- Lloyd Brown
Enmarket Arena – Savannah Ghost Pirates
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Enmarket Arena 620 Stiles Ave Savannah, GA 31415
Savannah Ghost Pirates website
Year Opened: 2022 Capacity: 7,300
Savannah’s New Haunted House of Hockey
Savannah, Georgia is a city that has received national acclaim for its historic preservation over the years. As the original city of Georgia in the colonial era, it has one of the largest historic districts in any American city. However, the Savannah Civic Center in Downtown Savannah has not been on any preservation lists. Built in 1974, the building is now technically obsolete in many ways and is worn by its heavy usage over the last 48 years. It had lost much of its business to the Savannah Convention Center, located just across the Savannah River from the Historic District of Savannah. Numerous sites for an updated venue to take some of the load off the civic center were considered.
Fast forward now to 2022, and that much needed facility is now open. The Enmarket Arena opened its doors for business in February 2022. The facility has a seating bowl that can hold 9,500 for basketball and large meetings and 7,300 for ice hockey. In addition to the seating bowl, the facility offers 12 luxury suites, five loge boxes, and a large party suite. Enmarket Arena is located less than two miles west of Downtown Savannah and the Historic District. The new arena will buoy the fast-developing Canal District. Enmarket, the naming sponsor, is the largest convenience store and gas station operator in the Coastal Empire.
Once the arena was on its way to becoming a reality, the business community set out to recruit a hockey team/program to serve as the featured sports program in the venue. Their search for a tenant was successful in the form of the Savannah Ghost Pirates hockey team. The Ghost Pirates are an expansion team, playing in the Southern Division of the ECHL. This Division includes teams from Charleston, SC (South Carolina Stingrays); Greenville, SC (Greenville Swamp Rabbits); Orlando, FL (Orlando Solar Bears); Estero, FL (Florida Everblades); Norfolk, VA (Norfolk Admirals), and the metro Atlanta, GA area (Atlanta Gladiators). Another expansion team in Athens, GA will join the league in 2023. This division is really set up to foster multiple rivalry games each season due to the cities’ close proximity to each other. The Ghost Pirates are affiliated with the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL and the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL.
Food & Beverage 4
Enmarket Arena has recruited a wide variety of food vendors nationally and locally to be a part of its food and beverage offerings. Many of the vendors specialize in one type of food, such as the 912 Doghouse (chili cheese dogs, slaw dogs, brats), Taquero Y Taco (Birria tacos, pork tacos, beef tacos, and vegetarian tacos), Last Kernel Popcorn and Backstage BBQ (BBQ nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and BBQ chicken). Among the local restaurants opening a location at the arena are Spanky’s, Port City Pizza, PS Tavern, and 520 Wings.
Enmarket Arena Hometown Favorite Spanky’s, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Alcohol is the focus at the Jack Daniels Bar, the Wicked Weed Brewing Company, and the Enmarket Grab and Go.
All transactions at Enmarket Arena are cashless.
The opening of Enmarket Arena has been in the making for many years, and the locals have turned out in droves to enjoy some great concerts and the arrival of ice hockey in Savannah.
The entrance to the arena features a soaring two-story lobby with plenty of glass to allow plenty of natural light. The lobby is home to the ticket windows for the facility, as well as the Ghost Pirates team store. Fans are delivered to the seating bowl of the arena via several escalators. A spacious concourse is filled with a wide variety of concession items that should fit the taste of most every fan. There are three levels of seats surrounding the hockey action, with the first and second levels accessed via the concourse. The top level of seats is considered club level and can only be accessed via a private elevator.
Very comfortable chairback seating is found throughout the area. The legroom is quite comfortable and there are no obstructed views of the action. There is netting at both ends of the ice for safety reasons, but it is a fine enough thickness that it will not interfere with your enjoyment of the game. The puck-in-play rule is strictly enforced throughout the facility. Our only disappointment was the lack of drink holders in some areas of the seating bowl.
Fans can keep up with the key plays and game stats via the four-sided center-hung videoboard/scoreboard. Numerous quizzes, music, kiss cams, and news of upcoming events fill the breaks in the action on the ice.
Savannah is one of the top tourist cities in the southeastern United States. It is famous for its preservation efforts, which have resulted in one of the largest historic districts in the country. Many of the homes in the historic district have been converted to B&Bs, giving visitors a unique opportunity to stay in a home dating back to the 1700s. The city is also known for River Street, which fronts the Savannah River, and is filled with restaurants, nightlife, and shops. Enmarket Arena is in the Canal District of Savannah, which is just west of the Historic District and the River Street entertainment and shopping area.
The arena is less than two miles from the many squares that have existed since colonial times and that Savannah is known for. Amongst the many attractions in the area are the Georgia State Railroad Museum, the Mercer-Williams House Museum (made famous by the book “Midnight in the House of Good and Evil”), and the many museums and galleries linked to the Savannah College of Art and Design. Savannah is also known as a foodie heaven, as it is home to Paula Deen, Elizabeth’s on 37th Street, and the Bird Cookie Company.
Most of the downtown hotels are concentrated along Bay Street and River Street, and they are a short walk from the Enmarket Arena. The Plant Riverside District opened recently as an extension of River Street and has both hotels and B&Bs as lodging options for visitors.
To get detailed information on the sights, sounds, tastes, and lodging options available in Savannah, go to Visit Savannah.
The Savannah Ghost Pirates have gotten off to a terrific start with the development of a fan base. Savanah attracts people for vacations from all over the country. It also has a huge retirement population due to its warm weather, history, and a wide range of recreational activities, both on dry land and on the ocean. A sizable portion of these retirees lived most of their lives in areas of the country where hockey is readily available and popular. This has provided a very hockey-knowledgeable fan base that is thrilled to have a team in Savannah. The Ghost Pirates already have one of the largest season ticket bases in the ECHL. In their inaugural season, most games were sold out weeks in advance, leaving some fans with a “ghost of a chance” to get in the game!
You may be wondering about the name Ghost Pirates. Well, one of the first things the ownership of the team did was to allow the public to take a role in the naming of the team. Savannah has a long history of pirates plying their trade along the Georgia coast. The city is also known for its supposedly haunted cemeteries and homes. This was a brilliant move, as it gave the public some “buy-in” to the new franchise. The public also named the team’s mascot… resulting in Davy (as in “Davy Jones locker.”) The team uniforms are green. This is in recognition of the fact that Savannah has a heavily Irish population and hosts the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the U.S. after New York City.
The most involved fans are the season ticket holders, known as ‘Fantoms.”
Enmarket Arena is located less than a mile west of Downtown Savannah and the Historic District. The arena is easy to get to through a variety of routes.
Free Trolleys run from the Savannah Civic Center lot on West Liberty in the Historic District to the Enmarket Arena both before and after the games. Trolley service starts 90 minutes prior to the puck drop.
The Enmarket Arena strongly urges fans to prepurchase their parking well before their event.
Once at the Enmarket Arena, doors open 60 minutes prior to the puck drop.
Return on Investment 3
Enmarket Arena offers Ghost Pirate tickets at a variety of price points based on location in reference to the rink layout. Tickets on the sides in the lower level cost $44, while tickets on the sides in the upper level go for $32. Corner seats on the lower level retail for $34, with tickets in the corners on the upper level going for $20. Seats behind the nets on the lower level are $27, while seats on the upper level behind the nets go for $25.
Parking is $15-$20 depending on which lot you choose. Parking passes must be prepurchased from the Enmarket Arena website.
Concession prices are no bargain, but they are in line with what you would expect at a sports venue (i.e., $6 hot dogs, $10 hamburgers, $6 sodas, and $5 bottled water).
All purchases at the Enmarket Arena are on a cashless basis and all tickets are digital.
These prices are in line with what other ECHL-level hockey venues are charging. However, Savannah is one of the top tourist destinations in the South, and downtown and riverfront hotels can be very expensive (more than $300/night). The rule of thumb is that the further away from the historic district and the riverfront your hotel is, the price goes down dramatically. Lodging in the Midtown and Airport areas is much less expensive, and still offers easy access to the arena.
The Enmarket Arena partners with Live Nation to book concerts for the facility. In the first year of operation, the arena has hosted concerts by Reba McIntyre, Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Jimmy Buffett, Bon Jovi, Journey, Pitbull, the Eagles, and Andrea Bocelli.
The arena incorporated the latest in building techniques to exceed the goals for low carbon emission, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and minimizing the amount of waste produced.
Savannah has a large military presence in the form of Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart. The Ghost Pirates offer a 10% discount on tickets for military members and their families.
Season ticket holders for the Ghost Pirates are referred to as “Fantoms,” while children enrolled in the team’s junior hockey club are known as “Davy’s Matey’s.”
The Hostilo Hoops Basketball Tournament features 10 college basketball teams competing over a two-week period each November. The tournament has both men’s and women’s competitions.
The Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame is located at Enmarket Arena.
Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame Enmarket Arena, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Savannah has been one of the top tourist destinations in the South for many years. What it has been missing is an active sports scene. The opening of the brand-new Enmarket Arena promises to change that situation very quickly. The addition of a minor league hockey franchise in the form of the Ghost Pirates will result in several natural sports rivalries being created between Savannah and neighboring ECHL teams in Savannah, Jacksonville, and North Charleston. Savannah’s Hockey Haunt is on!