Greetings from the Capital Region, proud owners of the DFL distinction when it comes to AHL attendance two years running. Tonight marks the first visit to the Times Union Center for the strangers that make up the 2012-13 Syracuse Crunch roster and this blogger is here to guide you through that journey east on I-90.
For starters, bring your Price Chopper AdvantEdge Card, it will save you $2 off the price of admission. If you’re a college student, bring your ID and get a $10 ticket along with a voucher for a $1 hot dog and $1 soda. It’s also worth noting that the first 500 fans through the doors get a free Albany Devils t-shirt, which you can keep in your car for those times that Dr. Deuce has not the patience for you to get to a toilet.
I recommend getting there a bit early because somehow, someway, more than 5,000 people turned out for opening night; the team normally draws little more than half of that. Union hockey is off this weekend and RPI is in Minnesota, so local puck fans will only have the Baby Devs to satisfy their fix and I’m sure many will want to get a peek at the kind of, sort of defending Calder Cup champions. There’s also this tasty little incentive for early arrival: $2 domestics during happy hour from 6-7 p.m.
Around the arena you will find a few different spots for pregame grub. Wolf’s 1-11 is a popular locally owned sports restaurant in the area and they have opened a secondary location next to the Times Union Center. I can’t say that I’ve ever been, but I’ve heard good things and am declaring this the unofficial CHGA pregame headquarters, Albany division (I can’t make it official, only Magic and Alex have that kind of authority). They have two-for-one drink specials starting at 4 p.m.
Once you’re inside, the ushers are pretty lax about letting you move around to the different cheap seats toward the top half of the lower bowl, so just nab the cheapest ticket you can find. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house; this a larger arena than the old OnCenter barn (14,236 capacity for hockey) and has more of a small-scale NHL building than Division III field house feel and look (but I still love you, War Memorial).
Albany has won just two of the last ten games played against Syracuse on home ice, so the odds of seeing another Crunch victory are strong. The Devils bolster a strong contingent of Empire State talent on their roster, including Jay Leach (Syracuse), Steve Zalewski (Utica), and Tim Sestito (Rome).
After the game, you can head north on Pearl Street, hang a right on Colonie, and then a left on Broadway and you’ll be at Stout and Biergarten, two of the finer establishments in the area right across the street from each other just a mile from the arena. These are cash-only restaurants, so stop off at an ATM beforehand. Biergarten is a German-style bar while Stout is an Irish pub. Both have great post game meal options and sports-fan friendly atmospheres.