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Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre

Abbotsford, BC

Home of the Abbotsford Heat

2.4

3.7

Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (map it)
33800 King Rd
Abbotsford, BC V2S 7P2
Canada


Abbotsford Heat website

Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre website

Year Opened: 2009

Capacity: 7,046

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Cool Arena, Hot Fun

Just 72 kilometers and less than an hour southeast of Vancouver, the Abbotsford Heat skate in a modern arena filled with amenities and fun for all fans. In Spring of 2009, the Quad City Flames (Moline, Illinois) moved to Fraser Valley after two seasons. The club now plays at the 7,046-seat Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

The Heat are the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate to the Calgary Flames, even though Abbotsford is 905 km (603 miles) away, the Vancouver Canucks would have been a better affiliation geographically. Efforts to make a franchise swap failed in June 2013 and the Canucks settled instead to purchase the Peoria Rivermen and move the franchise to Utica, New York to become the Comets under a six-year arrangement.

The lack of a local identity is a challenge for the Heat whereas having the NHL parent club much closer would help. Even so, having an AHL travel schedule where Oklahoma City is your closest away game (1585 km or 1059 miles distance) is a financial as well as logistical challenge. To help reduce travel costs, road teams often play two consecutive games in Abbotsford.

For now, Abbotsford is ranked 29th in attendance in the 30-team AHL, despite a club that was challenging for the top spot in the Western Conference in 2013-2014. At 2,924 per game, the Heat draw just 606 more than the last place Portland (Maine) Pirates. It seems their best draws are when Utica and all of the future Canucks come to town. In the six games Utica has visited in 2013-2014, more than 4,500 per game have witnessed the Heat and Comets.

The AHL average for attendance is 5,323, and there is concern due to financial issues that the local team may not remain in British Columbia too much longer. Until change occurs though, know you will enjoy attending an Abbotsford Heat game no matter how many people pass through the turnstiles with you.

2.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There are a few neat treats to enjoy at the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Center, but most everything you would expect to consume at a sporting event is here. Pepsi products are the soft drink of choice with fountain variety at $6 for a large 32o. size and $4 for a regular 24oz size. Bottled soda and water are $3.50 and $4 respectively. Gourmet coffee and tea is available for $2.25 and then add additional accompaniments to your warm beverage for $0.75. Other coffee choices are also available at slightly higher prices.

For beer lovers, Sleeman Original Draught is the beer of choice at $10.50 for a 24oz or $5.25 for a 12oz. Consider getting this behind sections 113/114 at the Sleeman Original Draught Picks Taphouse. They serve hot pretzels there, too. House wine Copper Moon Pinot Grigio or Shiraz is $6.50 for a 6oz serving and is served in the main concession stands.

As for other items including snacks, a large slice of pizza is $5.50, a jumbo all-beef dog is $4.75, and popcorn has three different prices at $3.50 for a small, $4.75 for a medium and $9 for a bottomless tub of the popular snack.

There are too many to name here, but just know there is an array of healthy choices, Mexican food and ice cream treats here.

There are a number of special items which caught my attention. Two of them are entrée choices for $8 each. The first is the Cattleman Dog which is an all-beef hot dog with beef brisket and pickled onions served with chips. Another is the Southern Comfort Dog which is an all-beef hot dog with barbeque sauce, cole slaw and bacon bits, also served with chips.

Abby Jacks, the local choice for what some people know as caramel corn, is offered for $4. Cin City Donuts offers a dozen lightly sugared mini donuts for $5. Poutine, a Canadian favorite of fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy for $6 is a popular, albeit heavy choice.

Lastly, on the main floor is a local business to satisfy your sweet tooth. Stop by Frosting Cup Cakery outside section 103 offering some of the most cleverly produced cupcakes I have ever tasted. Each medium-sized cupcake is $3.50, but buy 6 mini cupcakes for $6. I think the price for the single large cupcakes is a little low, but that is up to the owner to determine. They sell on average 40 a game.

If you are able to secure a club seat or suite ticket, a full buffet with dessert is offered for $25 and the food is fantastic and includes a wide variety of offerings. This area provides high stools and tables for you to enjoy the game instead of from your regular seat or suite. Waiter service is also available at the full bar on this level.

Be aware, most food and drink carts outside of the permanent concession stands only accept cash.

Atmosphere    3

The Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre is a modern arena that is everything a hockey fan would want with comfortable seating, excellent sightlines and an exciting atmosphere among the high points. The single-bowl building offers a little bit of everything from wide concourses, quality food and beverage selections and a premium level offering some excellent dining choices and luxury seating options. If picking up tickets at the arena, the box office is on the southeast corner of the arena and shared a wall with section 116.

In determining where to sit, consider as though you were sitting in section 100 behind the penalty box. Directly across from you are the benches and section 109. Importantly, the home team is to the right at section 109A while the visitors are to your left at section 109B, both of these sections are narrow and a good reference point to where the teams enter the ice at the midway point of their respective benches. Make sure you give notice to the arrival of the home team and the light show near their bench when they enter the ice. It's pretty cool.

The Heat defend the goal to your right twice in front of where sections 104 and 105 meet while they attack the goal to your left twice where sections 113 and 114 meet twice. Behind these sections is a much more open and wider concourse than what you see in the other areas and in particular the opposite end of the ice.

All seats are comfortable in width and depth from the row in front and behind. They are also padded and include a cup holder just below and to the right of your seat. Rows are of medium length and the pitch between rows is quite good with as many as 24 rows per section. Seats are numbered left to right as you face them with your back facing the ice.

Details of the game are brought to you from a four-sided, center-hung scoreboard which is just large enough to have the value it requires, but not overdone. Replays and live action are shown here. A secondary scoreboard can be found high on the wall of section 113/114. Ribbon boards atop the suite level provide detailed information related to promotions and game details as they happen with respect to goals, penalties and out-of-town scores.

The sound is appropriate and not too loud. Organ and canned music fill in the slow periods of the evening and sirens mark the achievement of a home goal. The siren's sound is piercing and there is no doubt what has happened when you hear it.

As for pricing, attending a Heat game will cause you to spend more than you normally would want for AHL action. While you will save $2 for purchasing before game day, the top price is $41 for a game day seat at center ice in either section 100 or section 109. Move to the sections on either side of the center section and you pay $35. Corners are $26.50 and ends behind the goal are $16.50, the best value in the rink.

Incidentally, the Hershey Bears, leading the league in average attendance in 2013-2014 at 9,565, nearly three times the Heat, have two game-day ticket prices at $26.50 and $20.50.

As for the best seat for the money, consider section 114 midway up the section where you get to see the Heat shoot twice, get a good view of both benches and are near the concourse where there is ample walking space behind the section. Any seat costing more than $16.50 is not worth it at the rink.

As for other important areas, the team store is behind section 100. Like most team stores there is a wide array of merchandise, but I was surprised at the overwhelming selection of jerseys and hoodies which dominated the selection. I wondered where the smaller and cheaper priced selections were as they were out of hockey pucks and a few other sought after items. It turned me off when the store manager, not one of the other employees, had such a lukewarm reaction to my questions on merchandise. It left me feeling she could not be bothered even as I posed as a regular fan intent on spending money there.

Another area worth spending a little time is at the display explaining the facility as the first ever professional grade indoor arena to use rainwater. Just outside section 111 on the outer wall is the display (shown in the photo gallery of this review). It's a nice touch to tout the facility's commitment to sustainability.

If you have to leave your seat during the game, monitors help you to follow the live action up high along the concourse. During the game, event promotions rarely screamed original with the chuck-a-puck and "Move of the Game" from a further away seat to a closer view being conducted.

On this night, the theme involved honoring the Aboriginal First Nations people. It was a solid promotional effort intended to honor a special group of people and athletes while exposing others to their custom and way of life. The Heat are clever in developing themed promotional nights during the season despite some of their failure to draw better.

Neighborhood    2

The Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Complex is a ways away from the center of town, but the good news is there are two dining options to keep you satisfied adjacent to the arena.

Finnegan's shares a parking lot with the arena on the west side. Consider one of their burgers, which are fantastic, or the Cajun prawn linguini. There are fair prices and live music after the games. For a little more night club atmosphere, consider the Phoenix Lounge, also on the west side of the arena.

Fans    2

As with many Canadian cities, fans are passionate about their hockey team, but the attendance generally falls short of expectations. Sure there are the die-hards outfitted in jerseys and hat, but the sheer low numbers are not what one would expect.

Access    3

The Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Complex is just off the Trans Canada Highway (Canada 1). If heading east from Vancouver, exit the highway at exit 90 (McCallum Road) and turn right (south). Travel just less than 300 meters (1,000 feet) and make a left at King Street. Travel another 300 meters and the arena is on your right. Keep in mind, this is a bit south and not near the downtown area.

Street and surface parking is on all sides, but the most common parking areas are to the east, south and west of the arena at various rates. Parking is as low as $5 in general parking and there are automated parking areas where you pay electronically and set the receipt on your dash. Make sure you note the stall your car is occupying.

Also, please know the area behind the south parking edge are apartment complexes so be sure not to park there as you will certainly get ticketed and maybe even towed. Parking areas are clearly defined, just keep aware of the details.

As for bathrooms, there are a plenty of them and lines are never really long or facilities full. This benefit is likely due to the sub-3,000 attendance level at most games, unless Utica is in town.

Queues at concession stands are also not too full, but this is more likely due to the positioning of these stands which are recessed back into the underside of the sections to make better use of space. It is a clever move which more facilities should consider during the design phase.

Return on Investment    2

One thing fans have to buy at hockey games are tickets and the prices here are simply outrageous. It seems the club has overestimated the appeal of minor league hockey here. The Hershey Bears have found a way to make it work profitably in the middle of Pennsylvania and I wonder why the Heat owners don't change their approach.

The food and drink prices are mostly fair. If spending money on food and drink is a staple of your evening at a hockey game, you won't feel cheated when you leave. Consider promotions with special food and drink pricing before selecting the game to attend.

Extras    2

GAME PROGRAM - get them at the Heat booth at section 112. They are free and include a nice combination of game and promotional information for future games. A separate roster with updated stats can also be found here.

MASCOT - Hawkey, a red-tailed hawk native to this Fraser Valley area, is the Abbotsford Heat mascot. He wears a jersey wearing 00 and on the night I attending the game, walked around beating a drum so much it was pounding in my head for several days after my return to the States.

MERCHANDISE - the team store at section 100 is the only place to get Heat merchandise. It is overpriced for the most part and the large majority of inventory involves high-priced items. There are very few items offered at a low price point and I was turned off by the bad attitude of the store manager who didn't seem to understand the concept of world-class guest service.

ABBOTSFORD HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM - can be found at section 111 and include faces and names of the local contributors to the sport of hockey.

Great Buiding, great people

Have been out to a few games in the past couple seasons and couldnt agree more with this review. bang on!

by new133 | Jun 27, 2012 06:09 PM

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Crowd Reviews

The Heat is On

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

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.

AESC & Abbotsford Heat

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

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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Local Food & Drink

Finnegan's Pub  (map it!)

33780 King Rd

Abbotsford, BC V2S 7P2

(604) 859-2220

http://www.finneganspub.ca/

Phoenix Lounge  (map it!)

33780 King Rd

Abbotsford, BC V2S 7P2

(604) 859-2220

http://www.phoenixlounge.ca/

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