) the action when the puck was in the far/near corner or just out of view. Replays were plentiful and well-photographed.
- The Miller Lite Loft: It’s a cool hang out, up above the end seats opposite the concert end. Nice bar up there, too. Just don’t tell anyone because I don’t want it to get too crowded up there!
- The Seats: I sat in a number of places during the game: section 106, section 205 and up at the Miller Lite Loft. All were good seats–can’t complain at all for hockey, that’s for sure.
- meLVin: He skates, which is nice. And he seemed to be well-received in the stands and not distracting to the hockey action on the ice. I’m a fan, so far.
- The Agoraphobic: The concourses are wider than normal, it’s true. But, with everyone still experiencing the arena for the first time, making your way around the concourse was troublesome. If you’re not a fan of crowds, you wouldn’t like it at all.
- People who were hungry: Again with the lines. It should calm down, and the concessioners should be able to improve their efficiency with time and practice. But some of the lines for food where just crazy-like–even while the puck was in play!
- People who were thirsty: There seemed to be fewer places and fewer choices in the beer department. Perhaps things are still getting sorted out, or perhaps it has to do with differences on hockey vs. concert nights. We’ll see. I’ll report more as I learn–and certainly there are still plenty of choices there. Stay tuned. Oh, and again, the lines, and some beer taps weren’t working and some stands didn’t really have what was listed on their menus. They need to tighten it up.
- Those who like competition: It was difficult to know who to cheer for, you know? I’m glad no one was seriously injured in the game, and it was good to see some skilled play on the ice. I look forward to some real hockey on Wednesday, though–and then hockey that counts on 10/17.
- Penguins and Chocolate Bars: I’m just saying, with all that orange, not gonna be a terribly friendly place for the opposition to play. Particularly if you’re from Harrisburg or Wilkes-Barre or Binghamton.
- Fit and Finish: It seems like there are a lot of spots that need to be tuned up around the arena. Things left slightly unfinished or not yet optimized. Nothing glaring or horrible. Just this: it’s only going to get better!
- Chickie’s and Pete’s: A loser because they’re not open yet! It looks to be close, though–a lot of money on the table there as I’m sure that they’ll be doing a massive business as soon as they’re open. BTW, I was impressed with their menu. Look here. Hopefully, they’ll have the whole menu available at the arena site. They’ve got gluten-free stuff, too!
- People who don’t read my parking advice: I guess I’m going to have to keep saying it: AVOID 7TH AND LINDEN! The authority knows it’s a problem, and they’re working on it. However, the confluence of traffic, pedestrians, cross-traffic, and construction has yielded a troublesome and frustrating bottle-neck for motorists. If you’re coming from the North/Rt22, try to use one of the alternate streets toward the zone: 9th or 5th or even 15th, perhaps. If you’re coming in on Linden from the East, try to park as soon as you can via the State Lot, Linden garage, or Transportation Center. If you’re headed in from the South or West, don’t try to circle around. And for goodness sake, don’t try to park in the arena garage unless you have a pass for that facility–you won’t be able to get in and you’ll just clog traffic more. Once they clean up that construction, and once they open that new Parkway Bridge (not to mention 8th street out…), things will calm down a bit in that area.
- Photographers: The arena has rules about professional lenses and such. Luckily, there’s nothing professional about me or my camera equipment–but it’s not the usual high-quality photos you’re used to seeing on these pages. I did see some really good photos from an amateur at the arena. I’m not sure what he used, but there may be some ways around it. We’ll see what we can do.
OK, here are some images and things from my arena adventures:
See you at the arena,