Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (map it)
33800 King Rd
Abbotsford, BC V2S 7P2
Year Opened: 2009
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Katie Lawrence, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre opened on May 10, 2009, after about a year and a half of construction began. It is home to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL and the home of the BC Angels of the Lingerie Football League beginning with the 2012-2013 season. The venue can seat 7,046 people, with the option to expand seating to up to 8,500, and has 300 club seats, 15 boxes and 22 suites.
The Heat moved to Abbotsford for the 2009-2010 AHL season, and are the western-most team in the league. The Heat have gone to the playoffs in two out of their first three seasons in the Fraser Valley, making it to the second round both times.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The AESC has a fantastic selection of food that rivals that of the arenas of top professional teams. There was your usual stadium fare - hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, French fries and nachos, as well as some unique choices that I've never seen before at a sports game - a cupcake stand, pierogies, spring rolls, Vietnamese sub sandwiches and wontons. There was also a Panago pizza stand at one end.
When it comes to beverages, pop, beer, wine, liquor and Slush Puppies were sold. There was also a giant Sleeman brewery stand behind one of the goals, as well as a Van Houtte coffee cart.The prices were about the same as you'd find anywhere else, but the variety of choices available is very impressive and unexpected for an AHL arena.
With just the one bowl, the fans are all close to the ice, and there are boxes circling the general seating area, which gives the arena a cozy feeling. The scoreboard hangs over the ice and is completely updated and digital, which is fantastic. With the friendly staff and dedicated fans, Heat games are a great way to spend a night out.
The AESC shares a parking lot with the University of the Fraser Valley, so there are a lot of students living in the area, as well as a large retirement community. It's right off the Trans-Canada Highway, but is fairly close to downtown Abbotsford, just a five-minute drive. On the other side of the building from UFV are Phoenix Restaurant and Finnigan's Pub, which are very popular on game days. There are also a couple fast food restaurants in the area, if you're looking to eat before heading to the game.
Placing the Calgary Flames' farm team practically in the Vancouver Canucks' turf may have hurt the Heat early on, but the people of Abbotsford are beginning to embrace their AHL boys. Fans still wear their Canucks jerseys to the game, but a lot of Heat paraphernalia is mixed into the crowd. The stadium is, on average, about half full, according to Heat staff, but the fans make up for the lack of attendance in noise. In an area passionate about hockey, the Heat's link to the Flames falls into the background and the fans cheer on their hometown team.
The arena is fairly easy to find from the highway, just a round-a-bout and a left turn after the McCallum Road exit, but it is quite a drive from Vancouver. On a good day, it would take about an hour and a half to get there from downtown Vancouver, but with the games usually at night around 7:00pm, making it to the game in rush hour takes a lot longer.
Tickets to a Heat game go for $17-$42, depending on where you want to sit. The price increases the closer you get to centre ice, and since there's only a lower bowl, the view is good from all vantage points. That is a lot cheaper than trying to get into a Canucks game for sure, and since the AHL is one level below the NHL, the hockey is very good quality. If the Heat played closer to where I live, I'd definitely be attending the games more often.
The mascot is a red-tailed hawk, a species native to the Fraser Valley. He is named Hawkey and is much less scary looking than the Canucks' Fin.
The Heat have many themed-games, like Country Night, Punjabi Night and Fan Appreciation Night. There are also weekly events, such as Loonie Toonie Dog and Brew Fridays, and pre-game pancakes and facepainting on Sundays.
There is a focus on making the games exciting for kids, with a Kid's Cam segment during commercial breaks, giving away cupcakes and a jersey every game and having a young hockey player skating with them in warm up, which I am a huge fan of.
The stadium also has a special system set up where the rainwater from the roof of the building is collected and is used to make up a majority of the ice surface for games.
If you have the time to get out to Abbotsford or live near there already, I recommend attending a Heat game during the season. It's a great alternative to the NHL ticket prices and you still get to see an entertaining game. A big thanks goes out to the staff of the Heat, who were very accommodating and open to talking. Not being very familiar with the area, they were helpful in answering my questions about the neighbourhood, in-game events and promotions.
Member Review by Heatfan63 on Jun 28, 2012
The facility is awesome as is the hockey.
There have been issued with operators that are owned by Global Spectrum. Ticketing, Concessions are separate entities.
Ticketing is not part of Ticketmaster
Food & beverage quality is good however when large crowds are present they drop the ball.
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