Over time, the malls and the event center came together. Earlier this year, stores began opening and we learned that our CHL team would be called the Allen Americans. Compared to animal avatars like the Mississippi River Kings' attitude-filled turtle, Odessa's Jackalopes, and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, "Americans" seemed a bit lacking in pizazz – and, while on the topic, I sort of wish the Americans' red uniforms didn't remind me so much of the hated Detroit Redwings – but we had a shiny new hockey team, and it was good. No, really. In their first season, which started in October, the Americans are currently only two points behind the Southern Conference leading Odessa Jackalopes.
All of that to say that Turtle, her parents, and I finally attended our first Allen Americans game last night, against the Texas Brahmas.
Initial impressions were generally positive. The event center, which is conveniently located about five minutes from our house, is very nice: brightly lit and very clean – as one would expect from a brand-new facility. It's not a huge venue, so even the nosebleed seats provide a reasonably close-up view of the action. The seats are all nicely padded and, for those with a lot more money than I'll ever have to throw around, skyboxes ring the arena. Jumbotron, check. Flashing, animated advertisements, check. Ice Angels (cheerleader/dancers) in white lycra pants so tight that a single splash of water in the wrong place would turn into an anatomy lesson… check!
More important, the level of play is surprisingly high. The players attack the puck and one another with the same amount of energy and relish as in any NHL game, and about the only real differences I could see were that the passing was not as crisp, nor the goaltending as impenetrable. These guys are a blast to watch, without having to take a second mortgage on your home to buy a ticket.
The only real down side is a significant one for Turtle and me – and a significant one that, if not addressed, will prevent us from supporting our team as we otherwise would have done. The Allen Event Center's ADA compliance feels like a nod and a wink. As far as the seating, at least. When I set about trying to acquire tickets for wheelchair accessible seating, it took me several phone calls and an unanswered voicemail message before I finally gave up on reaching anyone with a clue and went to the box office. There, after about 5 minutes of back and forth and “let me go ask,” I learned that the only accessible seating is on the glass. Not a bad thing in and of itself, as these are prime seats, near one or the other of the goals. The problem is that these are the most expensive seats, at $30 per ticket (as compared to the terrace seats, which cost less than half that). Then, when we showed up for the game, we were repeatedly (but politely) moved every time someone with season seats showed up and wanted our spots. I drew the line when it was suggested that Turtle should have to sit behind the 6'5" fat cat with season tickets.
After the dust settled, everyone was able to see and we had an awesome time, but the lack of accommodation for those who can't climb stairs left a bad taste in my mouth. In fairness, the event center has only been open for a month, and I'm sure the folks who run things are still trying to get their collective act together. I can only hope that the city of Allen, which owns the event center, will pay attention to the feedback it will certainly get from disabled citizens and get it together so we can all support the team.
All in all, we all had a great time at our first Americans game and hope to have the opportunity to cheer on our new team!