I was in Pennsylvania on Friday. Yes, 2 weekends in a row. There’s a good reason behind all of these visits though. Maybe I’ll be able to give you more detail sometime soon. Anyways, I spent Friday night watching a hockey game. Not just any hockey game, a hockey game in which one of my friends was playing, in a town known for its hockey history.
Hershey, Pennsylvania has been home to hockey since 1936. In ’36 the Hersheypark Arena opened after the Hershey B’ars, known as the Hershey Bears today, formed an AHL team.The arena has been home to the Bears, 8 time Calder Cup title holders, since opening day. Even though the Bears have since moved to the new Giant Center for their games, they still practice in the historic arena.
The Hersheypark Arena can sit 7,286 people or 8,000 including standing room space. The men’s league pick-up hockey game I watched was a hoot. Two teams of (good-looking) middle-aged men shooting a puck around versus friends and team members. I walked around the arena snooping for a bit before actually sitting in the curved, wood-backed seats, and watching the game.
The three tiers of steeply pitched seats that line the curved building were quite charming. Classic and timeless. 8 banners hung over the stadium on the east side of the building that proclaimed the bears the champs. The children of the hockey dads were running around the stadium playing hide-and-go-seek and some form of a “zombie monster” game while their laughter echoed through the old stadium.
The Hersheypark Arena is no longer open for large events. Hockey games, concerts, circuses, ice-capades, and other big events have moved across the street to the Giant Center simply because it’s a newer, larger facility. Local college hockey teams use the arena for their hockey practices and games. Here are a few pictures of the arena from decades past: