Renovations in Erie


(Photo: Melissa Kania)

Things are looking a little different this year in the Erie Otters world, and it’s not just the arrival of players such as Oscar Dansk and Connor McDavid to the team. The home arena of the Otters – as well as the Bayhawks and Explosion – is getting a whole new look, as renovations are well underway.

Formerly known as Tullio Arena and now renamed Erie Insurance Arena, the name is far from the only change that you’ll notice when going to an Otters, Bayhawks or Explosion game.

The first thing you’ll notice? The elimination – perhaps temporary? – of the parking lot that was once located at the front of the arena. It’s currently a construction zone, surrounded by fences. There are parking options behind the arena as well as in a ramp located diagonally from the arena site.

In addition, the old front of the arena is being totally revamped. Instead of a flat front, renovations have shaped the front of the arena into a half-circle. That portion of the building is largely closed to the public, with the lone exception being the meeting rooms and suites on that side of the arena.

Renovations have expanded the sides of the arena, and spectators now enter the building on either the north or south side, depending on seat location. This is important because whatever side you’re sitting on, you’re pretty much stuck on that side of the arena, unless you go outside and go back in on the other side – there’s no way to walk around the entire rink.

That may be the most significant piece of information for anyone who plans to attend a game at the arena in the near future. Be sure that you enter the building on the correct side, and plan for it – if you have friends or family sitting on the other side of the rink, the only way to meet is to do so outside.

The concourse areas have been completely revamped and are what can only be described as ‘modern’ now. They’ve been widened, so it’s easier to walk around and get through to your section, a concession stand or restroom.

Concession stands have also been renovated, but don’t worry – the food is still just as reasonably priced. Several tables selling team merchandise, fan club tables and the like are located on both sides of the rink, so you won’t miss anything no matter which side you end up on.

Construction began in mid-December of last year, with a major portion of the work being completed over the summer, when the arena was closed. Renovations continue now, with the majority of phase two to be completed through summer 2013 and a grand re-opening scheduled for October 2013.