Allen County War Memorial Coliseum – Fort Wayne Komets
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Hockey City, Hoosier State
The Ft. Wayne Komets are the second oldest minor league hockey operation in the country, after the Hershey Bears. The team was founded in 1952 and have called the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum its home for over 65 years; not too many other hockey teams can say that.
Through much of that history the team had been members of the International Hockey League, before bouncing around numerous leagues after the 1998/99 season and finally settling in the ECHL in 2012. Despite the different leagues, the Komets have been constant playoff contenders capturing nine championships, including four cups in five seasons between 2008-2012.
In 2002, the coliseum underwent a much needed renovation that raised the 1,200 ton roof 41 feet and 10 inches to modernized the building and create greater accessibility for guests with disabilities. The final cost of the project was $34.5 million and increased capacity size from 10,500 to 13,000.
In 2013, a $3.96 million renovation modernized all the restrooms on the 200 level and added two large food courts and retail space. These renovations have been beneficial to the facility in attracting concerts and other events, but it has not taken away from its charm of the old-school building.
Food & Beverage 4
There have been major improvements with the food since our last visit. There are two food court areas in the 200 level where fans can feast on pizza slices from Slice’d, take-out style Asian cuisine from Wok this Wayne, grilled burgers from Appleseed Burger Company, and jumbo dogs from Dog House Cart.
Pizza slices sell for $5.50 or a whole pie for $28, plus tempting steak hoagies and submarinos for $7.75, and fried raviolis for $6. It should be mentioned that the slices are well portioned and fresh from the oven.
Teriyaki bowls cost $7.50 for a regular and $9.50 for a large order. Patrons can pick their protein, vegetables, toppings, and sauces and watch while they are created right in front of them. Other take-out options include sesame beef, General Tso chicken, and vegetable lo mein for around $6.50 a dish.
If there couldn’t be more at the arena, Banditos whips up burriitos for $7.25 and nachos for $5.75 right in front of you along with one of the best deals in the building-two hard or soft tacos for $4. Also, BBQ 58 serves mouth-watering items such as pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket nachos for $8 and Piggy Back Tina Tots that are covered with jalapeno, cheese, sour cream, barbecue sauce and scallions for $7.50.
Fans make their way into the arena from the main lobby and up the escalators towards the main concourse. Many are dressed in the colors of black and orange and sport a jersey of some era of the team’s history. The concourses have display photographs of past legends who suited up for the team and broadcaster Bob Chase who covered the team from 1953 until his passing in 2017.
There are some great local area institutions both old and new that should be previewed when in town. First, Coney Island Ft. Wayne has been serving its unique chili and Coca-Cola from 8 ounce bottles for over 100 years. The interior has not changed that much since its opening in 1914 and the place is quite popular among the populace. Coneys are $1.50 and it now takes credit cards.
Powers Burgers is the way hamburgers should be served and its decor has not changed at all in over 82 years it’s been in business. Their sliders come with grilled onions and cost under a $1.00 per burger. The small location only takes cash.
A few new places that are vastly becoming popular are The Yummi Bunni and Junk Ditch Brewing Company. The Yummi Bunni serves homemade ice cream between two glazed donuts and the lines have been long since the place opened in November 2016. Junk Ditch Brewing Company opened in town 2015 and has a very impressive menu lineup along with its craft beer.
The Komets have lead the ECHL attendance ever since joining the league for the 2012/2013 season and at one time were the number two attendant team in all of minor league hockey. This 2016/2017 season the club averaged 7,568 people per game which would rank them #8 in all of minor league hockey. While the rest of the country is catching up to minor league hockey, it’s been king in Ft. Wayne since 1952.
The coliseum has gone through a couple of renovations this century that has modernized the building for greater access for all patrons. Areas are well marked and escalators and elevators are available to transport fans to multiple areas. There is parking for 5,000 cars and it’s only a 1.5 half mile drive from the I-69 exit or a 4 mile drive to downtown Ft. Wayne.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets prices start at $12 for the 600 level, economical for the conscious traveler. If you are looking for watching the game with a rowdier, more cutthroat type of fan-not to say that they don’t exist in the 600 level-purchase a $28 ticket for the lower bowl. Here, the fans yell at the goalie and chant various pleasantries to the opposing team.
Parking is $5 a car, aligned with other ECHL venues and menu options are reasonable and plentiful. However, for a historic venue that has housed the same team since 1952, it would benefit with a lot more photos, trophies, awards, and throwback jerseys throughout some of the dead space in the upper part of the building.
Did you ever wonder why the team spells its name with a K? When original owner Ernie Berg decided upon a nickname for his new hockey team, he wanted a name that suggested speed, flash and excitement. He spelled it with a “K” instead of a “C” after his wife Kathryn who went by Kay.
The Rooftop Lounge offers full menu options, plus an outdoor seating where smoking cigarettes is allowed. Domestic drafts sell for $7.50, Pepsi products between $3 and $4.25, and craft beers can be found at Hoosier Beers stands throughout the building.
The two new food courts are both spacious, creative, and bright for an older facility that features tight concourses in certain areas. The prices are reasonable, and the selections are varied in these two hot spots on the 200 level.
Ft. Wayne should be considered Hockey City, Indiana, since the popularity of the sport wanes almost everywhere else in the state. Yes, there are minor league clubs in both Indianapolis and Evansville, but here minor league hockey is king in the Hoosier State.
There has been a fantastic job renovating the older facility and creating a place that is warm and inviting for today’s 21st century crowd. The oldest professional hockey team that has played in the same building since its existence is worth a visit sometime during the hockey season.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Holiday Inn Ft. Wayne-IPFW & Coliseum
4111 Paul Shaffer Dr
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Ramada Plaza Fort Wayne Hotel & Conference Center
305 E Washington Center Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
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