Cadet Ice Arena – Air Force Falcons

by | Jan 18, 2018 | Hockey, Matt Finnigan, NCAA Hockey |

Fanfare Score

Total Score

Crowd Score

Total Score





Falcons Nest

Government buildings have earned the reputation of being cold, dull, and utilitarian.  From afar, the United States Air Force Academy’s Cadet Ice Arena might seem to hold to that stereotype.  Yet any such austerity camouflages an enjoyable college hockey venue that puts fans incredibly close to the action.

Cadet Ice Arena (“CIA”) debuted before the 1968-69 season and is part of the Academy’s Cadet Field House, which also houses the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in Clune Arena, along with a team shop, concessions, and several other teams’ practice facilities and offices.  Although this 2,470-seat arena is nearing its 50th birthday, it has aged well.  

Concourses are wide, the CIA is clean, and it provides a first-rate setting to enjoy college hockey.  The Falcons’ quality of play on the ice and the overall beauty of the Air Force Academy, further enhance the experience.  But the true strength of the CIA is the proximity of seating to the ice.  No seat is more than 15 rows from the ice, and most spectator seating has been placed along the sides.  With free parking and reasonable food and beverage prices, the Air Force Academy hockey experience is also a great venue.

Food & Beverage 3

Cadet Ice Arena has all of the sporting event greats at reasonable prices.  Numerous options are available, with quick and friendly service.  Credit cards are accepted at all concession stands.

Hot dogs ($4), hamburgers ($6.50), and chicken tenders ($6.50) are all available, as one might expect.  But there are also some gems: a grilled herb chicken sandwich ($6.50) is quite tasty, and gyros are likewise available for those seeking something different ($7).  Dickey’s BBQ has a stand where fans can choose from barbecue pork or brisket sandwiches ($7.50).

Pepsi products are offered, both from the fountain and in bottles.  There is no beer or alcohol service.

Perhaps the best and most unexpected find is actual ice cream.  Although the arena is cold like most hockey venues, fans do not have to settle for soft-serve.  Real ice cream is available just outside the team store.

Atmosphere 4

The Falcons sold out their season tickets for the 2017-18 season.  And over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Air Force was one of three schools (along with Michigan and Notre Dame) to average a sellout over the course of the regular season and playoffs.  The team’s strong play has produced a home crowd that is engaged and intelligent.  Additionally, cadets in fatigues root on the Falcons, providing a reminder that the Air Force Academy is training students to become military and business leaders.

Fans enter CIA on the main concourse, in between Clune Arena (to the left) and the CIA (to the right).  Most of the CIA’s seats are along the sides, with luxury seating behind each goal.  The luxury areas have individual “suites,” with tables and seats in individually partitioned boxes  The arena has both seatbacks and bleachers.  

The farthest seats from the ice are 15 rows away, behind the team benches.  Only 10 rows separate fans from the ice on the side opposite the benches.  So proximity is a real asset at CIA.

Scoreboards have been placed above center ice and at each end zone.  The scoreboard on the north end has a video display, as well.  

The Falcon mascot skates with the team during pre-game activities and at the start of each period.  Cheerleaders urge on the team from the stands during play.  The PA system is used for all music, entertainment, and in-game promotions.  

It may be impossible to find a bad seat anywhere in Cadet Ice Arena.  Seats are close to the ice and there are no obstructions.  Seats on either side of the arena provide great views of the action.

Neighborhood 3

The United States Air Force Academy is located 55 miles south of Denver and eight miles north of Colorado Springs, against the Rocky Mountains.  The campus itself totals 18,500 acres, so there is not a “neighborhood” in which the CIA sits.  Rather, it is placed squarely in the middle of one of the United States’ most beautiful college campuses.

Dining choices are limited on the grounds of the Air Force Academy, so a trip in the car offers the best options.  Downtown Colorado Springs, approximately eight miles south of the CIA, offers several very good dining options.  The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, and MacKenzie’s Chop House are popular, well-established spots downtown.

The Air Force Academy is, itself, a tremendous attraction.  The campus is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.  The Academy’s most iconic building is Cadet Chapel, which has 17 spires and houses services for religions of all faiths.  The chapel can be seen from I-25, several miles away, but it is worthy of a visit to enjoy a closer look at its architectural features.  Additionally, the Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center contains exhibits, a theater, and gift shop for those wanting to learn more about the Academy’s history.  Hiking trails are available for those looking to see a different side of the Air Force Academy.  Four trails totaling more than 50 miles are open for members of the public.

Colorado Springs also offers a wide array of attractions.  Weather permitting, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway travels from the mountain’s base to the 14,115-foot summit.  The United States Olympic Committee is based in Colorado Springs; its training center is open to the public and  a new museum, dedicated to the United States’ success in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, is scheduled to open in 2019.

The closest lodging to the Air Force Academy is located approximately seven miles away, off of Interstate 25 on Interquest Parkway.  Several new hotels have opened recently, including a Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, and Drury Inn.

Fans 4

Although the building itself is not huge, the Cadet Ice Arena boasts a passionate and engaged crowd.  The Cadets and locals alike root on the Falcons with a strong collective understanding of the sport of hockey.  

The Falcons typically average a full house, with standing room attendees pushing the average home attendance above capacity in 2014-15 and 2016-17.  The filled stands host a boisterous crowd that enhance the experience at Cadet Ice Arena.  The best games to attend are against local rivals University of Denver and Colorado College, or against Air Force’s service academy rival, Army.

The fans at CIA bring a loud, informed voice.  The concession stands tend to idle during play, with fans rushing for food and beverage at breaks in play or between periods.  But the end of each period provides a moment when fans should remain in the stands, as the Falcons leave the ice while the crowd sings along to “The U.S. Air Force,” a fight song that some may know as “Wild Blue Yonder.”  

Access 4

Civilians must present government-issued identification at the Air Force Academy’s north gate to enter the grounds.  But the Cadets working that gate are friendly, helpful, and move traffic quickly.  Once close to the arena, cadets guide fans into the parking lots next to the CIA.

Because of the CIA’s location on the Academy grounds, there are no mass transit options.  Fans must drive to reach the arena.  Colorado Springs International Airport is approximately 25 miles southeast of the Air Force Academy, with non-stop flights from 19 cities across the United States.

Parking is free for Air Force hockey games.  Two lots adjoin the CIA, with a a very short walk from either up to the arena’s entrance.

Fans enter the CIA through one gate, on the building’s south side.  The ticket windows are located inside, with lines moving quickly.  Fans must pass through metal detectors but staff makes the process quick and easy.

The main concourse is wide, as it is seemingly designed to accommodate fans if both the Falcons’ hockey team and one of its basketball teams are playing simultaneously.  Concession lines do not impede movement, as they have been smartly located along the concourse’s sides.  Restrooms do not have lines; they are quite clean, in the true spirit of military attention to detail.  There is plenty of room to move around the arena’s concourses so those needing wheelchair access should be able to attend and enjoy games easily.

Return on Investment 4

Free parking, and reasonable ticket and concession prices, make Air Force hockey a true deal.  

Reserved seats are either $22 or $25, a fraction of what an NHL game typically costs.  While the level of play may not be comparable, the enthusiasm and energy at CIA render the ticket prices a relative bargain.  And although there is no mass transit available, free parking serves as an offset.  A family of four can attend a game for $100 or less, giving Air Force Hockey a nice return on investment.

Extras 2

The Air Force Academy is one of the nation’s top aerospace engineering colleges.  The CIA, with that in mind, has placed replicas of satellites at each end of the building.  These were presented to the hockey team by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at a “Space Night” in 2011, and remind fans of the Academy’s link to aerospace engineering.  The views of the Rocky Mountains from the entrance to the CIA, moreover, is worth noting.  Fans can see Cadet Chapel and Pikes Peak when looking to the south.

Final Thoughts

Seeing an Air Force Academy hockey game at Cadet Ice Arena is a unique experience that blends the school’s great traditions and high level of collegiate hockey with natural beauty that sets the Academy apart from other schools.  Beyond the ice, the Academy itself merits a visit to see one of the United States’ great campuses.


Did you enjoy this content? Help support our work by becoming a supporter of Stadium Journey on Patreon. Supporter levels begin at just $2/month.




Food and Drink Recommendations

Colorado Mountain Brewery  

11202 Rampart Hills View

Colorado Springs, CO 80921

(719) 434-5750

HIgh Country Inn

5218 Cedar Dr

U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840

(719) 472-8335

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!



Entertainment Recommendations

US Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center  

2346 Academy Dr # 102

Colorado Springs, CO 80840

(719) 333-2025

Air Force Chapel  

U.S. Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, CO 80840

(719) 333-1110

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!



Lodging Recommendations


Fairfield Inn & Suites Colorado Springs North/Air Force Academy  

15275 Struthers Rd

Colorado Springs, CO 80921

(719) 488-4644


Drury Inn & Suites Colorado Springs

1170 Interquest Hwy

Colorado Springs, CO 80921

(719) 598-2500

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!

Crowd Reviews

Latest Crowd Reviews

Date: 2018-01-18 14:33:51
By: Legacy Review

Total Score

Cadet Field House, built in 1968, includes three distinct athletic facilities: an indoor track, a basketball court, and the Cadet Ice Arena where the Air Force Falcons (Men’s Hockey Team) play. It is an intimate setting with only 13 rows on two sides and seating only 2,470 spectators. New for the 2011 season, is one row of luxury seats up behind each goal crease on the concourse. The Air Force Falcons are part of the Atlantic Hockey Association – an NCAA Division 1 league.

Share This