McMullen Hockey Arena – Navy Midshipmen Hockey
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
McMullen Hockey Arena 64 Greenbury Point Road Annapolis, MD 21402
Year Opened: 2007
Blue and Gold McMullen
Pretty much all sports fans know about Navy football, and most are aware of at least some of the Navy’s other varsity sports. The lacrosse team has been successful in recent years, and the basketball team produced NBA legend, David Robinson. However, few people know that the Navy also has a college hockey team.
The Midshipmen don’t play hockey at an NCAA level – rather, they play club hockey in the ACHA. Navy’s premier and best-known club team compete in Division 1, the highest level of the league, although they have a D2 team as well that attracts significantly less attention. For this review, we attended a D1 game, as that is the Navy’s top-level team and the one that gets the primary focus.
Navy plays their home games at McMullen Hockey Arena, which forms part of the Brigade Sports Complex. The BSC is also home to the Navy’s tennis teams and contains a fitness center. It contains enough seating for 695 fans, but with standing room, it can hold over 2,500.
Food & Beverage 1
There are a few vending machines in the lobby of the arena which sell snacks as well as hot and cold beverages. However, there is no concession stand or snack bar here. We recommend you eat before or after the game.
Although McMullen Hockey Arena is not an NCAA rink, it is nice enough to be. Once you head from the lobby through the glass doors into the ice rink, you will walk around the ice itself and up a set of bleachers. All seats are benches with backs and provide an excellent view of the action. A center-hung scoreboard provides information on the score, time, and penalties for fans to keep track of.
As this is club hockey rather than NCAA or professional, there are no extended breaks in the action for the team to do anything except for intermission or if one of the teams calls a timeout. As a result, you will not see some of the things you might see at a different venue.
Nonetheless, the Midshipmen do keep fans engaged by playing music to pump up the crowd during stoppages in play, and it seems to work. It can get loud in McMullen at times, especially late during close games or when the Navy scores a goal.
Annapolis is a small-sized city of about 40,000 people, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. There’s a shopping center located across from the arena with a few basic restaurants, but you can find far better food a short drive away.
Annapolis is located on the Chesapeake Bay, there are plenty of great seafood
restaurants nearby, including Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs, The Boatyard Bar & Grill, and the Sailor Oyster Bar, all located within a couple of miles of the arena. If you want an authentic sweet treat after your meal, The Boatyard sells the official state dessert of Maryland, Smith Island Cake, which is made fresh on Smith Island daily and brought up by ferry.
The real attraction, though, is the U.S. Naval Academy itself. The grounds are beautiful, and there’s so much history, so be sure to take a tour while you’re in town. Keep in mind, however, that driving onto Academy grounds is prohibited without proper military clearance. There is a shuttle available from the football stadium or you can park downtown and walk onto the post.
Navy draws remarkably well for a club hockey team, with most games having a standing room-only crowd. While typically the only game that completely sells out is the one against the rival Army, the building will be mostly full night in and night out. The fans who show up are passionate and cheer the Mids on for the duration of the game. Many regulars go to just about every game, but there are also families and other fans who show up to just one or two games a year. Regardless, the fans are passionate and it can get quite loud in here.
Although getting onto Academy grounds is extremely difficult, the BSC is not actually on the post. Therefore, you should have no problem just driving up to the arena and parking in the parking lot nearby. The main route into town is U.S. Route 50, and once you get off via one of several exits, it is only a short drive to the rink. There are bathrooms in the lobby which are spacious and clean, and fans should have no problems walking around the rink itself.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and free for Midshipmen. Considering the intimate setting and the fact that the atmosphere here is comparable to an NCAA rink, this is a good deal.
Several banners are hanging on the walls honoring great Navy hockey teams as well as the annual Crab Pot Tournament. The Crab Pot is Maryland’s version of the Beanpot, and usually (though not always) features four in-state ACHA schools.
In the lobby of the BSC, you will find several additional displays honoring Navy hockey, featuring photographs and old newspapers that show the history of this program.
A third and final star for the fact that McMullen Hockey Arena has several open skates a week for the general public, giving kids and families a chance to skate on the same ice as the players. Depending on the timing, one of these sessions may wind up being immediately before or after the Navy game, meaning fans can experience both in one trip.
Although Navy hockey is not at an NCAA level, you wouldn’t know it from walking inside the McMullen Hockey Arena. This is a remarkable facility with great fans and a great atmosphere. While there are undoubtedly some naysayers who will insist this isn’t “real” college hockey, the Navy has done a good job of proving them wrong.