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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
On the south shore of Quebec, nestled between Montreal and Quebec City, lies the city of Drummondville. With a modest population of 70,000, Drummondville captures the essence of Quebec hockey. The pride of Drummondville includes their junior hockey team, the Voltigueurs, and their favorite son, Marcel Dionne. Dionne was both infamous and the second most-famous Los Angeles King (behind only Wayne Gretzky), and arguably the player that gave the most to the franchise. As part of the Triple Crown Line, Dionne was a staple of the Kings, and regularly finds time to return to his hometown of Drummondville.
The Voltigeurs are the second incarnation of major junior hockey in Drummondville. An expansion team in 1982, the Voltigeurs are named after a Quebec-based regiment that fought the Americans in the War of 1812. They followed the original QMJHL team, the Drummondville Rangers, which played from 1969 to 1974.
Currently owned by Jean-Guy Rene, Roger Dubois, and Michel Parizeau, the Voltigeurs have enjoyed moderate success, making it to the Memorial Cup 3 times, and winning the President's Trophy as the top team in the QMJHL in 2009. Their most famous alumni include NHL greats Steve Duschene and Daniel Briere.
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".
Concessions at the Centre Marcel Dionne are very ordinary. You are only going to find staple products that you would find in any arena, including hot dogs, popcorn, soda and nachos. There are only a couple of concession stands, and there are numerous vending machines to compliment those stands. The featured sodas are Pepsi products, and the beer available is Molson Export and Coors Light. Prices are decent, but a lack of variety is evident.
Centre Marcel Dionne is one of those arenas that sends you back in time. It has the feel of a community arena where your own kids would play house league hockey. The exterior is nothing spectacular, and could easily be driven right past without even noticing it. Once inside that community feel takes over. There is not much standing room where the ticket windows are. There is an opportunity to visit with the local early-birds or check out the various displays, including the large Marcel Dionne display.
Once inside, the seating bowl looks like it is from another time. The seating bowl is small and steep, offering fantastic sightlines. The arena features wooden seats, which although are not the most comfortable, are terribly historic. The scoreboard is simple with a 4 sided projected video screen.
Above the ice surface you will find the retired numbers of great Voltigeurs of the past including Steve Duschene, Ian Laperriere, Denis Gauthier, Steve Chartrand, Rene Corbet and Daniel Briere. At the far end of the arena you will find the modest banners from successful Voltigeur seasons, including the 2009 President's Trophy banners.
Throughout the arena there are various photos showcasing the hometown team. One of the more unique features of Centre Marcel Dionne is the giant Voltiguer banner which drops and shakes at key moments. Very simple, yet very unique.
The Centre Marcel Dionne is a community arena, located in a suburban area. There are not a ton of options in the immediate area for pre and post-game fare. Within a couple of minutes in the car you will find some recognizable chains, including Boston Pizza, East Side Marios and Quebec rotisserie chicken chain, St.Hubert.
The Noise!! Drummondville fans are extremely loud! This is probably the only place that I have been that has not banned air horns. The air horn is a favourite of the Drummondville fan, and they use them liberally! The fans that we met were very friendly and accommodating. They were willing to talk about their beloved hometown team and the prospects that the Voltigeurs would have in the upcoming playoffs. The attendance at Voltigeur games is a bit of a disappointment, as they average just under 2,500 for the season, putting them in the bottom third of the league.
Getting to the arena is not too difficult as it is located just north of Boul St.Joseph, a couple of kilometres from the Trans Canada Highway. There is some parking on site that is free of charge if you are early enough.
Once inside, however the concourses around the outside of the seating bowl do not encircle the arena, and are extremely narrow. Washroom facilities are also not the greatest.
It is ridiculous what a great deal a Voltigeurs game is. Top level junior hockey combined with free parking, good concession prices and unreal ticket prices equals great value. This is absolutely family entertainment. Voltigeur tickets go for $15 each, with seats for children going for a ridiculous $6. Unbelievable!
An extra mark for the waving banner. Very unique!
An extra mark for that hometown feel to a Voltigeurs game.
A trip through the QMJHL will find Drummondville as one of the solid francophone franchises. It's worth the trip to see an arena that is from a different time, and a great group of fans who know how to be loud!
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125 Boul Saint-Joseph
Drummondville, QC J2C 2A5
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