The Barrie Molson Centre is credited for starting the trend of brand new medium-sized arenas in the Ontario Hockey League. With it being the first of its kind though, it has quickly fallen behind when it comes to some of the modern amenities, and has missed out on several attempts to host the CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup, with the last attempt being in 2014.
The rink is fairly easy to get to, as it’s right off the 400 at Mapleview Drive, but traffic can be a bit of a pain. Barrie is one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario, and the south end has had a bit of a difficult time keeping up with the demand of traffic. A new commercial development is located across from the BMC which adds to the already congested neighborhood. If you are driving to the arena, there is a large parking lot which is free to use off of Bayview Street, and is easy to get out of after a Colts game.
If you’re looking for a pre-game meal, and you don’t want to deal with the traffic, the Molson Centre has a restaurant connected to it called Horsepower Grill, and is only open on game days. There are seats that give you a pretty decent view of the ice surface from the north end, and can be purchased ahead of time. With the restaurant being at the front of the arena, along with the Colts store and offices, the main entrance is a little small, and can get congested. There is a second entrance at the south end of the building, but the parking lot is reserved for season ticket holders.
The layout of the area is easy to navigate, and the concourse allows you to walk around, but it is narrow due to concession stands, 50/50 draw tables and other promotions.
Once in the bowl, you will notice a lot of banners, and they're not just for division titles and championships. At the north end, the Barrie Colts have banners showing alumni who are also Stanley Cup champions and they have various stats boards that show their all-time leaders for various categories. Another thing that stands out is that the BMC has box seats at ice level, which are on either side of the penalty box. With this set up, it makes getting a first row seat in sections 101, 102, 103, 126 and 127 really nice, as you have an unobstructed view of the ice, and a little higher up than being down at the boards.
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 food within the BMC concession area is what you would expect at any OHL game; popcorn, pizza, candy bars, pop and beer. The one advantage that the Molson Centre does have an edge is the Horsepower Restaurant which you can attend before the game, or you can purchase tickets for restaurant seating which is at one of the ends. The food at Horsepower is very similar to any family restaurant, but there is plenty of Barrie Colts memorabilia throughout the restaurant to entertain both young and old hockey fans.
Fans in Barrie are passionate about their OHL team, but almost to the point where they're so focused, they sometimes don't make a sound. Many refer the Molson Centre as the library of the Ontario Hockey League and it's noticeable in between whistles. Despite it being a quieter rink, some Colts fans have been known to be vocal when it comes to visiting fans and even radio broadcasters as there is barely any separation between the press box and fan seating. No matter what game it is, you do feel like you are a part of the action with the angle of the seating at the BMC.
There are several advantages for the location of the rink, but recent development in the area has made driving a bit of a pain. The south end of Barrie at Mapleview Drive and the 400 is one of the most congested areas in the city. If you are coming from out of town, you will want to give yourself a little extra time getting to rink during busy times. The arena is not far from the 400 which is a plus, and with the recent developments, there are plenty of food options across the street, along with plenty of free parking.
Despite not having a home radio broadcast like the other 18 teams in the league, Barrie games are often a sellout. The Colts have only missed the playoffs once in the last 20 years, and are known for making deep playoff runs which keeps bringing in the fans. With winning comes a lot of passion and pride among the Colts faithful.
Just like the traffic in the neighborhood, moving around the BMC can also be a bit of a challenge. There are several concession stands throughout the concourse, but it is fairly narrow, and is a bit of a challenge to get around. If you are a fan that likes to wait until the intermission to get your snacks, expect that journey to take the full intermission. The three entrances to the arena are also on the small side, but the ushers do a great job of moving fans through; the only issue is if fans decide to hangout in the those areas which can cause a bit of a hassle.
You can never go wrong with attending an Ontario Hockey League game, but going to a game that's full of fans makes it even better. With the success the Colts have had on the ice, it has also resulted in some great players going through the system before they end up in the NHL. There have been several players who have played with Barrie, and are now making a difference in the National Hockey League. Some of those recent players include Aaron Ekblad, Tanner Pearson, Joseph Blandisi, Kyle Clifford and Mark Schiefele.
Even though the fans may be a bit on the quiet side, the staff behind the scenes make going to a Colts game enjoyable. They use the centre ice scoreboard to their advantage by playing videos that gets the kids excited, they have the kiss game and even have a promotion that points out visiting fans. Overall, the crew at the BMC know how to make the in game experience fun, instead of keeping things the same year after year or bombarding you with ads every other minute.
One spot at Barrie Molson Centre that any sports fan should check out is the table set up by Ice Box Cards and Collectibles from Barrie. They are set up behind section 115 which has a wide variety of memorabilia which should entice any hockey fan.
Overall, it is a great experience at the Barrie Molson Centre, and it helps that the Colts tend to always ice a competitive team. If you are wanting to take in a game in Barrie as a neutral fan, you may want to consider a rivalry game against the Sudbury Wolves, North Bay Battalion or Owen Sound Attack, as the atmosphere gets a little more intense, along with plenty of physical play.
On the doorstep of the Muskokas, and on the banks of Lake Simcoe, sits Barrie, Ontairo. Barrie is located just on the outskirts of Ontario's famed Cottage Country, a short drive north of Toronto. A growing city, Barrie's successful history with Junior B hockey warranted the OHL to grant them an expansion franchise. In 1995, the Barrie Colts moved from a Junior B franchise, to the OHL and Major Junior A Hockey.
When Barrie was granted an OHL franchise, the City of Barrie rushed to put together an arena appropriate for the OHL. Unbelievably, the Barrie Molson Centre was completed in just one calendar year, opening on December 31st, 1995. It was the first new arena that the OHL had seen in a very long time and was the base of what other franchises would look to in future arena construction.
In 2006, the Colts were sold to local entrepreneur Howie Campbell. They have remained moderately successful, missing the playoffs only in 2011 during his tenure as owner. The Colts have never seemed to produce that big-time NHL star, but continue to be a fairly strong draw with a solid on-ice product, and an NHL Legend behind the bench ... Dale Hawerchuck.
The Barrie Molson Centre is a solid place to catch a hockey game. There are a few standout features, like the Horsepower Restaurant, but there are also some negatives such as the small size and quiet fans.
The arena is located off Highway 400 and upon being approached, has the classic arena appearance with brown brick and a large arching ceiling.
The highlight of the arena is the Horsepower Grill which has smooth service and very good ribs. There is also a thoughtful seating section for restaurant patrons going right down to ice level behind one of the nets.
Another interesting feature is that a row of suites is situated at ice level along the side of the arena. While this seems bizarre at first, it actually makes sense because fans in seats cannot see much from the first few rows anyway.
A problem in Barrie is the quiet fans. It has been said online before and it really is true. The arena is almost silent during play. Between whistles there are a number of intersting costumes and noisemakers displayed but during play one feels embarrased to heckle or cheer. I would advise to come in a group and all cheer together so that you can not be the only one in your section making noise.
Aside from this the arena is very nice, however, and makes for a great place to grab dinner and catch OHL hockey with your family or friends.
Bonus point for the hilarious intro video of a young boy in a Colts sweater pumping everyone up by saying "Screw 'em" to the opposing team.
Extra for the stats boards hanging from the roof functioning as a Level of Excellence for Colts players and teams of the past.
The BMC is a great place for a game, the atmosphere is good, but a little quieter than some other arenas, but has been much louder this year. The concessions are what you would expect in a OHL arena with recent additions of Beaver Tails and Jugo Juice.
For seating, there is no bad seat in the arena. The Horsepower Bar and Grill is also a great place to go before or after a game. The Washrooms are also quiet good and I have never seen a lineup on a regular sold out Saturday game.
Extras would include the many giveaways during and after the game along with seeing a team that has only missed the playoffs once in 18 years.
When the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) decided to expand to Barrie in 1995 they chose a scenic city with a prime position for growth and for sport fans. Barrie is located on Kempenfelt Bay, a western arm of Lake Simcoe and just one hour north of Toronto on Highway 400. The city has seen extraordinary growth as the commuter railway, as GO Transit has begun to provide quick rail connections to downtown Toronto. Barrie is still a very distinct entity from Toronto, but the two cities have seen their fortunes become increasingly linked.
Barrie's position just north of Toronto is not convenient for commuters. Anyone who has ever tried driving up the 400 through Barrie on a summer weekend can tell you all about the famous 'Cottage Country traffic' that suddenly appears after work on Fridays between the mid-May Victoria Day weekend and Labour Day in September. Between these dates, thousands travel two or three hours north to Ontario's world-famous Cottage Country. Barrie finds itself situated on the very southern tip of the region, dotted with lakes and covered in forest. North of Barrie lies the Muskoka region and its country clubs, quaint towns, and fine dining. But for great hockey, fans need only go as far as the Mapleview Drive exit in the south end of Barrie where the arena appears right away.
The Barrie Molson Centre was the trailblazer in the renaissance of the Ontario Hockey League, ushering an era of sparkling new arenas across the province. Constructed over only one year and opened for the Barrie Colts' inaugural season in 1995, the arena introduced many of the features now seen throughout the league. The BMC, as it is known, now finds itself in a similar situation to Toronto's Rogers Centre in that it set the standard for amenities but has since been rendered somewhat out-of-date by a slew of newer venues.
In recent years the Colts have seen lots of success. Currently coached by NHL legend, Dale Howerchuk, the team has turned out a number of NHL players but no huge names yet. The fans continue to fill the Barrie Molson Centre; an arena that although no longer state-of-the-art is still a great place to watch some high calibre junior hockey. Also the Colts are bidding to host the 2014 Memorial Cup, hosting the top teams from throughout the Canadian Hockey League and their fans.
The Barrie Colts fans have earned a reputation over the years as being some of the most quiet fans in the league. Over the past four years, I think its safe to say that's changed.
With the success this team has seen over the years, the fans are knowledgeable and love their team. They are passionate and are not afraid to show it. Depending on the game you go to, this could be an issue.
The set up at the BMC is both perfect for fans and unique. I love the idea of having box seats at glass level, which also benefits those who don't want to sit at glass level but still have an unimpeded view of the play.
As an extra, I love how they have a guy in the concession area selling hockey memorabilia!
150 Park Place Blvd
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Barrie, ON L9S 3S1
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Barrie, ON L4M 4Y8
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