Simmsey column: Sorry iceSheffield, you’re not homely enough

Sheffield Arena - Steelers real home
Sheffield Arena - Steelers real home

Last night the Steelers faithful will have travelled to iceSheffield to watch Steelers take on the Fife Flyers, they would have shared one common goal – not one of them would have really wanted to have been there.

Nothing to do with Steelers and wanting to support their side. Nothing to do with the venue, we are so lucky in Sheffield to have this additional facility. The fact is though that iceSheffield isn’t home. It isn’t the Arena.

With crowds continuing to grow at the Arena the Steelers will shortly be facing the question they have faced a dozen times, yet is this the first time they will have really had to think long and hard about the answer.

The question is – do we/can play more Arena games? The reality of that question really should be are we prepared to play more midweek Arena games at the expense of a weekend game at iceSheffield.

When crowds were lower the thought of a mid week Arena game had owners and their bank mangers running for the hills.

I guess the big deciding point would be what guarantees, if any, the Arena could give on the number of weekend games, that’s always been the sticking point. What’s in the Arena’s – and I guess the city’s best interest - hasn’t always been the same as what’s in Steelers’ best interest.

I’m sure the Steelers could swallow a couple of mid week Arena fixtures if three or four more weekend fixtures could be found. It’s whether there is a desire to make it happen.

The gap has never been bigger between a night with the Steelers at the Arena and iceSheffield, the atmosphere, the show, the product. The game night experience. Fans now are used to that experience, they like it, they want more of it.

The product of the Elite league has never been greater, the speed, the four lines, the intensity and the professionalism of the clubs ensure that you are watching top level sport and are having a top level night out in a fantastic venue.

I’d love us to play every game at the Arena but understand the fiscal reality why at present that can’t happen. I’m sure it could happen if our landlord really wanted it to!

A warm welcome to Geoff Walker. Steelers managed to hold off clubs around Europe and the Elite League to secure the big man’s signature at about 11.30pm on Saturday. All being well he would have made his debut against Fife. After the release of Jesse Schultz and the arrival of Jace Coyle owner Tony Smith and coach Paul Thompson said they were looking for that additional body to bolster the squad. Several players could have been signed but waiting for the right guy, whilst risky, was the best policy.

The resume and recommendations suggest that this chap is the real deal and will add size and scoring.

Who sits out of Walker plays, and Walker will play: well the good thing for you and me is that we don’t have to make that decision, that’s Paul Thompson’s job.

A weekend on the road for Steelers, in Nottingham on Saturday and then in Edinburgh 24 hours later, three must win games in five days.

Then Tuesday 14th February Steelers will be back HOME at the Arena for the second leg of the Challenge Cup semi final, they lead 2-1 after the first leg.

The winners take on either Belfast or Cardiff in the final that will be played at Ice Arena Wales.

Last year the Steelers went out of this competition at this stage to this opponent. Is this our year?

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