Everything you need to know if you’re coming to Allentown for the AHL All Star Game 2017–by the fans for the fans:
Hi Hockey friends! As the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the PPL Center Arena, and the City of Allentown prepare to host the world for the AHL All Star Festivities, I’ll be your local blog host. I’ve gathered as much information as I could below, but I’ll include contact information and the comments section is open so that you can ask questions or share experiences from this year’s event.
I know I wrote “insider” above, but really I’m just a fan who knows
everything a lot of stuff. If you haven’t been on these pages before, I write a game-day column about the team to get the local fans ready for each game before it happens. I don’t write “gamers” post-game because there are many other outlets who provide that. For this reason, I feel like I’m an advanced resource for you as you make your way to Allentown, PA for this hockey weekend–or even if you’re just curious about how this will all go.
First, you’re going to need tickets before you make the trip. The events will probably sell out, so I’d certainly advise making these arrangements prior to your travel plans. I’ll provide ticket links in a second, but first let’s look at the times and dates for the events of this weekend:
“Fan Fest” 11AM-3PM Saturday 1/28/17
We haven’t been told exactly what this will entail, but I’d imagine it’s similar to the “carnival” the Phantoms hold for season ticket holders each Spring. I’d plan on inflatables and Zamboni’s to climb on for the kiddos, and hockey-based games around the concourse and on the arena floor. You may be able to explore the arena a bit and find your seats for the game if you’re curious. I imagine concessions will be open if you’re hungry. I picture that this even will be best for families and kids. There could be players around to mingle with? We’ll see.
[EDIT: Maybe not even this much stuff. No players. See comments below.]
[EDIT2, From the Team:
The Phan Fest is the perfect way to kick off All-Star Weekend! A carnival-themed event, the Phan Fest will include multiple inflatables like the 18-foot slide, obstacle course and jousting, and will feature plenty of games located on the arena floor, including cornhole, hockey games and the chance to shoot on net.DJ Tom Taylor will be on the main stage playing your favorite music and we’ll also have silent disco, the new unique way to listen to live music.
“Tailgate Party” 6PM-10PM Saturday 1/28/2017
This one is more intriguing to me, as I’m not sure what they have planned. Perhaps special food and drink stations around the concourse and more adult-style tailgate games? Some spots for the different fan clubs and booster clubs to congregate and mingle? An opportunity for sponsors to give you free stuff? Players and autographs?
I’m just guessing. But if you don’t have kids and you’re coming into town later on Saturday, this is probably a good opportunity to check out the arena and its amenities. The NHL skills competition will be taking place in Los Angeles at 7PM local time, so I’d imagine they’ll have that on the big screens and monitors.
[EDIT: Beer tasting with special glass. No players. See comments below.]
[EDIT: Over 60 beers to taste–commemorative tasting glass available for purchase $10 in advance or $15 at event, with 5 free tasting coupons.]
[EDIT3, From the Team:
The All-Star Tailgate Party features a little something for everyone. Live music from Emily’s Toy Box will echo throughout PPL Center while fans enjoy games like giant pong, jumbo Jenga and cornhole along with multiple inflatables, including the Velcro Wall and Bungee Run.On the concourse, fans are encouraged to participate in the Beer Fest where they’ll be able to sample over 60 different types of beer. A souvenir beer glass and 5 drink tickets are available for just $10 in advance ($15 on the day of the event) at the PPL Center Box Office or by calling 610-224-4625. Additional drink tickets will be available for purchase at the concession stands throughout the Tailgate Party.
All Star Skills Competition 7:30PM Sunday 1/29/2017
I’ve seen this listed at 8PM as well, so double check the times. Prior to this event, and Monday night, we may post a “pre-game” to cover not only event details, but players to watch as well. Stay tuned for that.
From the team:
AHL SKILLS COMPETITION!Sunday, January 29, 7:30 p.m.Watch Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal, T.J. Brennan and the rest of the 2017 AHL All-Stars showcase their talents in a variety of skills competitions including hardest shot, accuracy shooting, puck control relay and more!And stick around afterwards for an autograph session with all of the 2017 All-Stars!
All Star Hall of Fame Induction 11AM Monday 1/30/2017
Again, the exact time may be changed, but here’s what the team has to say about this:
Since it’s creation in 2006, the AHL Hall of Fame has become a direct way of honoring some of the very best individuals that have made major contributions and achieved greatness within the American Hockey League.
From historic names like Eddie Shore, Johnny Bower and Jack Butterfield to greats from the Flyers organization like: the first-ever captain of the Philadelphia Phantoms, defenseman John Stevens, who helped the Phantoms win the 1998 Calder Cup Championship and later coached the team to another Calder Cup Championship in 2005; two-time, Eddie Shore Award winner, defenseman John Slaney, who helped claim the 2005 Calder Cup Championship for the Phantoms; and the late Bill Dineen, who’s name is synonymous with hockey greatness in the Glens Falls, New York, area of the Adirondack Mountains and who later went on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers.
The 2017 AHL Hall of Fame class will be inducted during the All-Star Weekend festivities on January 30 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The 2017 class — which marks the Hall of Fame’s 12th induction — will include Billy Dea, Bryan Helmer, Rob Murray and Doug Yingst.
I do not believe this is a ticketed event, so if you’re in town and you want to check it out, c’mon down/over to the
arena. If I hear more I’ll update.
[UPDATE: This event will take place at Miller Symphony Hall, on Sixth Street near Linden. It is unknown whether tickets will be required.]
[UPDATE: This will be a ticketed event, with most tickets controlled by the league. Those who purchase full packages may have the opportunity to acquire limited tickets at no additional cost, but details are still being decided. Check back for further updates.]
[UPDATE: If you’d like tickets to this event, contact your season ticket rep with the Phantoms. Non-Phantoms visitors should probably contact the Phantoms–not the PPL Center–or the AHL to arrange for tickets. Symphony Hall tickets for this event are General Admission.]
All Star Challenge Monday 1/30/17, 7PM
This is the big round-robin 3-on-3 as they’ve been doing. I’ll be cheering for the Atlantic, of course, and perhaps we’ll take a look at rosters and triunes and goalies as we get closer.
[EDIT: For Phantoms STH:
All season ticket holders who purchased the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross package will receive:
- Commemorative 2017 All-Star Classic Pin
- 2017 All-Star Classic Souvenir Ticket
- Specialty 2017 All-Star Classic Lanyard
- Your gift can be picked up at the All-Star Headquarters by the main box office during upcoming games or during All-Star weekendIf you have any questions or would like to purchase your souvenir beer glass/drink tickets, please contact a Lehigh Valley Phantoms representative at 610-224-GOAL . Thanks again for your support and Go Phantoms!
There are full-event packages available now, as well as per-event tickets. I do expect the skills competition and the challenge to sell out, so I’d advise purchasing those tickets ahead of time as I said above. The PPL Center ticket site is not showing the exact seat availability as I write this, so I’m unsure of the availability–it is a clunky interface, too. I was able to score pretty good seats, though, just by plugging some stuff in for a pair of tickets “best available.” I’ll give you more information about our arena in a minute as well. If you’re not happy with your seats via the website, try calling the ticket center and pressing them for what you’re looking for: It can’t hurt to try. Also consider checking your favorite secondary markets like StubHub, TiqIQ or SeatGeek, and the like.
HERE’S A LINK where you can choose the tickets or packages available. If that doesn’t work, go to PPLCenter.com and click ALL EVENTS and scroll to the All Star Events. By phone: (484) 273-4490 Bringing a group of 10 or more? Try the group sales via phantomshockey.com, Tickets/All Star.
[UPDATE: Tickets will be self-printed from email delivery, or standard ticket stock from the box office. Special commemorative (non-working, no-bar code) tickets and lanyards will be provided to full package owners. Check at the arena to pick up lanyards/commemorative tickets, available starting now for Phantoms fans. See above.]
One final note: Because we’re a young fan-base, a lot of ticket packages have been snapped up by season ticket holders and local sponsors. However, all tickets may not be needed or in use; many of us bought them last April or so. This is why you may see tickets on the secondary market, and as well available from locals downtown. Ask around downtown if you like and scan the secondary markets if you need extras–especially folks wearing Phantoms gear.
PPL Center Arena
I wrote a whole Fan FAQ about the PPL Center a couple years ago, and while it needs another update, I have updated it a few times. Check it out if you like.
History: The PPL Center was built as the lynch-pin for the revitalization of downtown Allentown, a once-rich center of commerce with the likes of Hess’s flagship department store and the like. The downtown had fallen quite far into disarray in recent years. More about Allentown in a minute. When it was built, it was the most expensive minor league hockey arena in the world–probably still is. Certainly, it’s very nice. But the other reason is because it’s built on a sink hole! Cool, right? They used dozens to hundreds of concrete filled pilings drilled into bed-rock to make sure our arena doesn’t sink into the ground. That was expensive. Plus it makes your visit more exciting, huh? The PPL Center opened with the rock band Eagles in September, 2014. The Phantoms followed that fall after moving from Glens Falls, New York (Adirondack).
Seating: There are about 21 rows of seating on the main level, with row 21 sitting directly on the concourse in most cases. In the club sections (114-116, parts of 113 and 117) the seats are a bit larger and further apart and there are fewer rows–18 I think. In a couple areas, support structures make the seating numbers fluctuate in the last two rows. In the upper level, there are about 14 rows in each section. All seats are nicely padded as you might find in an older-style movie theater–but they are kinda close together if you’re a large person. The exceptions: High seats at the back of a couple sections 101 and 119 come to mind, auxiliary seating added for these events may be really small padded folding chairs, as well as seats on the upper concourse near the Miller Lite Loft and the bar tables in the loft itself may be of different types.
Concourse Map: (click for larger view)
Amenities and Features:
The concourse is 360 degrees, so you can walk around the entire area–just duck behind the club and walk next to Chickie’s and Pete’s. It’s an open concourse in most areas, so you can grab a view of the ice as well as the large video screens. ‘Phan Wi Fi’ is available and usually works quite well, although cell coverage is spotty with the metal roof and the nearby buildings–it’s better than it was when it first opened.
A new light show was installed this past off-season, which really adds to the pre-game atmosphere. Please note, though, that if you’re photosensitive in any way or prone to seizures, there is some strobe effect, and the photographer flashes mounted in the ceiling are somewhat annoying, too.
The sound system is still being tweaked; there are areas where the PA is unintelligible, and others where it may sound too loud.
Entrances and Security:
There are four main entrances, one at each corner. You can also enter via Tim Horton’s and Chickie’s and Pete’s. 99 Bottles connects with the LVHN gate. There are walk-through metal detectors at each entrance, and wand-ing to supplement. Additional security info and venue policies:
Cameras with detachable lenses are prohibited. No professional cameras, flash photography, video cameras or any other audio/visual equipment will be permitted.
As part of our safety policy, there is no re-entry into the PPL Center. If you enter the facility and then leave, you will need an unused ticket to enter the arena again.
There are no refunds for PPL Center events. All ticket sales are final.
The Smoking Area, located at the Northwest Gate, will open at the start of the game and will close at the start of the third period. Ticket required for re-entry.
The following items are prohibited during all PPL Center events to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests. Additional rules and regulations may be posted on PPL Center property or may be communicated through PPL Center staff. Guests are reminded to arrive early, as they may be subject to bag checks, a physical search and/or metal detection prior to entering the facility.
Prohibited items include but are not limited to:
• Alcoholic beverages, controlled or unlawful substances and controlled substance paraphernalia
• Weapons of any kind including but not limited to: firearms, knives, chains and spiked jewelry, pepper spray, or Mace
• Cans, bottles (glass or plastic) or coolers
• Outside food or beverages
• Professional cameras, audio or video recording devices, tripods, and drones
• Laser pointers and pens
• Noisemakers, such as airhorns, fireworks, Frisbees, balls and other projectiles
• Animals that are not ADA defined service animals
• Balloons or gifts of any kind
• Selfie sticks or telescopic devices
• Hoverboards, segways, skateboards, drones, model aircraft
• Glow sticks or flash bulbs
• Backpacks and any/all bags exceeding the maximum size limit of 12 in. x 6 in. x 12 in.
• Laptops, iPads, or tablets
• Wrapped gifts
• Any other item deemed unacceptable by the event or building management
*This list is subject to change on an event by event basis without notice by PPL Center Management.
There is the distinct lack of sufficient restroom facilities for males. Maybe females, too, but markedly for males. The Morning Call Club has it’s own facilities, as do the suites, but on the main concourse the busiest restrooms are those behind section 106 and in the “rotunda” roughly behind section 109. Navigate to those behind sections 102 and 119 for shorter lines–and consider a pro-active visit when lines are short.
The other challenge is the food. Yes, they have many choices, but the concessions are not managed by the team, but by arena management via Comcast/Spectacor’s catering arm, Spectra Food Services and Hospitality. I’m sorry to report that most choices are not very good. However, there are special choices within the club, and catering in the suites, which has received good marks from those I’ve talked with. Spectra runs the Chickie’s and Pete’s franchise and the 99 Bottles coal-fired pub and both are pretty good. As for the rest of it though, proceed with caution.
[EDIT: The Arena has promised some special (improved?) food items for All Star Weekend. It’s not clear if they will be available to all, or just for suites and clubs. ]
[EDIT: More Info On Special Food Items For This Event:
Concessions for the event include:
- Weyerbacher Jalapeno Beer Cheese Sausage
- Surf & Turf Burger (Grilled third-pound burger topped with American cheese, battered shrimp finish with Cajun aioli)
- Barbeque Nachos (served in a mason jar)
- All-Star Walking Taco (served in a Phantoms souvenir cup)
- Blue Line Special (Eight Oaks Vodka, lemonade, blue curacao – served in a mason jar)
Spectra’s Executive Chef Hall will also introduce a newly created All-Star menu exclusively for The Morning Call Club.
These All-Star dishes include:
- Ceviche Taco Trio (featuring steak, scallop, shrimp – topped with chipotle vinaigrette fresh pickled jalapenos, and avocado crème)
- Carved Pork Belly Bahn Mi (topped with pickled vegetable Korean Barbeque – served on French bread)
- Porcini and Truffle Ravioli (served with sautéed onion and mushroom medley and parmesan cream sauce)
- Rosemary Grilled New York Strip (served with fingerling roasted sweet potatoes, seasoned with ground chipotle, smoked sea salt and brown sugar, and butter blanched broccolini)
- Caramelized Onion and Pineapple Infused Pork Shoulder (topped with jalapeno cilantro barbecue sauce, crispy onions, and red cabbage slaw)
- Lobster Ravioli (served in sherry cream sauce blended spinach and fresh diced tomatoes)
- Artisan Dessert Display (featuring an assortment of Mini Chocolate Tortes, Cakes, Macaroons, and a variety of dessert shooters)
There are many beer choices about the concourse. The “bomber” 24-oz cans are the best value in my opinion, at $9 for domestic (Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light and Yuengling Lager plus Twisted Tea) and $11 for import (Heineken, Labatt’s, Molson Canadian). Drafts are available at the concessions ($8.50 domestic), and smaller aluminum bottles are about, as well ($6.50). There aren’t a ton of micro- and craft brews available, but there are some. Check the Bud Light stand near the Tim Horton’s entrance and the Coors Light bar near section 108 in particular, as well as the larger concession stands to see what they have on tap. I found an Amstel Light last night.
Wine and Liquor are available in the Club for those with tickets there. Others may get a glass of wine or a simple mixed drink in the Miller Lite Loft, but you’ll have to drink it while you’re up there. You can also duck into Chickie’s and grab a real drink there, they have an extensive bar–but they’ll only let you bring beer back into the arena, and only if it’s in a plastic cup. The staff there will accommodate you with a suitable cup, though.
If you’re in a suite, you’ll have whatever your suite-holder has ordered from catering, or you can head to the ‘Loft’ to get something yourself. During part of this weekend, it may not count as a “sporting event” in which case they’ll be able to set up make-shift bars around the concourse–so don’t be surprised if you see that during part of the events, such as the tailgate on Saturday. Remember, Pennsylvania liquor laws are archaic.
Special Areas, Clubs and Suites:
There are two rows of suites stacked above the club-side of the arena. These are by suite-holder tickets only, of course and access via elevators.
The Morning Call Club is walled-off and you need an appropriate ticket to enter there. They have special food choices and a full bar, as well as tables and a small souvenir shop and their own rest-rooms. The “Loge Boxes” are also in here–small luxury boxes at the rear of the sections, with private screens and catering and whatnot.
There’s a large Ice Suite below section 108-109 that you’ll probably see featured on the screen. There are also “bunker suites” located underneath the club sections, with small tunnel access to club seating which is included for them. They’re very nice with huge flat screens and a small game room. Congrats if you’ve scored tickets to any of the suites; they’re nice.
The Miller Lite Loft is one of my favorite places in the arena. It will probably be packed with GA folks for these events, but check it out if you like. There’s a bar up there, and pub tables usually. Plus a few flat screens some showing the game and others monitoring other sporting events. It’s open to everyone–unless they do something different all of a sudden–via the steps to sections 210-211. Just walk up the steps, and keep going up until you reach the upper concourse. They may have auxiliary seating or auxiliary press up there for this event as well. There’s also a secret entrance to the arena up there: If you’re staying at the Renaissance Hotel, or eating at the Dime restaurant or hanging at their bar, you can enter via the Miller Lite Loft. They have security there and a ticket taker and everything. Keep in mind, just like at the other entrances, no re-entry once you’re in and no restrooms up there; use the facilities in the hotel before you enter! They don’t usually allow entrance from the Renaissance lobby to the main concourse down below, though–although you can see it from there! Oh, you’ll also see hotel suites which overlook the arena at the Miller Lite Loft (East) end, as well. I don’t know much about them, but imagine they’ll be in use for this mega-event!
The good part of a downtown arena is that there are many routes for access and egress, and none are exactly right or wrong. There are a fair amount of one-way streets, usually alternating, so keep that in mind as you navigate the downtown. Also try to avoid driving directly THROUGH the arena district as those streets can become clogged, and local security will even shut them off before and after events to protect pedestrians.
Many folks will arrive in the Lehigh Valley via the Lehigh Valley Thruway, Route 22 East or West. This is our main East/West corridor and is vastly obsolete as far as size and structure. And it’s perpetually under construction. Use Google Maps traffic overlay or other traffic traffic monitoring such as Waze to make sure that it isn’t a parking lot, which would cost you hours on your commute.
Most GPS inputs should be fine; the 8th Street Bridge is now open in both directions. I guess the only other caveat here is that the new Parkway Bridge via the American Parkway is open, connecting Airport Road (and Rt22) with the downtown–it might not be included on older GPS units–check Google Maps on your phone. Oh, and key: Input the address of your pre-chosen parking facility or hotel, NOT the PPL Center. This will likely prevent you from counting on a wrong 1-way street or something.
One of the biggest challenges for a downtown arena is parking. Like the routes, however, it is multi-site and actually works quite well. I’ve written extensively about the parking, but I’ll include the Cliff’s Notes here:
First and foremost, know that the parking deck that is directly connected to the arena is not very large. It is available by pre-paid pass ONLY. I haven’t spotted a link for that for these events, and the hotel shares it–so probably not an option unless you’re staying at the Renaissance or already have a parking pass.
[EDIT: The Parking Authority has picked this weekend to update “databases” or something; they’ve notified us that their web site and some other services might be unavailable. As far as the Linden Deck connected with the arena, I did see passes available online, follow the links on the PPLCenter.com site. BEFORE Saturday, you can also purchase a pre-paid pass to the Community Deck at 6th/Walnut just South of Hamilton, from the Parking Authority. Go to the Authority site, event parking, and follow the links. Also, bring $6 with you as their credit card processing is sometimes spotty during these upgrades.]
There’s also a secret arena deck with access via 8th Street: Also, pass only–usually for players and arena dignitaries.
If you’re here reading this, then you’re planning ahead. Good. Now, using the map below, or via the parking authority (links to come) find the address of the parking facility near the arena which makes the most sense for your use. Take into account:
- How you will be arriving downtown
- The location of the entrance and exit of the facility
- Where you will be eating prior to the event
- How you will be leaving downtown–with respect to one-way streets and not trying to drive through the arena zone
Then figure out the address of said parking facility so that you can input it into your GPS. Easy Peasey. I’ll refrain from going through all of them here–you should be able to figure it out via the maps and links or by Google Maps.
Parking will likely cost you $6 on entry for each event–or you’ll take a ticket and pay as you exit, depending on when you arrive. Some difficulty with credit cards at some locations, be sure to have some cash along. Early access to lots requires payment at the kiosk. Some decks have automated card payment, others have an attendant. You’ll often get change in the form of $2 bills.
Downtown is always changing, so this lot information is never going to be up to date. Notes about the above map:
- The arena is located at the North/West corner of 7th/Hamilton
- The State Lot at Linden/6th is not available; construction
- There is an additional, large, lot just north of “Germania” along 7th Street. It’s excellent, with access from both 7th Street (one-way southbound) as well as Walnut (one-way eastbound).
- There’s a Government Deck just West of the Community Deck on Walnut. It’s not available at all during business hours, but they sometimes open it for events later in the evenings. Watch for signs or don’t attempt to enter as it’s key-card only during business hours.
- Throw Google Maps up to show which of those streets are one way; that’s a big deal.
Here are some links which may help you:
[Edit: some may not work during upgrade process this weekend.]
- Allentown Parking Authority
- AllentownEventParking.com –When active, provides real-time information about lot and deck availability, as well as the street addresses
- Pre-Purchase Parking from the Authority (This decreases your flexibility, but assures you a spot–just good luck finding it. As of this writing nothing for these events yet–but may update closer to the dates.)
- Follow the Parking Authority on Twitter: They’ve been very good historically about updating parking status and facility capacity in real time on event days. @ATownParking
More About Downtown Allentown
As I mentioned, there is revitalization afoot. But, it’s a process. So expect to see plenty of construction. Also, some pretty run down places as many properties may be worth more for their real estate than their building.
Still, there are plenty of cool restaurants (below) and some shops and stuff popping up. There’s an “Arts Walk.” Downtown Allentown is not a finished product, but a work in progress. Most areas within a few blocks of the arena are well-lit, and local law-enforcement is usually pretty ubiquitous around event times.
Should you stay out too, too, late and walk around by yourself and you might run into a dude asking for $.50 for the bus. Or, worse. Don’t stop and talk to that dude; the bus costs more than 50 cents.
Where to Stay
This new and beautiful hotel is connected directly to the arena, along with it’s restaurant and bar, The Dime. The entrance is just to the right of the main arena entrance at 7th/Hamilton within the historic Dime Bank Building which was salvaged when the arena was built. It’s already sold out, of course, with all the teams and dignitaries and such, but if for some reason you get the opportunity to stay here, take it. It’s the ultimate choice based on proximity and quality.
Holiday Inn Allentown Center City
Two or three blocks down the street, I believe this used to be a Hilton years ago, and it was quite nice at the time. I’m unsure, now, but it seems like a reasonable plan if it’s still available. You could park once (they’ll probably make you pay, but it’s also probably worth it) and walk to just about everything you need without worrying about event parking or traffic. If we have snow, you’ll be golden.
Others That Pop Up Downtown
The Americus is a historical hotel on Sixth/Hamilton downtown which is being restored, currently, and I don’t think they’re quite open yet. Some of the other stuff that pops up near downtown looks really shaky to me–I didn’t even know some of them were there, and I live here. I’m not looking to bad-mouth anyone–just recommending you use caution.
Ramada Inn Whitehall/Allentown
Just North on Seventh Street, which becomes MacArthur Road as you enter Whitehall north of the city, you’ll find this choice. The drive should be rather short, but you might have some traffic and lights on Seventh. They have a lounge which often has entertainment. You’ll need 6th or 8th Street to return North after the events, probably.
Airport Road Choices
There are a plethora of choices and retail and restaurants and hotels located on Airport Road, South of Rt22: Courtyard, Residence, Fairfield, Red Roof, Hilton, Staybridge to name a few. Pick the one you’re most comfortable with and you’ll be able to get downtown via Airport Road to American Parkway and over the new bridge into downtown. Use Linden Street towards the arena and parking.
If you’re flying in, you may prefer to stay at the Jetport right across from the Airport.
If you like the idea of staying downtown, but Allentown isn’t your town, then consider the historic Hotel Bethlehem on gorgeous Main Street in downtown Bethlehem. Bethlehem is MUCH more of a finished product than Allentown is. The holidays are over, but there are many shops and restaurants there that you can explore as well–but you’ll have to drive, then, to get to the Arena District in Allentown. But you can do it: Broad Street to Hanover to Linden.
West of the City
There are a couple Holiday Inns west of the city, as well as some other newer hotels like Comfort Suites, which might make fine choices and leave you close to highways for access and egress of the Lehigh Valley before and after the weekend, respectively.
Where To Eat and Hang Out
Because we’re in the downtown, there’s not a lot of opportunity for true tailgating. Indeed, I believe it might be forbidden. However, there’s a lot of places to visit. Let me start West of the Arena and work my way East, mostly along Hamilton or within one block on the cross-street. I’ll miss some, which may be fine, but these are all “Kram Approved” or at least look good enough that I’ll eventually get in there–I’ll let you look up their websites, menus and locations yourself–and some places may be closed on Sunday but check, because they may open specially for this weekend:
G&E Smoke Shop / Brick and Barrel Lounge I haven’t been yet, but could be a nice place to buy a stick or sit and enjoy a smoke. Not a restaurant or bar, though, might need to BYOB. Near 10th/Hamilton, three blocks from arena.
Bay Leaf Top-notch asian/american fusion. Been there forever. Reservations recommended. They won’t kick you out for wearing a hockey jersey. Open for lunch, but closed on Sunday.
Billy’s Downtown Diner *Breakfast and Lunch only*. Extravagant takes on diner food.
Sugar Hill Jazz Club Food is BBQ–and really good although portions are small; bar is small. Brand new place. Music for grown ups. Sunday Brunch?
Venny’s Pizza Looks like a great place to grab a slice along Hamilton
Wok Box Looks like a great place to grab Chinese takeout along Hamilton
Philly Pretzel Factory We’re big fans. Excellent Philly Pretzels along with pretzel-sandwiches for a quick bite on the go or to soak up your drinks.
Allentown BrewWorks Brew pub with several levels and bars. Pretty decent menu; great for families. Other beers and drinks as well. Usually pretty good service. I’m a big fan.
Vince’s Steaks The Lehigh Valley answer to Philly Cheesesteaks. Top notch steak joint.
ROAR (Hush) A nicer restaurant, notable for the presence of poutine on the menu. Some craft beers, and a decent wine list. Specializing in cocktails. Hush is the speakeasy in the back. You might have to look it up online to find the password. A nice quiet place to enjoy a custom-crafted cocktail. Hockey fans welcome, right across from the arena. [UPDATE: Special hours Sunday and Monday to accommodate All Star fans.]
99 Bottles Coal-fired oven and craft brews. Whiskeys. Pretty decent entry run by arena catering. Quick access to area without going back outside.
Chickies and Pete’s Full size sports bar and crab house; arena owns the franchise. Service can be spotty when they’re really busy and you can plan on them being pretty packed this whole weekend. Still, a decent place to grab some clams and a beer and catch whatever sporting event you want to see on some big screens. Gets really really packed before games and immediately after. Sound stage for pre- and post-game TV broadcasts. My kids’ favorite.
Tim Horton’s Canada’s answer to Dunkin. Coffee, Hot Chocolate, muffins, soups and other good stuff. Gets top marks from my kids.
The Dime High end restaurant and bar connected with Renaissance Hotel. Access via the hotel lobby entrance and take elevator to the third floor. Make a right and greet the hostess. Bar is to your left, with nice views of center square. Hockey fans welcome. One of my favorite places to grab a drink post-game; I sneak in via the Miller Lite Loft entrance/exit. Often live music on weekends in the bar. Excellent bartenders/mixologists. Best wine list downtown.
The Hamilton Kitchen Just across the street from the main arena entrance–a high-end take on comfort food. Always had good quality and service. Cheese curds are a highlight. Large bar with huge whiskey list–the most impressive in the region. Wine list is very good. Heated patio sometimes. Sunday Brunch?
Queen City BBQ BBQ joint started by the “Bayou Boys” who also own grain. They love hockey fans, but have tried to limit event seating to reservation only–so call ahead. I’m a BBQ snob and I haven’t been yet.
Johnny’s Bagels Diagonal across the square from the arena’s main entrance. Great to grab a bite for breakfast or a soup/sandwich mid-day.
Starbucks Near The Hamilton.
Bell Hall Among the favorites of most hockey fans. Craft brews and hand-crafted burgers. Many other items on menu. They have had some service hiccups, but one of my favorites. Best place for beer choices. May be closed on Sunday?
Hook Seafood fine dining near Symphony Hall, just down the Arts Walk from the Arena. Hockey fans welcome, and happy hour specials at the bar have been good and cheap in the past. Closed Sunday and Monday I think-but could open specially. Call ahead.
grain. (Cork and Cage) Eclectic menu with nothing over $20 last I checked. Two levels; cool bar on the first. Some craft beers and some wines. Excellent service. Cork and Cage is an affiliated bottle shop next door where you can find any sort of beer you’re looking for–take it back to your hotel or enjoy right there.
CENTRO Fine Italian–I haven’t been yet but gets top marks from some of my friends.
What Else Is There To Do In The Lehigh Valley?
Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum – Walnut Street
DaVinci Science Center (Kids)
Bear Creek (Skiing)
Bloggers: While the Phantoms might be the “host team” and the PPL Center the “host arena” and our local media the “host media” I consider myself the “host fan blogger.” Any other team bloggers in attendance let me know if you need anything. Contact me via email: KramOf209(at)gmail.com or in real time, via Twitter @Kram209 and via DM if you like.
Now, my media privileges are limited–and certainly things are tight for this event so I can’t really help you there. But there might be other things. Whatever. Let me know. Oh, and while I post under the moniker “Kram” my real name is kram backwards: Mark.
Fan Clubs and Boosters: While still a young fan base, we do have a very active and enthusiastic fan club–or “Phan Club” in these parts. You can visit their website at PhanNation.Org and find them on twitter @PhanNation. Visiting clubs or officers may want to touch base with them and I’ll try to put it out there if I hear of any meet ups or impromptu gatherings. They’re good folks; don’t be shy. All fans should feel free to interact with phan club members downtown if you have any questions or need assistance in any way. Look for this logo on shirts or pins for phan nation members:
Note to the Phan Club: We should wear our shirts and pins so that folks might identify us as host fans if they have any questions or problems.
Real Time Assistance
I’ll be downtown the entire weekend for all of the events. Between events, you’ll likely find me at one of the restaurants or bars. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I likely know someone who does.
As far as currency, I trade in beverages. If you feel like I’ve mislead you in any way, I’ll buy you one. If you feel like this resource has been invaluable, I’ll “let” you buy me one. Or if you just want to come by and say “hey” then that’s fine as well.
Here’s how to get in touch during and between the events or as needed:
Twitter (best): @Kram209
Facebook (worst): Kram Twoohnine
I’m picturing this post will be shared a few times through social media, and that’s great. I don’t get paid by the click or anything, but I’m asking for folks to use the message board below to add information, ask questions and the like. If you use FB or Twitter, others might not get to see the question and the response. Moderation is liberal–only in effect to deter spammers and bots; all will get approved quickly. Thanks.
Welcome to Allentown and the Lehigh Valley, and I’ll
See you at the arena,