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,” starring Paul Newman, was filmed inside the War Memorial and around the city of Johnstown.
It’s hard to overstate Johnstown’s enthusiasm for hockey. From 1987-2010, one of the prime tenants was professional hockey team, the Johnstown Chiefs, a member of the ECHL. When that team left for Greenville, South Carolina, the Wheeling Nailers played some games in Johnstown. But fortunately, the War now has a full-time hockey tenant — the Johnstown Tomahawks, a North American Hockey League team. The War’s ice is also often occupied by local youth and high school hockey teams. In fact, in 2015 Johnstown earned the title of first-ever Kraft Hockeyville USA after a major community campaign, an effort that garnered some $150,000 in prize money to fund needed renovations at the arena.
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.
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 is open to the public.
This article was written with the help of Judith Maucieri Coposky, a Johnstown-area software engineer and dedicated Johnstown Chiefs fan.