With a full set of renovations, Tullio Arena would be among the best buildings in the OHL. Right now, it's somewhere in the middle. Erie's tremendous atmosphere and decent seating makes for a great gameday experience, however the inadequate washroom facilities, poor maintenance, and the OHL's worst scoreboard and sound system unfortunately drag the mark down.
Architecture: Grade B
Tullio Arena is a strange 1980's design, and puts a visitor in the frame of mind of Joe Louis Arena. The building is mainly done up in aluminum and yellow brick, and looks both strange and classy. The mark is also dragged up by the incidental presence of Jerry Uht Park next door, where the Erie Seawolves AA baseball team plays. The side of the arena is given over to ads for the ballpark, and while the effect is very, very odd, it works somehow.
Interior Layout and Design: Grade B
Erie has a decent enough concourse system and traffic moves relatively well. The main entrance is directly behind the one end zone and spreads out down both sides. The mark is lowered by the fact that the concourse is "U"-shaped - you can't move 360 degrees around the building - but overall the layout isn't bad.
Seating: Grade B
Erie's seats are beginning to show their age, but they're all padded nicely. Views are good too, the building is laid out with two massive grandstands along each side which both face directly forward. There is also a small section of end zone seats in one end. The building's massive grandstands make it feel larger than it is, and unlike in some OHL cities, it feels like you're "somewhere" in Erie.
Scoreboard: Grade (D-)
Note: Erie has installed a new video scoreboard, which I have not yet made the trip to reevaluate.
The OHL's worst scoreboard, bar none. There is no centre-ice board in Erie. Instead, the team places two small boards at each end of the building. If you're not used to the system, then checking to see how much time is left on a penalty, for example, is not just a quick glance but a few seconds' worth of searching. This is bad enough in itself, but you can barely hear announcements and music in Erie because the sound system sounds like the audio is being broadcast in a mailbox underwater somewhere out in Lake Erie. Please, Erie, buy a new scoreboard and sound system!
Arena Employees: Grade C
The "C" grade is actually a tremendous disservice to the friendly, charming ushers in Erie, who are "A+" material if there ever were any. Security is also top-notch, allowing fans to cheer as much as they like but keeping a tight lid on inappropriate behaviour. So why the low grade? Erie is the most anal team in the league for enforcing the camera ban, and it comes out here. Big signs are posted on every door in Erie - "No Cameras Allowed in the Tullio Arena". Typically, the ushers tend to sympathise with visiting photographers, but the ridiculous team policy and the method in which it is enforced come out here. "A+" employees mix with a misguided "D-" camera policy to produce a reluctant grade of "C".
Facilities: Grade C
Tullio Arena's downtown location should mean little parking, but there is enough in the area to make it work. The building could use both more concessions and more washrooms, but the existing facilities are adequate. The grade is dragged down by the dirt - again, renovations would help, but the Tullio feels like it needs a good scrubbing and a new paintjob.
Atmosphere: Grade A+
The OHL's loudest building, bar none. Erie fans get rowdy and shout and heckle and cheer and chant and do all of the things that good fans do. Meanwhile, the Tullio has no sound-dampening tiles at all, and the hard surfaces reflect and amplify the noise. The result is the loudest building I have ever visited for hockey. Congratulations on your A+, Erie, you deserve it.