Two visits are in the books to the Corel Centre... the first through a harrowing snowstorm
and whiteout conditions on the trek from Montreal to Ottawa, while the second trip with
clear driving, but temperatures plunging to as low as -19 degrees fahrenheit and not going
over the 0 mark. But the journey here is a worthwhile one. The beautiful capital city of
Canada, wonderful attractions to visit in the city, and a pretty good hockey city with
passionate and knowledgable hockey fans.
Getting to the venue
The Corel Centre opened its doors in early 1996. Originally called the Palladium, it is located
about 15 miles west of downtown Ottawa, literally in the middle of nowhere. There is but
one way to get to the arena, and that is to take Highway 417 out of the city. Although this is
an expressway, be prepared for massive delays at rush hour; poorly designed entrance and
exit ramps just add to the congestion. Unfortunately there are few road alternatives so
allow enough time to get to the arena. The Corel Centre is right off the arena with plenty of
ramps and roadways to take you right into the parking lots.
Outside the venue
If you are looking to combine your hockey experience with your lumber and hardware
shopping experience, then boy are you in luck! Right next door to the Corel Centre is a
Home Depot. That's it... a Home Depot. And a lot of empty space. Plenty of surface parking
surrounds the building, with the parking fee fixed at Cdn$10.
The arena and concourses
Most fans enter the building on the east side of the building, where there is a large outdoor
plaza laid out with mosaic brick pavement. A modest sized atrium lobby greets you as you
enter the building. The 100 level doors are straight ahead, and grand staircases are to the
left and right, and that leads you to the main concourse in the arena, serving the 200 and
To make up for the lack of adjacent attractions, there are many amenities right in the arena,
offering a wide array of dining choices before and after the game. Restaurants inside the
building include a Hard Rock Cafe, a sports bar called Marshy's just off of the main atrium, a
sandwich buffet called the Penalty Box high up in the skybox level, and a brewpub called
Silver 7' s, located in a gondola above the 200/300 concourse. That is where you can find
the radio post game show broadcast live from the arena. We hung out at Marshy's both
times and were surprised at the number of people who stick around for some food and
libations after the game - packed crowd, live DJ and plenty of video screens to catch the
In the concourses, the presence of colorful ad panels, concession marquees and flags
dressed up what would otherwise be very drab public areas.
What this building lacks in nice concourses, is more than made up with a sleek, modern yet
intimate seating bowl. The arena bowl is laid out in three levels, with the club seats located
in the center 100 level seats and the suites at the top of both the 100 and 200 levels. The 4
sided center scoreboard is augmented with a 360 degree digital LED board along the first
balcony. The Sens present some great special effects on these boards. Along the second
balcony are backlit ad panels and dot matrix information boards. Most of the ad panels here
are sponsored by Ottawa's huge and booming high technology companies.
The Senators as we now know them have two division title banners hanging. A unique
situation here as they also have nine Stanley Cup banners hanging from the days of the
original Ottawa Senators that existed in the early 20th century until the early 30's. Very nice
touch as the roadtrippers love franchises that celebrate their history. Also the number 8
hangs in honor of Frank Finnigan, a star of those early Senators.
The usual ballpark dreck is augmented with local chains such as Pizza Pizza and Tim
Horton's Donuts. The main team store is called Sensations, and is on the ground floor right
off of the main atrium lobby. One of the cool satellite team stores, at the top of the grand
staircase, is called "The Originals", and features merchandise from the original six teams
and retro Sens merchandise and memorabilia. Very nice!
The 100 level is at ground level (the playing surface is some 30 feet below grade). This
concourse is designated the Air Canada Club, and instead of concrete floors, here you will
find terrazzo tile floors and teak ceiling accents. Again, lots of dining options here..."The
Senate Club" below ground level offering a buffet, the Air Canada Club restaurant with
intimate booth seating and picture windows to the concourse, a Rickards Brew Pub and
another bar called Frank Finnigans with some great sports displays on the walls. On the
north side is a private entrance to the arena and valet parking is available.
Hat tricks, assists, penalties...
Hat trick - to the BEST rendition of the national anthem in the four sports and something not
to be missed. That is the singing of the Canadian anthem by a local icon named Constable
Lyndon Slewidge. Dressed in his uniform, he booms "Oh Canada" in English mixed with
French, and it is all grand enough to give one chills. The fan interaction kind of reminded
us of the days when Kate Smith did her rendition of "God Bless America" at the old
Spectrum in Philadelphia.
Assist - Ottawa fans follow the NFL, and in particular our Buffalo Bills. Cable systems here in
Ottawa pick up the American stations out of Buffalo and Rochester, so Bills games are a
regular staple on Sundays here in Ottawa. We met more than a few fans on both visits who
make the trip to Orchard Park with regularity. C'mon down and visit us anytime, Ottawafan!
Hat Trick- to a hilarious beer commercial that appeared during a break in the action. An
arrogant American in his office rips on his Canadian coworker about Canada with little
verbal jabs and digs about the weather, curling, the accent, and just about anything else
Canadian. Finally the Canadian reaches the boiling point and reacts in a truly Canadian
fashion, brawling- hockey style....reaching over his back, grabbing the back of his
jacket(jersey) and throwing punches underneath at his midsection. I AM CANADIAN!!!!
Assist- Finnigan's, Marshy's, Silver Sevens, note the common theme to the Corel Centre's
dining facilities. All are named after noted people and clubs associated with Ottawa's
storied hockey history.
Assist- DID YOU KNOW???? The inventor of the great game of basketball- Dr. James
Naismith is from the Ottawa area!! His name stands out amongst others at a display
showcasing the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.
Penalty- Can't we ever come here on a normal weather day!!! If it's not driving through 3 feet
of snow on an April day, then it is walking out of here and hopping into the car with the
thermostat at -20F.....
Hat Trick- to CBC Radio for having us on the Peter Brown show, we did the taping during an
intermission and after a few technical glitches everything went well.....thank you CBC!!
The major disappointment is that this venue is located so very far away from the city. Ottawa
is such a wonderful place to visit, plenty to see and do being the seat of government, and
lots of nightlife, shopping and dining in the center of the city itself. How cool would it be if
the Corel Centre were in the middle of all the action. But that being said, we give plusses to
the arena for its great seating bowl, the myriad of attractions and restaurants to serve the
fans, and last but certainly not least, THE CONSTABLE.
Like Buffalo, the franchise is going through financial turmoil, and is looking for new
ownership and stability in an environment where outrageous player salaries far outstrip the
revenue streams in the sport. And like Buffalo, these fans deserve a better fate than to
have their franchise torn away from their city. Lastly, never discount the hockey experience
in ANY Canadian city... Ottawa hangs with the best of them!
Fan Support 7
Concourses/fan comfort 7
Bonus: Constable Slewidge 3.5; Marshy's Bar 1