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The USHL Arena & Travel Guide - Edge Ice Arena, Chicago Steel

Chicago Steel

Chicago Steel

Arena Name: Edge Ice Arena
Capacity: 2600
Built: 1999 (main rink)
Address: 735 E. Jefferson St., Bensenville, IL 60105
Telephone No: (630) 594-1111
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 2000-2001
USHL Championships: none
Anderson Cup Championships: none
Colors: Red, Black & White
Official Web Site:
Unnoficial Sites: none
Former Arena: none
Occasional Arena: United Center
Google Satellite: Click Here

Edge Ice Arena
Edge Ice Arena
What's the Arena Like?
The Edge Ice Arena is the smallest of the full-time rinks in the USHL, and if it feels like a practice rink, that�s because it is.

The arena�s main use is as the practice home of the Chicago Blackhawks, who are the main tenant of the arena. The Hawks used to be housed in the east end of the building, but vacated this area for the west side of the building to practice on an NHL-sized sheet (the east sheet is the size of the ice at the old Chicago Stadium), the one that serves as the game ice at the Edge. Because of this, the Steel have a noticeably long walk to the arena for games, but do have some of the best dressing room facilities in the league and great access to their practice ice due to its former use as that of the Hawks. The Blackhawks use of the arena is also the reason for the goaltending trapezoid and NHL creases on the ice at the Edge.

Once through the doors of the Edge fans find themselves in a serviceable but small lobby with concessions spread throughout. The USHL Arena Guide heartily recommends the hot chocolate, which is the best in the league. These concessions are the only ones in the arena, there are none once entering the seating area. Fans turn right in the lobby and climb a set of stairs near the small pro shop to enter the seating bowl. Once in the arena proper, fans are on a wide concourse above the ice and seating. The concourse does not spread all the way around the rink, covering only half (three-fourths when the suite extension is counted) of the seating area, which is not a problem since the Steel have been mired with attendance woes since entering the league.

The Edge has a low, corrugated ceiling which helps to keep noise in the building but also puts the rafters and scoreboard in a precarious position, with both regularly being smacked by pucks during the games. The Edge has between seven and eight (depending on where you are) rows of blue bleacher seating. There is a handicapped seating area behind the south net. They are not particularly comfortable, and there is not enough legroom for a normally-sized man. They are pitched well, and the arena offers good views all around. Along the concourse, there is a level of bar tables and stools which are also general admission and offer more comfortable seating and occasionally better views.

The bottom row at the Edge is immediately behind a walkway that fans use to get back down to the lobby once they have entered for the first time that is roughly level with the top of the boards, putting the whole ice surface below the seating area. This, combined with kids who are uninterested in watching the game and more interested in running around can cause views to be partially blocked, especially if the puck enters a corner. Also, the woes of sitting in the bottom few rows of any arena, such as seeing to the opposite corner on the same side you are on, are magnified at the Edge since every seat is so near. There is a row of 10 SkySuites above the ice on the west side, which also contains the press box. They are generally comfortable and have good amenities, especially when compared to the rest of the seating area. Some are usually available for single game rental and offer the best way to see a Steel game, since they are the highest seats in the rink.

If you are sitting on the south end of the arena, prepare for your ears to hurt since nearly every speaker in the PA system in this area of the building is blown. Ouch.

In general, the Edge cannot shed the feeling of its true purpose as a practice rink. There is little atmosphere to speak of, although that has gotten better in 2007-2008 with changes in the front office. Still, there is nothing that makes the Edge escape the fact that it is a good minor hockey rink near the airport. The Edge and its crowds are too small for the USHL, falling well-below the Tier I minimum 3,000 capacity and 2,000 average attendance, but its location in the biggest city in the Midwest and proximity to O�Hare airport make having a team near Chicago an attractive option for the league.
Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace the Edge Ice Arena.
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
If you�re going to the Edge Ice Arena as an away fan, don�t be worried about any sort of hassle from Steel fans. There are very few die-hards and those that do exist are generally very well-dispositioned. Be warned though that the Edge sporadically will not allow opposing fans to bring noise makers into the arena, especially when the visiting contingent is large or if it�s a big game such as in the playoffs. Generally, the rink is empty enough that some well-timed cheers and loudness will make the Edge a home away from home for away fans, as Lincoln and Waterloo fan trips have shown over the years.

Intimidation Factor: LOW

How To Get There

Located near O'Hare airport, the Edge is tucked into a residential neighborhood and is surrounded by parkland and public works.

From I-290, exit York Rd. Jefferson Street is the second light after entering Bensenville (past Grand Ave.). Arena will be on the left

Eastbound on the 417, please take exit 120 (Kent Street). Make a right at the second street (Arlington), then another right at the next light (Bank Street).

Look for the floodlights.

Parking is on-site and free. There are paved lots to the north and west of the building. Overflow parking may be used, located to the south of the west parking lot.
Inside the Edge Ice Arena
Edge Ice Arena
Admission Prices
All seats at the Edge are $5 unless a promotion is going on.
Franchise History
The Steel began play in 2000 after the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks were bought and moved to Bensenville. The Edge is the only home the team has had, but games have been played on rare occasions at the United Center or on one of the Edge's axillary pads.

Since moving to Chicago the Steel have struggled at the gate but have had a bit more success on the ice. Steve Richmond and A.J. Toews led the team in its early years. While the squads were not the best in the USHL, they did feature several players who would go on to successful pro careers, including Brett Lebda, Richmond�s son Danny Richmond, and Tom Gilbert.

Wil Nichol led the team to the East Division title in 2003-2004 before the team bowed out of the playoffs in the first round to Waterloo. The next year saw a third place finish but a big series win, as the Steel came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Hawks in round one before being swept by Cedar Rapids. Nichol was fired after the season and replaced by Chris Imes.

Imes led the team through its biggest valleys. The team was a disaster at the gate during his year and a half at the helm and the team wasn�t much better. Despite some of the better talent in the league, Imes took the squad to a last place finish in 05-06 and had them in the same spot in 06-07. Jason Koehler took over the GM duties and Imes was gone before 2007 broke. Steve Poapst finished the year, and while the team showed signs of improving, Koehler had left the roster too depleted to make much noise in the spring.

This year has been a renaissance for hockey in Chicago. While the Blackhawks are enjoying their most popular run in nearly two decades, the Steel have been improving exponentially as well. With Koehler sacked near the beginning of the year, attendance began to pick up and is now as healthy as it has been in years and the on-ice product improved significantly in Poapst�s first full season. A former Blackhawk and the only coach in the USHL who played in the NHL, Poapst has rejuvenated the franchise.
Green Bay and Chicago are natural rivals stemming from the NFL rivalry between the two cities, but the USHL rivalry is not as strong as the one the Steel have with Waterloo. While the Black Hawks would not call the Steel their main rival, the Steel would say that the Hawks are theirs. The two teams have met in the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, and tensions have run high at both the Edge and Young Arena, especially when the Clacksons were with Chicago.
Place to Eat Near the Edge Ice Arena
There is a multitude of shopping and eating options just minutes away in downtown Chicago, but if staying near the rink is more your style then there are options as well. Mamma Maria's at the intersection of York and Jefferson is the best of these, as there is usually a contingent of fans there before and after the game. Chicago style pizza is a must, but there are other delicious options as well.

A bit further south down York Rd. is a stretch of typical fast food options, featuring Subway, Wendy's and McDonalds along with local favorite The Spot.

Downtown Elmhurst a bit further south but still within reasonable distance to the rink offers up Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle, Egg Harbor Cafe (for breakfast) and local spots like the Rainbow Cafe. If you go further down York Rd. there is another Mamma Maria's at York and Vallette.

Northwest of the arena, near Rte. 83 and Irving Park Rd. is Asti's Deli, which is open only until the evening hours but serves up a mean chicken parm sandwich. Portillo's is southwest of the arena at Rte. 83 and North Ave. and is famous for their hot dogs.


If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at and I'll update the guide.

Copyright � Rob Jaskua 2008.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: February 14, 2008