Allen County War Memorial Coliseum – Fort Wayne Komets
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 4000 Parnell Ave Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Year Opened: 1952
It’s Always Hockey Night in Fort Wayne
The Ft. Wayne Komets are the 2nd oldest minor league hockey operation in the country after the Hershey Bears. The team was founded in 1952 and has been called the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum – it’s home for close to 70 years; not too many other hockey teams can say that.
The team had been members of the International Hockey League, before bouncing around numerous leagues after the 1998/99 season and settling in the ECHL in 2012. Despite the different leagues, the Komets have been constant playoff contenders capturing nine championships, including four cups in five seasons between 2008-2012.
In 2002, the Coliseum underwent a much-needed renovation that raised the 1,200-ton roof 41 feet and 10 inches to modernized the building and create greater accessibility for guests with disabilities. The final cost of the project was $34.5 million and increased capacity size from 10,500 to 13,000.
In 2013, a $3.96 million renovation modernized all the restrooms on the 200 Level and added two large food courts and retail space. These renovations have been beneficial to the facility in attracting concerts and other events, but it has not taken away from the charm of the old-school building.
Today, a Fort Wayne Komets game is one of your best values in one of the better hockey buildings in the country. The moment you step into the coliseum doors, it’s going to be a good time from before the first puck drops. You are surrounded by some of the best fans in the sport.
Food & Beverage 5
There is quite a bit of everything at the coliseum at game night. There are two food court areas in the 200 Level where fans can feast on pizza slices from Slice’d, take-out style Asian cuisine from Wok this Wayne, grilled burgers from Appleseed Burger Company, and jumbo dogs from Dog House Cart.
Fans can choose from slices or a whole pie, plus steak hoagies and submarinos and fried ravioli. The slices are just about the right size and are on display for customers to pick and choose.
Adjacent to Slice’d are teriyaki bowls that come in two sizes. Patrons can pick their protein, vegetables, toppings, and sauces and watch while they are created right in front of them. Other take-out options include sesame beef, General Tso chicken, and vegetable lo mein.
If there couldn’t be more at the arena, Banditos whips up burritos and nachos right in front of you along with hard or soft tacos. BBQ 58 serves mouthwatering items such as pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket nachos, and Piggy Back Tina Tots that are covered with jalapeno, cheese, sour cream, barbecue sauce, and scallions.
There is still more variety from individual kiosks offering Yuengling variety, jerk chicken, roasted nuts, soft pretzels, and Tim Horton’s coffee. However, fans looking for your basics of nachos, hot dogs, peanuts, and chicken tenders won’t be disappointed since the arena has you covered. Tables and bar stools are provided for fans to enjoy their meal before the game or during intermission.
Ft. Wayne is one of the better cities to watch a minor league hockey game, and the club routinely finishes atop the ECHL in standings as well as in the top 5 in all of minor league hockey. No matter what league the Komets are playing in, the fans create an atmosphere that is truly something amazing in a state where basketball is king.
An hour before the game, fans march to the arena decked out in the teams’ colors of black and orange. They make their way up the escalator to the atrium where the excitement begins with mascot appearances, chuck-a-puck sign-ups, program sales, and a large merchandise stand with just about every kind of team merchandise one could want to own.
The seating bowl is packed full of vivacious fans who wave flags and bang mini drums to get the rest of their supporters excited. Staff members are not only there to help you get to your seat but provide friendly service and don’t seem to bother you if you happen to move around the concourse trying to get the best view of the action on the ice.
Icy D. Eagle is the club’s official mascot, and he does a lot of climbing around the seating bowl, introducing himself to people, and creating a lot of noise with a drum kid himself. His activity throughout the game is somewhat impressive, but that is just part of the atmosphere one will find at the coliseum during the hockey game.
A large video screen provides additional entertainment for fans throughout the breaks in the action, promotions take place on the sponsor-covered ice, and the building erupts with a raucous cheer when the Komets score a goal, or a fight takes place on the ice.
The coliseum is located near an abundance of chain restaurants, retail outlets, and berries lodging options. There is almost everything you could want within a couple of miles from the building including coney dogs, barbecue, craft beer, and coffee shops.
Mister Coney has been a mainstay for over 50 years and offers their take on the coney dog that is a bit meatier in texture than what you would find downtown. Mission BBQ is a Maryland-based chain but provides an array of smoked meats and 8 varieties of barbecue with portions of their proceeds going back to first responders. 2Tom’s Brewing Company brews a nice range of beer and offers a laid-back atmosphere perfect for games of all ages.
Glenbrooke Square Mall is one of the largest in the area and is surrounded by familiar chain restaurants and shops. Tim Horton’s has a location here featuring its coffee that is widely consumed up north in Canada. There is also the practice rink for the Ft. Wayne Komets and if you happen to be in town for a doubleheader between hockey and a basketball game, you should be able to find enough to keep you busy in between games at the coliseum.
The Komets lead the ECHL attendance ever since joining the league for the 2012/2013 season and at one time were the number 2 attendant team in all of minor league hockey. The fans pack the building regularly, and 9,000 plus were on hand for our latest visit. You can spot many wearing Komets jerseys and gear while others enjoy a night out at the old rink. While the rest of the country is catching up to minor league hockey, it’s been king in Ft. Wayne since 1952.
The coliseum has gone through a couple of renovations that have modernized the building to create better access for all patrons. Areas are well marked, and escalators and elevators are available to transport fans to multiple areas. There is parking for 5,000 cars, and it’s only a 1.5 half-mile drive from the I-69 exit or a 4-mile drive to downtown Ft. Wayne.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets prices start at $12 for the 600 Level, economical for the conscious traveler. If you are looking for watching the game with a rowdier, more cutthroat type of fan-not to say that they don’t exist in the 600 Level-purchase a $28 ticket for the lower bowl. Here, the fans yell at the goalie and chant various unpleasantries to the opposing team.
The Komets have a few nearby rivals, most notably the Toledo Walleye, who also have a dedicated group of fans and are located two hours to the east of town. These games are usually the highest in numbers, but other great rival games include match-ups with the Indy Fuel and the Kalamazoo Wings.
Parking is $6 a car, aligned with other ECHL venues, and menu options are reasonable and plentiful. However, it is wise to arrive early due to increased traffic and long lines heading into the lot. Food pricing is average–not too cheap and not too expensive–but there are a few game-day deals at certain concession stands worth taking advantage of that won’t hurt the wallet.
The atmosphere and passion from the fans is also a major selling point for the return of investment. There are not too many other minor league towns that offer these sorts of credentials. Everywhere you look around, you feel you are somewhere much more than minor league games; you feel like you are at a major event in town.
Did you ever wonder why the team spells its name with a K? When original owner Ernie Berg decided upon a nickname for his new hockey team, he wanted a name that suggested speed, flash, and excitement. He spelled it with a “K” instead of a “C” after his wife Kathryn, who went by Kay.
The Rooftop Lounge offers full menu options, plus outdoor seating where smoking cigarettes is allowed. The lounge offers a vast selection of drinks and its food menu and is open to the 21 and over crowd.
The two food courts are spacious, creative, and bright for an older facility that features tight concourses in certain areas. The prices are reasonable, and the selections are varied in these two hot spots on the 200 Level.
Ft. Wayne should be considered ‘Hockey City, Indiana’ since the popularity of the sport wanes almost everywhere else in the state. There are minor league clubs in Indianapolis and Evansville, but here minor league hockey is the king of the Hoosier State.
A Fort Wayne Komets game is indeed a marvelous time for everyone who enters the coliseum doors. The 9,000-plus on hand for the game creates an atmosphere, and then I’ll be on suits that could easily make a fan of the sport and let everyone know that this is truly one of the great minor league hockey towns in the country. It is nothing new as fans have been coming to games for nearly 70 years, and something tells me they’ll be doing it for another seventy years. It’s always a good night for hockey in Ft. Wayne.