EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- If you have plans to check out playoff hockey at Hobbs Ice Center this weekend, you're advised to get a move on as a packed parking lot is leaving good spots and seats a premium.
The Regis-McDonell-Bloomer co-op is taking on Memorial at 7 p.m. Friday and with 1,600 fans expected at the sold out game and another 1,800 fans there tomorrow for Blugolds playoff, the arena is prepared to take on the crowd.
"We'll kick off with the section finals that were moved here. We had the available ice time with the two local schools participating in that," said manager Stu Taylor. "We certainly wanted to hos this game and appreciated the WIAA giving us this opportunity."
He said this weekend's games will pack the house.
"Tomorrow is the first Blugold men's playoff game and the first time they've hosted a playoff game since 1994," said Taylor. UW-Eau Claire will face UW-River Falls.
Taylor said the building can hold around 2,000 people.
“We have to keep in mind of all the staff, players, coaches, and administrative people working the events,” he said.
And thanks to recent renovations, the building can take on this weekend’s large crowds.
“It's just a great venue now to host these types of games and to have the community be able to be a part of this in Eau Claire,” said Taylor.
And when up to 2,000 people are expected, the fire department plays a role as well.
“They generally will give us a number of what they're comfortable with, they just instruct us to make sure we keep emergency exits open when we setup temporary bleachers, that’s obviously one thing we look at make sure we're not blocking those,” said Taylor.
And workers will keep a head count for crowd control.
“We know the number of tickets sold and how many people are coming in and out of the building,” said Taylor.
What it all boils down to is earlier the better. He said to come early enough to get a good parking spot and seat.
If the main parking lot is full, there is side street parking.