November 5, 2017 - Warminster, Pennsylvania
Although the NHL's Flyers have a stranglehold on the Philly hockey scene, garnering most of the attention from area fans, there is a solid, and longstanding junior hockey tradition in southeastern Pennsylvania, with junior teams known as the Little Flyers and Junior Flyers having deep traditions. A little to the north, in the bucolic suburban area of Bucks County, sits a very successful junior organization known as the Revolution. Revolution Ice Gardens sits in a small industrial park miles away from the nearest traffic light. The pale metal building sits without a sign on its exterior, and could easily be mistaken for a warehouse or other industrial building like the nearby properties. A row of pine hedges that could probably use a good trimming sits in front of the main exterior walls of the building. The low-rise structure features a gray textured cinder block entryway, with large glass panels surrounding the simply doorway. A small parking lot sits outside the arena, and the exterior of the building hardly looks fancy or modern, but this simple building does serve as a busy twin pad facility to meet the needs of the nearby Bucks County residents. Having opened in 1994, the arena has gone by several names, including The Rink at Warwick, but the current designation as Revolution Ice Gardens has a ring to it and the unified branding with the teams which occupy the building is a nice touch. With 2 nearby rivals in the EHL (the Little Flyers and Junior Flyers) the recipe for success seems to be in place to provide players, and fans, a solid, although basic, venue in which to enjoy junior hockey. This Sunday morning contest against the Valley Junior Warriors fit our schedule nicely after attending a game at Princeton 45 minutes away the night before. In a NHL market junior hockey will always be pretty far down the list when it comes to attracting fan and media attention, but the Revolution have a good thing going with solid programs at several levels.
Upon entering Revolution Ice Gardens you immediately see where the overall theme kicks in and the Revolution branding becomes evident. Just inside the entry door is a small lobby with a huge Revolution logo mural on one wall, and a stairway that leads to the upper level of the arena, where the snack bar is, although that was closed before this Sunday morning game. More team signage sits above the entry to the long hallway that leads to the entrance to the 2 ice pads. A nicely stocked pro shop sits off of the hallway and features team gear in addition to the usual skate, stick, and tape needs. Admission for this contest was $5, and the EHL team plays in the arena with the larger seating capacity, although the other rink has a fair amount of seating as well. A very nice touch are the small banners hanging in the hallway paying tribute to all of the former Revolution players who went on to play college hockey, complete with the player name and the logo of his college team. A lot of activity was taking place with youth and girls hockey on this morning, so the narrow hallway filled up rather quickly with players and parents after the youth games ended. Once inside the arena itself, you find a very nice layout featuring 8 rows of seating complete with red plastic chairback seats, along with more Revolution signage in the form of banners and a center ice logo. Additional viewing can be had from the enclosed area above the grandstand and from the concession stand area, which opened about halfway through this 11 AM Sunday morning game. Interior walls are tan, and the large metal ceiling beams slope away from the grandstand. Both benches and the penalty boxes are located on the side across from the grandstand. There is no center ice scoreclock, and the ceiling is rather low. The seating itself is broken up into 2 separate aluminum grandstand sections, each with the red plastic seats. We would guess the seating capacity to be around 700 or so. Once inside the arena you realize that this place is a lot nicer than it looks from the outside, and is one of the more appealing facilities we have seen for the Tier 3 junior level.
The game day experience at Revolution Ice Gardens for a Revolution EHL game is an enjoyable one. The presentation, like in most of Tier 3 hockey, is a laid back one. The seating is very nice however, and there is no netting blocking the view from the grandstand like in many community arenas. The seating is also steep enough to provide good sight lines and a clear view of the action. The thing that stands out here is how the Revolution theme is carried out throughout the entire building and with the team presentation. The team has one of the more interesting logos in hockey, and the theme continues when the Rev scores as the Beatles "Revolution" song is blasted over the speakers as the goal song. As you would expect with a Sunday morning 11AM game, a small crowd of 100 or so fans was on hand, although they were able to enjoy a very entertaining game which saw the home team claim a 5-3 victory. Free rosters are provided for fans, and at $5 you certainly can enjoy the game at a reasonable price. The temperature is rather cold in the arena, so most fans head to the lobby to warm up at intermission, and the odd location of the snack bar, which is above the seating area but somewhat hard to access, makes for a limited business for the concession stand. Despite the small crowd the arena feels like it has a great atmosphere for a venue at this level, perhaps it is because of the excellent job of branding that the Revolution do, as the team logo and theme is carried out in everything that the team does. It is unlikely that this small arena tucked away in an industrial park in Bucks County will become an attraction for hockey fans, but this is surely a more than adequate venue for a junior team, and has more the feel of a big-time arena than most of its counterparts which are the same size. In the case of Revolution Ice Gardens you truly cannot judge a book by its cover, as the drab and unappealing exterior holds a well equipped and nicely appointed little hockey arena that is a great building in which to watch hockey.