Sunday, 17 March 2013

Steelers extinguish the Blaze

A different format regarding the blog report today as it was done for the American website Stadium Journey.

COVENTRY BLAZE 3-8 SHEFFIELD STEELERS
Saturday 16th March 2013
Elite League


Coventry SkyDome Arena
Croft Road
Coventry
CV1 3AZ

Tel: 02476 630693 (box office)
Capacity: 2,600 (2,100 seats)
Official website: Coventry Blaze

ABOUT

The SkyDome Arena was built in 1999 as part of the SkyDome multiplex. This also included an Odeon cinema, Wetherspoons pub (The Spon Gate) and Harvester restaurant.  The complex also includes a bar, Crosbys which is at the end of the ice rink. The rink itself is also used for public skating sessions, concerts and various other events.

The Blaze compete in the UK’s top hockey competition, the Elite League, and have been doing so since 2003. The team were originally from nearby Solihull and evolved from the Solihull Barons, which in turn became the Solihull Blaze. In 2000 the team moved to Coventry at the newly opened SkyDome arena to attract a new and larger fanbase. Since moving to Coventry the team have won the following honours:

British League champions: 2002/03
Elite League champions: 2004/05; 2006/07; 2007/08; 2009/10
Elite League play-off winners:  2004/05
Elite League Challenge Cup winners: 2004/05; 2006/07
Elite League British KO Cup winners: 2007/08
Elite League Charity Shield winners: 2008/09

At the time of writing the team sit in fourth place in the Elite League and have already qualified for the post-season play-offs.

FOOD & BEVERAGE (4* out of 5)

The standard fare that you generally see across the country at sports venues also applies here. The difference being is that you don’t feel like you are getting ripped off with the prices more affordable.
Inside the arena the choice is limited to hot dogs and burgers (starting from £3), pies and pasties (£2), sausage rolls (£1.20) and nachos (£2.70), snacks and chocolate bars also available from either the food kiosks or vending machines.  It should be said that this is ample enough in relation to the capacity of the venue.

If you have time before the game then the previously mentioned Harvester and Wetherspoon outlets serve standard pub / grill food.

Alcohol wise a pint of draught beer at Crosby’s bar will cost £3, which unlike the football stadiums in the UK you can drink while watching the action on the rink. Soft drinks are £1.80, Tea and coffee £1.50 and bottles of water cost £1.20. For anyone that likes a decent pint of beer the adjacent Spon Gate had a decent selection of ales on tap.

ATMOSPHERE (2*)

The SkyDome is a u-shaped arena with all the seats being elevated and standing at ground floor level. There was not a bad seat in the house and with only having a capacity of just over 2,000 you are not that far away from the action on the rink.

The rating probably wasn’t helped that it was an end of season game and that Coventry were not at the races for the most part during the game. For the first two periods it (the atmosphere) was subdued) and it only came to life during the third period when the Coventry team showed some fight on the rink. I am sure this would be higher if the game had some significant importance and (deliberate pun intended) the Blaze were on fire on the ice.

NEIGHBOURHOOD (3*)

Without meaning any disrespect to Coventry, it is a city that does not immediately spring to mind when thinking of somewhere to visit. It does though have some attractions for visitors which include the cathedral, Transport Museum and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. The city is also close and convenient for visiting the nearby towns of Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

With the city being one of the largest in the UK (population around 320,000) it is home to all the usual high street chain stores and plenty of restaurants catering for all tastes, requirements and budgets.

More information on Coventry and Warwickshire can be found by clicking on the following link: info

For sports fans the city has plenty of other options which include: football (Coventry City FC), rugby union (Coventry RFC), rugby league (Coventry Bears), speedway (Coventry Bees), American Football (Coventry Jets) and greyhound racing.

FANS (3*)

Firstly the Coventry supporters know their hockey, and like all sports fans cheer and criticise their team accordingly. Also during the game I attended the officials got some stick as well. Whereas football / soccer has a generally male orientated supporter, there was more of a mix at the Blaze. I did notice a lot of Blaze replica jerseys were being worn buy the supporters, along with the odd NHL jersey from teams such as the Boston Bruins.

Opposition supporters had their own section behind the goal on the right hand side, though despite being segregated there was no barriers and security in place and there was no hostility being the two sets of supporters before, during and after the game.

ACCESS (4*)

The Arena is located in the centre of Coventry and is easily accessible whether by using public transport or by driving. The railway station is located 0.6 miles away to the south and according to Google maps should take twelve minutes to walk. For those who are coming by car take junction 7 of the inner ring road and there are a couple of car parks (one of Moat Street and a multi-storey on Croft Road) which are adjacent to the Arena. The multi-storey one is operated by RCP and has 800 spaces which costs 60p (US 90c) per hour.

Coming from Leicester which is some twenty five miles to the north east of Coventry we had no problems getting to and leaving from the arena.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT (4*)

Adult tickets cost £16 (US$24) + a 10% fee if booking in advance, with concession and family deals also available. An example being a family ticket of two adults and two children (under-16) is £41 (US$61). I am unsure what to think if the pricing represents value for money or not, but Coventry does seem to be the norm regarding adult ticket prices, with Nottingham charging the same, Cardiff £17 and Sheffield £15. For the level below this in the English Premier League I paid £12.50 at the Swindon Wildcats.
match day magazine cover

EXTRAS (3*)

Firstly the club issue a monthly match day magazine which is onsale at rink side for £3, though in my opinion is overpriced. Secondly the Blaze have official merchandise for sale inside Crosbys which include caps (£10), jerseys and pucks (£3.50). This runs alongside an online store at their official website.

The club also give the supporters a chance to win various prizes in a couple of ways. Firstly in the form of raffle tickets (cash and a players jersey), and secondly the chance to win match tickets and another cash prize, this time by throwing a rubber duck onto the ice which will hopefully land inside one of three small inflatable kids pools.
  
FINAL THOUGHTS

With being new to the sport I am enjoying it, though with not having a team or rink where I live I suppose I will never be a passionate one club supporter. With that in mind I will hopefully watch a few more games next season, whether it be again at Coventry or other nearby rinks at Nottingham or Peterborough.

THE GAME ITSELF

Sheffield took control right from the start and were four nil up at the end of the first period, with the goals coming from Ashley Tait (1:27); Jonathan Phillips (2:01); Jeff Legue (7:14) and Danny Meyers (16:50). This was despite having four players in the sin bin during this time, and the home side unable to take advantage of the power plays.

The second half was more sedate in terms of game action with only one goal. James Jorgensen scoring on 16:27 to give Sheffield a 5-0 lead.

The third period was the most entertaining of the three with finally, Coventry showing some fight and passion and scoring three times through Josh Bruce (3:05); James Griffin (8:23) and Derek Campbell (10:53). Unfortunately they also conceded three as the visitors comfortably ran out 8-3 victors. The Sheffield goals in the third period came from Steven Goertzen (3:49); Jeff Legue (13:52) and Jonathan Phillips (18:36). With 16:37 on the clock the Blaze fans got a bit excited when Derek Campbell lost it and was sin binned for two offences of roughing-minor which was for throwing punches.  A couple of minutes later and Benn Olson was also binned for two offences of roughing-minor and the Blaze played out the final stages with only four men on the ice.

All the match stats can be found on the Elite League website by clicking here.

18 photos of the arena taken inside and out and be viewed in the slideshow below:
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