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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nordique Nation have made themselves known. Showing up at various hockey venues, making themselves heard and sending a message to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is what this group is all about. Their goal is to bring back NHL hockey to Quebec City. The return of the Nordiques may be the hope for the future, but the present is all about supporting the Quebec Remparts and their favorite son, Patrick Roy.
"St. Patrick" was born in Quebec City and grew up a huge Nordiques fan before making his mark as a phenomenal goaltender for the rival Montreal Canadiens. Once he was done ignoring his critics like Jeremy Roenick by "plugging his ears with his Stanley Cup rings," Patrick went home to revive junior hockey in his hometown. Roy has been amazingly successful, winning a Memorial Cup championship in 2006 and putting together the most successful franchise on the ice in junior hockey. Roy has done all of this while wearing the hats of owner, governor, general manager and head coach.
The Colisee Pepsi is the former home of the Nordiques and the current home of the Remparts. The Colisee is owned by the City of Quebec, and hopes to be a temporary home for NHL hockey again. A new arena has been approved in the provincial capital and it seems almost inevitable that the NHL will return. There are even rumors that Patrick Roy himself is pushing off interest from the Canadiens to be their head coach in order to take over a new Quebec team. What this means for the Remparts is anyone's guess, but what is certain is that the Remparts are one heck of a fun evening!
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 for a Remparts game are pretty poor. There are a few stands that sell the absolute basics. Hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, soda and fries are the available options. Budweiser is the beer available, and of course Pepsi is the soda of choice. The prices are pretty good, but the quality and variety of concessions is pretty poor. The best idea would be to find elsewhere to eat.
The Remparts have been the blueprint for another CHL team, the Vancouver Giants. The Giants also play in an older, larger, former home of an NHL team. The sense of history is strong in The Colisee. As the former home of the Nordiques, the Colisee features the banners from the Nordiques era including the retired numbers of Petr Stastny and Michel Goulet. The banner for the 1977 Avco Cup (champion of the old World Hockey Association) hangs also.
The Colisee also features history from other Quebec teams. There is a Stanley Cup banner from the 1912 Quebec Bulldogs. There are also numerous banners for the Quebec Aces, including Edinburgh Trophy and Alexander Cup banners. The number 9 has been retired for Jean Beliveau by both the Quebec Aces and Quebec Citadelles, where he played minor pro hockey before joining the Canadiens.
Of course there are banners honouring both incarnations of the Remparts. The numbers of Simon Gagne, Alexander Radulov and Guy Lafleur have been retired. There are also banners for various division and conference championships. These are highlighted by the Memorial Cup Champions banners of 1971 and 2006.
The seating bowl in the Colisee has a steep slope to it so the sight-lines are good. The 200 level is not the greatest perspective, but if you are looking for some real history, find a seat in the 400 level. Up there, you can pretty much select your own seat, and you can sit in the classic wooden seats.
Although there is great history here, and the fans really make it a fun experience, it is clear that if there is a return of the Nordiques, then a new arena is absolutely necessary.
The Colisee Pepsi is on the grounds of the ExpoCite. This is the local exhibition grounds and it is located northwest of the walled city of Old Quebec. You most definitely want to take some time and tour the old part of the city. You will feel as if you have been transported across the Atlantic as the European feel is unmistakable.
There are a few small spots near the arena but heading to Old Quebec is the best option. You may want to try Quebec franchises Valentine or St. Hubert, especially if you fear the language barrier.
The Quebec fans get it. If they want the NHL back, they must support the lower level brand of hockey that they do have, and Quebec City fans have done just that. The Remparts are the highest drawing team in the entire Canadian Hockey League, averaging well over 10,000 fans consistently for years. The attendance for the game that was reviewed was well over 11,000. Not only do the Rempart fans show up in droves, they seem to be into the game more than other hockey fans. They are loud and proud and will be heard! You couldn't hear the person next to you, not because you have Stanley Cup rings in your ears, but because the Quebec faithful wouldn't allow it. Rempart fans even boo loudly when the opposing team scores a goal. This was easily the biggest fan experience that I've experienced thus far in all of junior hockey.
Getting to the Colisee is not that difficult. Just south of the junctions of highways 40 and 73, as well as other major streets, the traffic to and from the Colisee moves fairly smoothly. There is ample parking surrounding the arena, some free and some for $6. The concourses are not huge nor are the washrooms, but they're not the worst I've seen.
Ticket prices for the Remparts are average for the league. Although the concessions are very poor and there is a good chance you will pay for parking, the atmosphere and the fans make a Remparts game such a great experience that they receive top marks for the return on investment.
An extra mark for possibly the greatest fans in hockey. They are loud and into every single bounce of the puck.
An extra mark for the great history of Quebec hockey on display.
An extra mark for championship banners from 4 different leagues.
An extra mark for the standing ovation for St. Patrick as he accepted an award at centre ice during my visit.
With the expected return of the NHL to Quebec City, one wonders what the future holds for the Remparts. Hopefully the blueprint found in Vancouver can be followed and the Remparts can remain in Quebec City and remain successful. Life for the Colisee may be short, so make sure that you see it while you can!
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2045 Boulevard Pere-Lelievre
Quebec City, QC G1P 2W8
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