In a growing effort to re-visit stadiums that have non-digital pictures in the old film form, I made the three-hour drive to Elmira last night for a Jackals game at First Arena. It drives me nuts just to have a few old pictures of poor clarity at the first 20 or so facilities I visited, so in spite of the short trip (6 hours in the car, just over 3 in Elmira), the itch to update the old “Coach USA Center” pictures was one that needed to be scratched and off I went after work. Elmira is a small city in the Southern Tier of New York that fits the mold of a place that has parts of it stuck in the 1970s. It is one of the homes to Mark Twain and coming down Church Street, the city does a nice job in displaying attractions via signs, for those that are intrigued with the first World’s Most Interesting Man.
This game was just an in/out job for me, so I got downtown around 6 PM and was quite thankful that I got exterior photos on the way to a trip back in November. The cold drizzle this Friday Night would have meant some bad pictures. Inside, the Splitrock Brew Pub is a great little place to start the evening as many fans had dinner there first and enjoyed some solo guitar by a guy who looked a little like Charlie Daniels. I got there too late for dinner thanks to wasting time before a lost ipod mishap before leaving, opting instead to take all my pictures and then grab a sloppily made roast beef sandwich, the only ‘unique’ item in an otherwise blah assortment of concessions. The concourse is what you would expect for a 3784-seat arena and it goes around 3/4ths of the arena. Inside, is an intimate facility that is decked out in light purple (seats, piping, etc.). I don’t mind and actually like the change-up in color scheme, but it does look odd now that the team colors are red and blue.
Elmira joined the ECHL in 2007 after the UHL folded and each season has posted a winning record. Though they have failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs. This year is their first near the league’s basement and the team came in on an 11-game losing streak. That may have dampened the crowd as only about 1500-2000 were there for the second to last home game of the year. Similar to what I experienced in Binghamton a few years back, the atmosphere was significantly less enthusiastic than my first visit and while there appears to be a nice little dedicated fanbase (lots of Jackal jerseys in the crowd), First Arena lacked any juice. This was especially evident when the crowd failed to acknowledge any portion of a game that Elmira dominated to break their near month-long losing streak. I certainly understand a lack of atmosphere for a losing team at the end of a season, but a hockey-savvy crowd would provide more than just after goal cheers when that team jumps out to a 4-0 lead. Elmira certainly gave it to Orlando and while Maxime Clermont was more than a little shaky in net, the Jackals did well to bury their last couple chances. The Solar Bears were sleepwalking through this game until the 3rd period when it was too late. Kudos to Elmira for getting the win and that means a perfect 4-0 for the home teams I have seen so far this year. It was great to be back at First Arena, which is a nice facility and a great representation of hockey in a small city. The review on the right will be updated soon and also check out the review up at Stadium Journey, where they just made a visit a few weeks ago.