Cambria County War Memorial Arena
Each year hundreds of thousands of people pass through the doors of the Cambria County War Memorial, located in downtown Johnstown, PA, near the base of the world famous Johnstown Inclined Plane. Serving as the city’s major sporting and entertainment venue, the arena is host to a variety of events, from concerts to conventions to sporting events.
From its first days, the War Memorial has had a part in professional hockey, serving as home ice for the Johnstown Jets through the late 1970s. In 1977 the arena was introduced to an international audience when parts of the cult-classic hockey film “Slap Shot”, staring Paul Newman, was filmed inside the War Memorial and around the city of Johnstown. Today one of the prime tenants remains a professional hockey team, the Johnstown Chiefs, a member of the ECHL, and the lone remaining original team in the franchise. When the ice is not reserved for the Chiefs or an event it is often filled with local youth and high school hockey teams.
The War Memorial, which can seat approximately 3800 people within the arena, offers several luxury box seats, an upstairs lounge area, has an overhead hanging press box and available floor seating depending upon the event.
Since opening its doors on October 16th, 1950, the War Memorial has hosted numerous rock concerts, shows and political rallies. As recently as 2004, the arena was the host venue for President George W. Bush when he visited Johnstown, PA during his first term in office.
While the majority of visitors to the Cambria County War Memorial are attending an entertainment event it is important to remember the primary purpose for the arena. Spawned by the local Lions Club, the War Memorial was built to honor those who lost their lives in World War II. The entry lobby is lined with plaques listing the names of the active duty soldiers from Cambria County that died in war and a small dedication room off to the side of the lobby that is open to the public.
This article was written with “Do Johnstown!” contributing author Judith Maucieri Coposky, a Johnstown-area software engineer and dedicated Johnstown Chiefs’ fan.