I made a trip over to West Salem Saturday to watch the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks take on the host Panthers in the brand-new Panther Den.
The rink features an Olympic-size sheet along with several amenities that have yet to be completed. There will be a gymnastics training room, a space for the athletic trainers and a nice size lobby with concessions. Outside, softball and soccer fields will complete the complex.
All-in-all, a very nice facility for West Salem, a community of just over 5,000 people.
But the part that I was most interested in was the 'media area.'
Built above the scorer's table, the Panther Den media area has room for about 10 people. When I was there, the crew consisted of a couple of moms taking pictures, a TV station video guy, a newspaper photographer, team managers, and me. Sight lines are good, with no netting in the way.
Not perfect, but not bad. Kudos to West Salem.
That said, listed below are 18 other rinks that I have either gone to a lot over the years or have been to recently. Grades and comments included...
|Hobbs||Eau Claire||A+||The ultimate!||WA, SL|
|Cornerstone Rink 1||Ashwaubenon||A-||Good space, but crowded||WA, SL, CR|
|KB Willett||Stevens Point||A-||Spacious, good sight lines||WA, SL, CR|
|SWC Rec Center||Wis Rapids||A-||Lots of room on mezzanine||WA, SL, CH|
|Omni Center||Onalaska||B||Elevated, good work area||L, WA|
|FDL Blue Line||Fond du Lac||B||Too far away, otherwise OK||TF, WA|
|Greenheck||Schofield||B||Use ladder to shoot over glass||L, GP, FP|
|Ice Hawks||Stevens Point||B||Good press area, can be crowded||SL, CR|
|Community Center||Waupun||B-||Need to climb tough ladder||L, SL|
|The Dome||Eagle River||B-||Shoot from stands||SL|
|Tri-County||Neenah||C-||See Greenheck comment||L, FP|
|Milt Lunda Arena||Black River Falls||C-||See Greenheck comment||L, FP|
|Cornerstone Rink 3||Ashwaubenon||C-||See Greenheck comment||FP|
|John Gornick||Hudson||C-||See Greenheck comment||L, FP|
|World Famous Expo||Waupaca||C-||See Greenheck comment||L, FP|
|Ozaukee Ice||Mequon||C-||Top of stands, too far away||TF|
|Marathon Park||Wausau||D||Have to shoot from penalty box||PB, FP|
|Mosinee Ice||Mosinee||D||Tiny elevated stand on one end||TF, CR|
|Sun Prairie Ice||Sun Prairie||D||Nothing but netting||N|
|TF||Too far away from action|
|L||Need to stand on ladder or climb ladder|
|N||Netting in the way|
|WA||Good work area|
|SL||Good sight lines|
|PB||Have to shoot from penalty box|
|CH||Too many kids running around|
|GP||Great people, helpful|
|CR||Too crowded at times|
Don't get mad if your rink has a poor rating; it probably isn't your fault.
When I go to games, I like to have an area that is somewhat uncluttered where I can take game notes and pics from. We are there to give you coverage and the better the place we have to work, the better the coverage will be.
So, here's the deal: you can improve your media area. Might take a little work and a little cash, but think about how happy the press people will be!
Here are some pointers:
My idea of a perfect press area is Eau Claire Hobbs. There is room for about 20 people, there is a large 'counter top' which can accommodate all the working press, there are comfortable chairs to sit on, and usually no one is running around that doesn't need to be in the area. The sight lines are great, and one of the best radio guys (Mike Sullivan) is there to offer insight and maybe even buy a Diet Coke for you.
That's about it. You want me to come to your game? Make sure you take good care of me so I can get plenty of great pics and not miss any action.
See you at the rink!!