Fox Valley Ice Arena – Chicago Steel

by | Nov 6, 2018 | Hockey, Marc Viquez, USHL Hockey |

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A Taste of the Juniors in Chicago

Chicago enjoys its hockey from the NHL Blackhawks to the AHL Wolves, both teams are among the leaders in their respective leagues and in the 2017-2018 season attracted 1,190,540 fans to their arenas, satisfying the populace appetite for hockey. However, tucked away in the western suburbs of Chicagoland is the Chicago Steel who are also looking to filter some of that desire to its home rink.

The Steel, a member of the United States Hockey League, is a junior club that plays at the Fox Valley Ice Arena and shares the same space as the minor league baseball club Kane County Cougars. The Cougars are one of its leagues top draws and the Steel hope that a change in ownership a few years ago will rub off during the winter time attracting customers through various promotions and outreach programs.

Owner Larry Robbins purchased the team in 2015 and moved them from its original venue 27 miles west from Bensenville.  He bought the club as a “labor of love rather than a financial investment” and saw “an under-performing franchise that had loads of potential.” Upgrades to the facility include a new scoreboard in the main NHL rink, a new will call area, and renovations to the back of the rink with office facilities.

The highlight of his ownership has been the 2017 Clark Cup championship decided by a 2-1 score in the fifth and deciding game against Sioux City. Attendance has been building up since the clubs first year of 769 to 1,039 last year (2017-2018).

Food & Beverage 3

There is an array of concession items for fans to snack on during the game that include hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and other snacks. Coca-Cola products are served either by the fountain or bottles and both domestic and local beers are available in the building for $5 and $6 respectively. The local authorities include Goose Island’s Green Light and 317. There are two main concessions stands inside the rink and in the main lobby.

Connected to the rink is a Chelios Pub & Grill that features a more varied menu consisting of chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers, and poutine. There is also a wider selection of alcoholic beverages and a nice view of the arena from certain points of the restaurant.

Atmosphere 3

There is a lot going on at the Fox Valley Ice Arena during a Steel game. The facility consists of two hockey rinks separated by the main lobby that seems to be always full of commerce from the local high school players and the fans from the Steel game intermingling with one another. Speaking of the lobby, it’s very nicely decorated with Team banners from the USHL, an unimpressive looking box office, and an entrance to Chelios Pub & Grill.

The arena where the Steel play features a low-level ceiling, seats on both sides of the ice, and suite seating up above that requires a separate entrance from the main lobby. The twelve suites provide a very nice view of the arena and also include food service and balcony seating.

A video board hangs over center ice and provides a lot of entertainment during stops in play and at intermission that includes fan interactions, out-of-town scores, player stats, and pregame videos featuring members of the team in comical features. There is also a giant size banner honoring the 2017 Clark Cup Championship.

Rusty, dog, is the official mascot of the team that can be seen throughout the building at certain times offering hugs to fans of all ages. There are a couple of concession tables offering an impressive collection of team gear that includes hats, t-shirts, and both home and away jerseys. And it would not be a hockey game without the obligatory chuck-a-puck.

Neighborhood 3

The Fox Valley Ice Arena is just a few blocks south of Northwestern Medicine Field where the Kane County Cougars play.  If you are in town for a game in early April, there is the possibility of making a doubleheader. Downtown St. Charles offers many shops, restaurants, and scenic views along the Fox River.

A little closer to the arena is The Country House, a few blocks on Kirk Road. The restaurant is known to have the “Best Burger in Chicago Award” according to the Chicago Tribune. It also serves giant muffuletta sandwiches, wraps, ribs, and steaks. Downtown Geneva offers great choices at Atwater’s and The Little Owl, both local favorites and known for great pub food.

The Penrose Brewing, Stockholms Brewery, and Two Brothers Brewery are all about 15 minutes from the ballpark and are good places for drinks and a full food menu if you enjoy microbrews.

Fans 3

The average crowds are around a thousand with the exception of Blackhawks Night that packs the place to full capacity. Many in the stands are curious onlookers, but there are also many who are invested in the game and a few others who travel quite a long distance to take in a contest. The Steel definitely appeals to a family crowd as many of its promotions are designed to bring the little ones out and with prices as low as they are, an ideal way to enjoy pretty good hockey not too far from home for many folks.

Access 3

There is plenty of parking at the arena and once inside one doesn’t have to look too far to find the main rink where the team plays. There are bathrooms inside the arena and also in the lobby. Also, there are plenty of staff members who can be found to answer any questions that may be on your mind.  There are multiple interstates that will bring you to the arena by car, but many of them are toll roads that can add up depending on where you are coming from in the Chicagoland area.

Return on Investment 3

There are three price points for tickets for Steel games. $10, $15, and $20. These are pretty much average prices within the USHL and you really can’t complain when the price of a ticket is less than the price of a movie. The concession stands are reasonable, team merchandise ranges from $20 for a t-shirt to around $22 for a cap, and the parking is free.

Extras 4

The Fox Valley Ice Arena receives one point for its video board that entertains the fans during stops in play and intermission. The second point goes to Chelios Pub & Grill that offers a great variety of food and a nice view of the rink inside its facility. The third point is for the job the Steel staff who creates a professional experience at the facility. The arena features multiple banners, offers varied promotional nights, and provides a sense of welcoming to all the fans who attend games. The last point is for the suites that feature balcony seating overlooking the ice, a nice surprise and a good way to bring in extra revenue for the club.

Final Thoughts

Chicago loves its hockey and perhaps can find time enjoy attending games at its junior hockey club that operates at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. The management of the Chicago Steel has done a great job of creating a professional experience at the small venue and with affordable pricing a great way to an alternative for a night out of the house in the Chicagoland area.

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Food and Drink Recommendations

Little Owl Restaurant

105 W State St

Geneva, IL 60134

(630) 232-7238

http://www.flagstonecrafts.com


Atwater’s Restaurant

15 South River Lane

Geneva, IL 60134

(630) 208-8920

http://atwatersgeneva.com/


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Entertainment Recommendations

St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats

2 North Ave

St Charles, IL 60174

(630) 584-2334

http://www.stcriverboats.com/


Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden

1511 South Batavia Ave

Geneva, IL 60134

(630) 377-6424

https://www.ppfv.org/fabyan-villa-museum/

 


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Lodging Recommendations

 

Best Western Inn of St. Charles

1635 E Main St

St Charles, IL 60174

(630) 584-4550

http://www.bestwesternstcharles.com


 

Hotel Baker

100 W Main St

St Charles, IL 60174

(630) 584-2100

http://www.hotelbaker.com/


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Stadium Info

Fox Valley Ice Arena
1996 S Kirk Rd
Geneva, IL 60134

Chicago Steel website

Fox Valley Ice Arena website

Year Opened: 1996

Capacity: 2,000

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