Whale


Detroit Whalers

Arena Name: Oak Park Ice Arena
Capacity:
Built: 1971
Address: 13950 Oak Park Blvd., Oak Park, MI, 48237-2077
Telephone No: (248) 542-9669
Last Game: 1996
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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OHL
Oak Park Ice Arena
Oak Park Ice Arena
What was the Arena Like?
Oak Park Ice Arena is a tiny, inadequate, brown-brick building in suburban Oak Park, Michigan. It's located on a quiet residential street in the middle of a community complex that also includes ball fields, a high school, public library, swimming pool, and many other community buildings. The arena is set far back from the road and announces its presence only with a large sign on the side of the building that says "Arena".

The building is tiny - St. Michael's Arena tiny. There is nothing announcing that the building might have possibly hosted any major events in the past. There isn't even a main entrance - just a small, steel door on the front of the building, painted brown. Once inside you find yourself in a small wooden lobby with a burning fireplace reminiscent of a Moose Lodge or something. The arena is in front of you, and once you enter through a heavy wooden door you find yourself in the worst arena in OHL history. There are only seats on one side of the ice, and even then these are plain wooden benches. The building feels ancient. The Zamboni garage is open and there is one tiny snack bar, and a big sign above the one end that says "Welcome to Oak Park Ice Arena: Home of the Honeybaked Hockey Club".

The Oak Park Ice Arena was only a last-ditch temporary home for the Whalers which shared hosting duties with the massive Palace of Auburn Hills for only one season. The team played 21 home games at the Palace and only 12 at Oak Park, however all of their playoff games were at Oak Park. By the next season the Whalers were moved on to Plymouth. To think that such a tiny, inadequate, run-down community rink hosted the OHL in the 1990's is absolutely astounding.

Eric West says:

In mentioning the Oak Park Arena used for some OHL Detroit Whalers games I'll agree it wasn't an OHL caliber facility. I wasn't working there at the time but it was sheer luck the Whalers were able to get any dates at the Palace. I worked at Oak Park from 1984 to 88. During this period Compuware Hockey Club had a great minor program from squirts to a Jr A team. While I worked there we hosted many top notch tournaments, hosting many big time Midget, Pee Wee & Bantam teams from the U.S. and Canada. We hosted the 1985 Major AAA Midget U.S. Nationals, the 1987 U.S. National Jr A finals, and in 1988, the U.S National AAA Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget AAA finals. We were awarded those events because of our fine operation. We had a reputation as a top notch arena. During this time the Detroit Red Wings used us as their practice facility from the 1986-87 season until the 1989-90 season. While I was there we had great ice, a clean facility and overall a good local rink.

By the way, the season the Whalers skated at the Palace I went to many games when they had double headers - featuring a Whalers game and a Detroit Vipers IHL game later. It was a pretty good way to spend a Sunday watching a lot of hockey. In the early 1970's there was another Detroit Jr Wings team that played in the SOJHL. Their home was the old Olympia, and they had some great crowds back then - often 10-11,000 a game, and it wasn't even Major A juniors! They had a fierce rivalry with Windsor at the time.

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Inside Oak Park Ice Arena
Oak Park Ice Arena

How To Get There

Oak Park Ice Arena is located on Oak Park Blvd. in suburban Oak Park, Michigan. To get there, take I-696 to exit 14 (10 Mile Road). Turn south on Coolidge Hwy and follow that south until you reach Oak Park Blvd. Turn right. The arena will be on your right.
What's it Used For Today?
Yet another in the saga of the homeless Whalers franchise, Oak Park was only used as a temporary facility in 1995-96, and then only when the Palace of Auburn Hills was unavailable. Owner Peter Karmanos quickly began rush-constructing his own building out in Plymouth, and the Whalers moved into the Compuware Sports Arena in time for the 1996-97 season.

Oak Park Ice Arena currently hosts community teams and is home to the Honeybaked hockey program, one of Michigan's top developmental leagues.

Feedback

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


 

 


Copyright Kevin Jordan 2002-07.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: February 17, 2007