Home of the Erie Otters
Erie is a city of about 100,000 that as a whole, definitely looks like it’s seen better days. Much like Saginaw and other manufacturing centres, Erie has seen a significant population decline over the last 20 years. However unlike Saginaw, Erie enjoys a very low crime rate. There are several run down residential and industrial districts just outside of the downtown core.
Some areas of downtown look old and forgotten but there is a lot of interesting architecture and it’s definitely worth a walk if you are an urban enthusiast.
Right next door to Tullio Arena is Jerry Uht Park, home of the Erie Sea Wolves of the Eastern League. The Sea Wolves are the Double-A minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Being an avid Detroit Tigers fan, it is quite likely that I will return to Erie within the next couple years to take in a ball game.
The exterior of the arena is a little odd looking, but I suppose it isn’t that different than other arena’s constructed in the early 80s.
The lobby and box office area is larger than many in the OHL and has some nice Otters memorabilia on display. About a month before I visited Tullio Arena, there was a fire destroying part of the lobby. The damage from the fire is still very evident and crews were at work reconstructing the damaged area. I’m told that the repairs are being done on the cheap because the entire lobby will soon be gutted and reconstructed in a major renovation project within the next few years.
The concourse stretches around 3/4ths of the building. The 4th side is all suites and is not open to the public. The area behind the ‘side’ seating areas is nice and wide, however the area behind the ‘end’ seating is far too narrow. This narrow area also serves as the main entrance into the concourse from the lobby and is far too narrow for this purpose.
Most of the seating at Tullio Arena is on the sides. There is very little seating on the ends. Each ‘side’ has only one men’s and one women’s washroom in the concourse. This is not nearly enough. The game we attended had an announced attendance in the 2800 range which is about 50% capacity. The washrooms were still lined up out the door. Additionally, the arena seemed to be filthy inside and not maintained very well. It definitely seemed to be a lot older than it actually is.
To provide pregame and intermission entertainment, there was what appeared to be a high school marching band perched in one corner of the arena. This band mainly performed instrumental versions of popular classic hard rock songs. I thought they sounded great. Hearing AC/DC’s Back In Black and Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train performed on traditional brass and woodwind instruments did a lot to add to the uniqueness of our experience.
The atmosphere of this arena is insane. There may have only been 2800 fans in attendance, but from the crowd noise, it sounded like there were at least 3 times that many. There were also many hecklers in attendance. One heckler who sat a few rows from me kept yelling about how Windsor isn’t a real city and that it’s just a Detroit suburb. It was all in good fun and although Kitchener’s fans have since taken the crown for being the loudest, I definitely hadn’t heard a crowd close to being this loud since the old days at Windsor Arena.
On March 18th, 2010, Joseph Lunger passed away. Joseph Lunger was a long time coach and organizer of athletics in Erie. Before the Otters game, a tribute video was played and a moment of silence was observed. However, during this moment of silence, some drunk idiot starts yelling out “Lets Go Otters! Lets play some hockey!!.” I felt that this was very disrespectful and classless. However, these people were the exception rather than the rule and the Otters fans around me seemed very annoyed by this drunk idiot as well.
Overall, the Erie fans and employees were extremely friendly and we had a great time in Erie. We will definitely return again one day.