Ontario Hockey League
 
Hershey Centre
Mississauga Steelheads
USRT VISIT: January 2004                                                                            

Mississauga is your typical Metro Toronto bedroom community -
skyscraping condos, manicured office parks, wide boulevards, and
the Hershey Centre is actually a complex of four community ice rinks,
the main one being once home of the Ice Dogs, but in a 2007
franchise shift now home to the St. Mike's Majors. The arena seats a
little over 5000, with a nice club lounge straddling the sideline above
the seating bowl. Hershey products sold in abundance here, and a
unique touch has a large portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hanging
between the Canadian and American flags.
 
Budweiser Gardens
London Knights
USRT VISIT: January, 2004

London's John Labatt Centre undoubtedly can claim the title of elite
venue in the OHL. Opened in 2002, this splendid arena sits right in
the middle of downtown London, a clean and vibrant city with plenty of
restaurants and shops and lots of activity going on in the city center.
This venue has the look and feel of a real NHL arena - two decks, four
sided video scoreboard, a ring of suites, nicely appointed
concourses, escalators, club lounge and even a team store called
"The Armoury". The John Labatt Centre was also the host venue for
the Memorial Cup tournament in 2005.
 
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie Otters                                                                                                 
USRT VISIT: December, 2004

Here in downtown Erie, their hockey arena and baseball stadium
share the same digs. Nicely manicured landscaping outside, even
the word "Otters" arranged in the hedgerows outside the arena, and
close proximity to downtown bars, restaurants and attractions. Tullio
Arena opened in 1983, and is definitely your "old school" type of
arena. Ordinary seating bowl with no centerpiece scoreboard... here
the scoreboards hang on the end zone walls along with murals of
their 2002 championship squad and other championship flags. Erie
hockey fans have really taken to their team, and fill this place with
loud and boisterous fans.  
 
Kitchener Auditorium
Kitnchener Rangers
USRT VISIT January 2005

Gold seats, then red seats, then blue seats in the suites, this classic
and historic venue has the look and feel of a smaller version of
Buffalo's old Aud. The Kitchener Aud was renovated in recent
seasons, adding a state of the art scoreboard and video board,
suites and an end zone restaurant and lounge overlooking the ice.
The community's long and proud hockey history is wonderfully
displayed throughout the venue, with delightful photos and exhibits in
the main lobby, a timeline of team photos in the concourse, and
championship banners and retired numbers tastefully displayed in
the rafters. Fan support here in Kitchener is huge.
 
TD Place
Ottawa 67's
USRT VISIT January 2007

This arena sports a unique look and feel in that it is entirely contained
in the underside of the bleachers of a football stadium. As a result the
entire roof slopes downward to the far side of the rink, and the bulk of
the seating straddles one sideline and the end zones. The team is
heavy on promotions - lots of mascots, cheerleaders, raffles, the
game here is almost secondary.  At 10,000 seats, this is a pretty big
venue by junior standards, and served as the original home of the
NHL Ottawa Senators for several seasons before their new arena
opened. The 67's are coached by the legendary Brian Kilrea, who is
starting his 4th decade with the team.
 
Sleeman Centre
Guelph Storm
USRT VISIT January, 2007

How about building a hockey venue in a space formally occupied by
an anchor department store in a shopping mall. This newer arena is
now the anchor of a historic retail facility called Old Quebec Street,
right in the center of downtown Guelph,and the arena is actually
attached to the mall concourse. The brightly lit seating bowl has a
main level and a small club level/suite porch above, and a nicely
appointed sports bar and restaurant straddles one sideline with
outstanding table side views of the playing surface.
 
Progressive Auto Sales Arena
Sarnia Sting                                                                                      
USRT VISIT: October, 2014

This is another one pf those suburban style community centers, a
90s style, 5000 seat rink surrounded by oceans of parking, the inside
with wide concourses, a restaurant straddling center ice with drink
rail and good viewing areas. The most noted retired number/banner
isn't that of a great player; it belongs to former NHL referee Kerry
Fraser, a celebrity who hails from these parts. And yes, they raised
his banner here with great pomp and ceremony.
 
Tribute Communities Centre
Oshawa Generals
USRT VISIT April, 2008

This is a shiny and gleaming arena in an area of downtown Oshawa
which is trying to make a comeback, and is the prototype of the new
wave of venues in this league - nice entry plaza, team store near the
main entrance, dramatic signage in the seating bowl showing the
sides of streets that face each side of the building. Along the main
concourse is an awesome Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame which is very
nicely done and full of great memorabilia. Nice touches and great fan
support make this a must see.
 
Peterborough Memorial Centre
Peterborough Petes                                                                           
USRT VISIT: December 2008

A building with many quirks; a franchise that is steeped in junior
hockey history; Queen Elizabeth smiling high up in the rafters. The
Peterborough Memorial Centre was rehabbed a few years back, and
at least half of the building is now assigned to some sort of premium
seating configuration - a club lounge straddles one sideline, boxes
the other, and a big restaurant with tableside viewing in the end zone.
Coaching icons Scotty Bowman and Roger Neilson are just two of the
banners of the many greats who have been part of this team.
 
Barrie Molson Centre
Barrie Colts                                                                                          
USRT VISIT: December 2008

This is one of the newer arenas in the OHL, having opened in 1996,
and its small size belies the cool stuff in this building. A very sharp
video board hangs at center ice, and a spacious and nicely appointed
restaurant called "Horsepower" offers a panoramic view of the
seating bowl, and is open as well on off days, providing an
architectural element to the arena itself. One thing Barrie fans are not
are noisy - polite applause more akin to a night at the opera than at a
hockey game.
 
Dow Event Center
Saginaw Spirit
USRT VISIT November, 2009

The Dow Event Center is about the only happenin’ thing one can find
in downtown Saginaw, a rundown city center with little in the way of
things to see or do. The building itself is a 70s era convention center
which has been rehabbed to include a dramatic rotunda style atrium
and a fresh look to the seating bowl. Fans here really embrace their
hockey, and the entire experience has a decidedly American flavor to
it.
 
WFCU Centre
Windsor Spitfires                                                                                     
USRT VISIT: November 2009

Sparkling. Opulent. Grand. Great words to describe the WFCU
Centre, located amidst gritty brownfields and industrial parks miles
outside the city core. Windsor’s new digs include a beautiful seating
bowl with steep seating pitches, private restaurants and suites,
community rinks located in the facility, and a loud and enthusiastic
fan base. Flat screens, tiled concourses and 21st century chic design
add to the ambience of the place.
 
Rogers K-Rock Centre
Kingston Frontenacs                                                                         
USRT VISIT: December. 2013         

This shiny new arena sits right in the center of a bustling and vibrant
downtown Kingston with a real urban and "college town" feel. K-Rock
Centre boasts large public spaces with in concorse entertainment,
an amply sized community sports hall of fame, and even a view of old
ruins of a military fort, located on a public square behind the building.
Their old venue is still open, just about a mile to the west of
downtown.
 
Bayshore Community Centre
Owen Sound Attack                                                                                 
USRT VISIT: February, 2014

To even get to Owen Sound, you will find no interstates, no
expressways, just two lane highways rolllng across the countryside,
and a town that has the friendliest and most outgoing citizens
anywhere. This community banded together to save their franchise
when it was in trouble, and the Owen Sound Attack is a source of
community pride, spirit and unity. A nice, old school arena with
excellent sightlines and modern new scoreboard.
 
Meridian Centre
Niagara Ice Dogs                                                                                 
USRT VISIT: December, 2014

They remind you here that even though they're named the "Niagara"
Ice Dogs, they are the franchise representing St. Catharines, a veiled
swie to their neighbors in Niagara Falls. The new arena in downtown
St. Catharines is connected to the downtown streets via a well placed
skybridge. Inside, premium seating, a concourse with views of the
ice, a nicely appointed sports museum in one end zone, and modern
touches make this a nice replacement for the old Jack Gatecliff Arena
 
First Ontario Centre
Hamilton Bulldogs                                                                                 
USRT VISIT: December, 2015

After a long stint in the American Hockey League, Hamilton is now an
OHL city. What was once called Copps Coliseum, right in the middle
of downtown, has een upgraded with new seats, scoreboard,
surround ribbon boards and a fresh new look for the concourses.
Hamilton still clings to an elusive dream to one day be an NHL city.
 
Powerade Centre
Brampton Battalion                                                                                      
USRT VISIT: January, 2005

The military theme is done ad nauseum here in Brampton, the
weird looking mascot is named "Sarge", the end zone bleachers
are decorated bunker style, bombs and air raid siren go off
continuously, and "one minute to cease fire" is the announcement
made for last minute of play.  All this might seem cute and cool
here in Brampton, but actually the Battalion shtick did not play well
with us. New arena tucked into a clean suburban office park,
Brampton's community rink is otherwise a pretty ordinary and
boring place. Oh - and plan for a long wait getting out of the lot after
the game as traffic plan here is horrendous.
 
Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Oshawa Generals                                                                                        
USRT VISIT: January, 2005

Talk about intimate! A 3000 seat rink with tight seats, narrow
concourse at the top of the bowl and a roof so low that more than a
few pucks have dinged the support beams and ceiling on
occasion, and the dents are there to prove it. What gives this venue
its signature? Bobby Orr! The greatest defenseman to ever play
the game is well remembered from his beginnings as a General,
and a lounge off the main lobby bearing his name is decorated
with great mementos and photos of Orr's storied career. Much
more hockey memorabilia covers the concourse walls, and team
championship banners adorn the ceiling along the corridors.   
Since our visit the arena has been replaced with the state of the art
General Motors Centre is downtown Oshawa.
 
Windsor Arena
Windsor Spitfires                                                                                      
USRT VISIT: October 2008

"The Barn", as this hallowed venue is affectionately know, saw its
last OHL game in December of 2008, as the Spitifires have moved
to spiffy new digs at the WFCU Centre. Windsor Arena shoehorns
in a little over 4000 fans in a very tight and congested seating bowl,
with very narrow concourses and few amenities or accroutements
for the fans to enjoy. Except - fans here a right on top of the action,
with a steep vertical pitch, and they are loud and passionate,
making for an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. Building
housed the NHL Red Wings for one season (1926-27)
 
Gatorade Garden City Complex
Niagara Ice Dogs                                                                                          
USRT VISIT: October, 2007

It is a creaky and ancient building - opened in the late 30s, and it's
been a few years since junior hockey was played here. But the old
"Jack Gatecliff Arena " is a piece of hockey heaven, with super tight
concourses, bench seating, old Memorial Cup championship
banners from their teams of a generation ago, a portrait of the
Queen and the stands packed full of fans. They have made some
improvements to the place - basic video screens, clubhouse
enhancements, etc. But with the way things are going in the OHL,
it's just a matter of time before the noise begins for a replacement
arena.
 
Yardmen Arena
Belleville Bulls                                                                                    
USRT VISIT: December 2013

It's called Yardmen Arena to honor the robust and strong railroad
history in Belleville. This is an ordinary old school arena, with tight
concourses, concessions in the corners, and is attached to a
larger athletic and events center with yet more ice sheets. The best
view of the action is from the second floor balcony, where fas are
perched right on top of the action. And the ice surface is European
sized.
FORMER VENUES