November 22, 2014 - Geneva, New York
We don't generally publish arena reviews of venues that we have already reviewed in the past. We're making a slight exception when it comes to the Geneva Recreation Complex as our original review discussed our visit in January of 2007 to see Hobart play in what was essentially an outdoor rink with a roof. The review itself featured photos taken a few months later once the arena was enclosed, as it exists today, but at the time we attended the first game Roaming The Rinks was in its infancy, and we did not take gameday photos. You can read our original take on the outdoor version of this facility Here . We figured it was time for a return visit after all these years to see the Statesmen take the ice again. Having opened in 1978, this simple cinder block structure was an open-air facility until the start of the 2007-2008 season. It was not uncommon for snow drifts to blow into the grandstand area and the fans to be buffeted by winds and cold temperatures. Fittingly, the arena is known locally not by its proper name, but simply as "The Cooler". The arena itself sits a block off of the main drag in Geneva and is in sight of Seneca Lake, as the shore is a couple hundred yards away. Hobart has been able to establish and maintain a championship caliber hockey program despite playing in this modest community arena. When approaching the arena you notice immediately that this is a small building, with a brown metal roof support structure and glass panels making up the eave and sides of the building. Glass walls now sit where simple canvas panels were once in place to attempt to block the wind, and the attendees can see through the glass walls onto the ice surface as they approach from the street. The arena is well kept, the glass walls add a visually appealing touch, but this is still a simple community ice rink. The location in town, rather than on Hobart's campus, does not seem to detract too much from student attendance as there were a fair number of students in attendance for this contest against Elmira College. Entry into the building is through a simple metal door on the side of the building. Hobart seem to make these modest surroundings work as the crowds are usually quite good here (although the capacity can't be more than 500), and the program is usually successful.
Once inside inside the Geneva Recreation Complex you are in a small entryway, and immediately come to the ticket table set up on gameday. A ticket for this game cost $5, and included a well done single page lineup card. Just past the ticket table is a small lobby outfitted with low benches so that those on hand to skate can easily slip their skates on. There is a concession window cut into the wall of the lobby offering a basic concession menu for those in attendance. The lobby is heated, so it becomes a popular spot between periods despite not being outfitted with much space or many amenities. The lobby overlooks the ice, and the arena is accessed through a double door. Once inside you will find a sheet of ice with 5 rows of metal bleachers along the side wall closest to the street. That's it. There is a nice upper level pressbox above the benches and a sharp looking center ice scoreclock, but the setup here is about as straightforward as you can get. Fans access the seating area via a narrow aisle between the boards and the bleachers, but first must pass by the visitors locker room area. The locker rooms must be small as the visiting teams set up a Gatorade station and have their skate sharpening equipment sitting in the area between the lobby and the grandstand aisle in the corner of the arena, in full view of the fans. Wooden ceiling planks add a nice touch to the look of the arena, and everything inside is sparkling clean and not at all rundown. With the bleachers squeezed in between the wall of the building and the ice surface there is protective netting running the entire distance in front of the seating, further limiting the view of the fans. The sight lines are not great to begin with, as the seats are gently sloping and the bottom row is at ice level, but the netting does not help things. Many fans choose to view the game while standing along the end wall, either on the lobby end, or near the far end of the ice, where Hobart has built a small addition to the arena which features a team office and dressing room. The Geneva Recreation Center is hardly a palace, and is small by any standards, but it does have a bit of character to it, and is a gritty place to watch a game.
The gameday presentation at the Geneva Recreation Complex for a Hobart Statesmen game, like the venue itself, is all business and without frills. The PA is rather quiet, but effective, The game takes center stage as there are no activities at all during intermission, and most folks head for the warmth of the lobby while new ice is made. There is a large contingent of fans on hand, including many students, but there is no organized
"student section" so to speak, and aside from a few "Let's Go Hobart" chants the crowd was rather subdued. There were a few Elmira fans on hand as well as they are only an hour down the road, but the support for the Statesmen was quite good, as the stands were essentially full, and nearly every standing spot along the glass was taken. We did notice that the Hobart crowd is made up of a relatively high-income crowd, as designer clothes were the norm, except for the occasional hoodie from a vacation destination like the Hamptons, or Jackson Hole. It is hard to call Hobart a blue collar school, but despite having a fairly uncomfortable, cold, small arena fans come out to support the team. We have to think an on-campus arena twice this size would fill up easily as well. The game itself was a hard hitting contest, with Hobart claiming a 4-2 win after an empty-netter. The crowd went home happy, and they keep coming back to The Cooler knowing what they will get. They will not get a large or luxurious place to watch the game, or lots of amenities, but they will consistently get a winning product on the ice which keeps the fans returning. The team and fans seem to have adopted The Cooler as their home and take pride in the fact that it is both an uncomfortable place to watch a game, and a hostile environment for opponents.
A box score of the game can be found Here
Other information about the Hobart Statesmen can be found at: Hobart Hockey Home
Other information about the Geneva Recreation Complex can be found at: Arena Home
More photos of the Geneva Recreation Complex can be found Here