As the hockey season is coming to a close, there are only a few games left and we wanted to highlight a minor league, metro Atlanta area team-the Gwinnett Gladiators. The Gwinnett Gladiators play at the Gwinnett Center right off of highway 85 and about half an hour from downtown Atlanta. The Gladiators are the only hockey team in the area. Atlanta no longer is home to the NHL hockey team, the Thrashers, making Gladiator games the perfect way both visitors and Atlanta dwellers have a chance to watch hockey. Atlanta is filled with transplants like ourselves and luckily there is a way to still catch a game even without a professional team. In general Atlanta is not a huge hockey or ice skating city, so this one of the only options we have found thus far for those to be a part of the skating culture.
One of the biggest frustrations we have experience in moving from St. Louis to Atlanta is the traffic, so we are always very aware of staying within the perimeter or the potential for extreme traffic. Since we live in the city of Atlanta we had to venture out of the perimeter to head to the game and were a bit nervous as to how long it would take us to get there with the evening traffic. Luckily traffic wasn’t too bad since the game was later in the evening and most traffic we experienced was simply waiting to turn into the parking lot (which was nothing compared to professional sports traffic). The Gwinnett Center has easy accessible parking and is a nice small little arena.
Tickets were fairly inexpensive and we bought them as part of a group rate, which helped to decrease the price. Another way to ensure your tickets are cheaper is to buy them ahead of time (it saves you several dollars). Our tickets were $18.00 each, but we saw other nights where it was cheaper. We both agreed though that the prices seemed a bit high for a minor league game (considering our NBA Atlanta Hawks tickets were the same price). The price difference may reflect the popularity the Gwinnett Gladiators seem to generate. Unlike other minor league team games we have been to the Gwinnett Gladitors games were quite packed with visitors. A plethora of fans appeared to be rather loyal to the team as they were decked in Gladiator gear and were talking about players stats and the team’s history.
The faithful fan base is a bit of shocker once you see the quality of the hockey team itself. For those who grew up playing hockey or were avid enthusiasts of professional hockey, remember the Gladiators are a minor league team. The hockey skills and even skating are often lacking. If you are simply at the game for a fun night, an introduction to hockey, a night out with friends, a family outing, an event for large groups, a bit of hockey, or a dose of a sporting event, the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey will make for a nice evening. Throughout the game were various events and promotions that the audience seemed to really enjoy-including an animal toss onto the ice. Between periods an ACDC cover band played, (which our group found quite dreadful, but a lot of other visitors seemed to actually really enjoy it) providing visitors with further entertainment. The evening itself was a fun night out with friends and allowed us to experience another Atlanta attraction. There is still a few games left in the season, so if you want a fairly cheap evening full of hockey and entertainment, the Gwinnett Gladiators might be ideal!
Side Note: The Gwinnett Gladiators are an affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, so if you like the Coyotes, this may be a great way to spot out potential players!