ECHL: What Happened to The Toledo Sports Arena?

Photo via Toledo Walleye

The Toledo Sports Arena was a small arena with one level of seating for hockey. The renovations needed were many and the restrooms needed an upgrade. However, this was the arena that housed many successful hockey teams, many big-name concerts, and pro wrestling shows. The arena was not much to look at, but the history and friendships made outweighed the negatives.

Toledo Sports Arena has a character and history.

The Toledo Sports Arena was known for its unique qualities. The burnt popcorn smell when entering the arena, the fog-covered ice surface created by the Zamboni, and the low glass around the boards were some things that cannot be recreated by many arenas. Several former NHL players made appearances in the ECHL like Scott Gomez (Alaska Aces), Arturs Irbe (Johnstown Chiefs), Daniel Berthiaume (Roanoke Express), Jody Shelley (Johnstown Chiefs), and Matt Ellis (Detroit Red Wings) played during the league’s hay day, certainly made their presence felt after the game, signing autographs for those who asked.

The Toledo Sports Arena was a 5,230-seat multi-purpose arena at 1 Main Street in Toledo, Ohio. The arena also accommodated 6,500 for concerts, 4,400 for stage shows, and small concerts but had a capacity of 8,250 for pro wrestling and boxing events. The arena opened on November 13, 1947, closed on April 28, 2007, and demolished on August 7, 2007.

Pro hockey was the main draw, seeing several Toledo-based teams from the International Hockey League (IHL) and ECHL. The Toledo Mercurys (IHL 1947-1962), Toledo Blades/ Hornets (IHL 1974-1986), and the Toledo Storm (ECHL 1991-2007) occupied space and were successful on the ice with many championships and division banners. The concerts were also a big draw, including shows from Kid Rock, Tool, Lil Wayne, Daughtry, and Nine Inch Nails.

Brad MacDonald, a local promoter, held the arena’s final event on April 28, 2007, before it was demolished. The event was known as “Extreme Tough Man” and it held a resemblance to a UFC event. Fans of the arena knew it was going to happen, but all of the memories and friendships were gone in a matter of minutes.

Out with the old and in with the new.

The ECHL granted Toledo a new franchise that would be later named the Toledo Walleye. They would take the ice two years after the Storm’s last game, and this moment could not come soon enough for hockey fans beginning in the 2009-10 season. The city would break ground on October 1, 2007, and the arena would open on October 3, 2009. The arena would cost $105 million but would leave the city and hockey fans stunned at the new arena. The new arena was almost double the size of the Toledo Sports Arena.

Formally known as the Lucas County Arena, the Huntington Center is an 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena in downtown Toledo, Ohio. For concerts, the arena holds 4.784 for half-house shows, 5,903 for 3/4 full, 7,286 for end-stage, 9,341 for center stage, 8,000 for basketball, and 7,389 for hockey but 8,300 for standing room.

The Huntington Center opened with comedian Jeff Dunham and has welcomed many concerts, pro wrestling, and other events. However, once again, hockey is the main draw and continues to produce revenue. The Toledo Sports Arena was a once-in-a-lifetime arena that only so many people got the chance to experience. The arena will be missed, but the Huntington Center is the new arena that fans are flooding into to experience one of the best hockey teams in the league week after week.

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