Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (map it)
400 East Ave
Kitchener, ON N2H 1Z6
Year Opened: 1951
There are no tickets available at this time.
If Eugene George is not a king in Kitchener, Ontario, he should be. Kitchener is located just an hour’s drive west of Toronto and is a hotbed of junior hockey because of Eugene George. George was the visionary who convinced the New York Rangers to move their Junior A farm team from Guelph to Kitchener. Just four years later the NHL decided to end their affiliation with junior hockey. George would purchase the team from the Rangers for $1, and in turn give the team to the subscribers, creating a truly locally owned team.
Over the years, the Kitchener Rangers have been one of the steadiest franchises in what is now the Ontario Hockey League. The OHL, which is one of the three member leagues of the Canadian Hockey League, is one of the top developers of hockey talent to the NHL. With Memorial Cup victories in 1982 and 2003 as the top team in junior hockey, the Rangers have become one of the most successful teams at the gate and in the boardroom, and have been a fairly successful team on the ice.
Home for the Rangers is the city-owned Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex. The Aud, as it is locally known, was built as a Memorial to the local war veterans, and the arena inside was named after longtime mayor of Kitchener, Dom Cardillo. The hockey experience at The Aud is second to none and will even rival some professional experiences. A healthy mix of tradition and modern amenities, the Kitchener Rangers provide their fans one of the best experiences possible. They truly are, hockey royalty.
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 Rangers and the Aud have an excellent culinary experience.
The outer concourse is a good spot to get a coffee or a wrap before the game at the On The Go Cafe. This spot has become increasingly popular as a result of one of the less popular changes that has been made for the Ranger games. The doors now open only a short hour before the drop of the puck. On The Go is a good spot to catch up with friends or get something to eat. Another good spot before the doors open up is the new gourmet hot dog stand, just past the ticket scanners, on the upper concourse before entering the Dom Cardillo Arena. A new selection of non-traditional hot dogs are available and definitely should be considered. Adjacent to the hot dog stand is the real staple of the Aud. It is still a must for the first time visitor to get some Oktoberfest Beer Nuts. They are made fresh on site, and are still warm when you buy them. Just outside the Dom Cardillo Arena, at the top of the stairs is the best place to find these. I would suggest holding out for the almonds or pecans, but if you are a peanut person then go ahead.
Inside the Dom Cardillo Arena there are Coyote Jack's Grill and Pizza Pizza stands which offer your typical arena fare. Beer stands in the concourse sell Coors Light, and in recent years may now be brought back to your seats. The Concourse Lounge offers more of a bar-like atmosphere to get a beer or another alcoholic beverage.
The Aud has been described at times as a mini Maple Leaf Gardens. The atmosphere is unmatched in the entire CHL. If there is one thing that the Rangers are better at than any team in the CHL and possibly all sport, is showcasing their history.
It begins in the outer concourse with the display for Kitchener's famous "Kraut Line." In the 1930s and 1940s, the Boston Bruins featured an all-Kitchener line that graduated from the Kitchener minor hockey system. Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumar and Bobby Bauer were a ridiculously tight trio that played together for decades, on one of the most famous lines in history. The trio ended up going to fight in World War II as a group, and returned to play for the Bruins. All three are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Schmidt is a former captain of the Bruins, who has his number 15 retired by the team.
One of the fantastic differences that you will find at the Aud that you won't find in a professional arena is a reduction of advertising in the concourses. This affords the Rangers the opportunity to display their team history. There is a team picture on the wall from all versions of the Rangers. The beams in the concourses are painted to honour players who made significant contributions to the Rangers. Some of these include Dwight Foster, Andre Benoit, Wendell Young, Brian Bellows, Derek Roy, Mike Richards, Boyd Devereaux and numerous others. There are also large murals that celebrate the Rangers by the decade, and their 6 Memorial Cup appearances. There is also a mural that uniquely celebrates the back-to-back Calder Trophy winners in the NHL for rookie of the year. Both Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche are Rangers alums.
Inside the seating bowl the fans attention is immediately drawn to the rafters, which are littered with banners. The numbers of members of the Hockey Hall of Fame who were Rangers are honoured, including Bill Barber, Larry Robinson, Paul Coffey, Scott Stevens, and Al MacInnis. There are banners honouring the franchise's leading scorers, Dwight Foster and Andre Benoit. There are banners memorializing other Rangers Gary Crosby and Jim McKeachie who died tragically while members of the team. Finally, there are a plethora of banners that memorialize the numerous conference and division championships headlined by the 4 OHL Championships and 1982 and 2003 Memorial Cup Championships.
The newest addition to the Rangers historical showcase is the Hall of History. Within the team store, Rangers Authentics, you will find the Hall of History which displays a variety of artifacts from numerous eras of the Rangers tenure in Kitchener. Among the highlights are a photo of Eugene George handing over a loan repayment cheque, which secured the Rangers future in Kitchener; artifacts from former Rangers Ryan Murphy and Jeff Skinner, who are members of the Carolina Hurricanes; and the wall of hockey masks which show creative designs for many Ranger goaltenders.
The seating bowl itself offers terrific sightlines. The stands are fairly steep and the person sitting in front of you is not normally a hindrance. The seats can be tight at times, and the last row of gold seats offers the least leg room. If this is a concern for you then you may want to try the new blue section. This section offers fantastic sightlines and the most space you will find in a regular seat in the Aud.
The Aud is located just east of downtown Kitchener. The complex also features Jack Couch Park and the condemned Centennial Stadium. For the most part, however, the Aud is a community arena. There are almost no pre and post game meal options within walking distance. You could hike up Ottawa Street to the Tim Horton's or Dairy Queen. Gastropub No. 29 in the same plaza may be an option, but it is pretty small. Your best bet, however would be to head downtown or take the highway out to Sportsworld. Downtown, you might want to try Bobby O'Briens or McCabe's. Out by Sportsworld you will definitely want to hit Moose Winooski's or the Pioneer Bar-B-Q. If you truly want a genuine Kitchener experience, then you should look into eating a pre-game meal at the Concordia Club. Kitchener celebrates the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany in Oktoberfest. The Friday buffet at the Concordia Club is a great way to experience Kitchener's German heritage before a Ranger game!
Other sporting options locally would include hopping over to Kitchener's twin city, Waterloo to catch some local university action. The Waterloo Warriors call the PAC home to basketball, Warrior Field home to football and Columbia IceField home to hockey. The Laurier Golden Hawks play their football games at University Stadium, their hockey games at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex and their basketball games at WLU Athletic Complex.
A Friday night in Kitchener should involve watching the Rangers in the Dom Cardillo Arena. There is nothing like a Friday night where the Rangers play the rival London Knights or Guelph Storm. The Rangers are consistently 2nd in the OHL in attendance behind London and average over 7,000 fans. Ranger fans are knowledgeable and focused on the action. They are loud when the Rangers score, and have a history of getting on referees.
It is pretty easy to get to the Aud. Just west of the Consestoga Parkway (Highway 7), access to the Aud is simple. The Aud has always featured large parking lots with free parking. The biggest problem with an increased capacity is with parking. Bringing in 1,000 extra fans each night did not bring with it any extra parking spaces. The Rangers have attempted to curtail the parking issues. Half of the Ottawa Street parking is only for car pools. There is an officer on site who checks to see that there are at least 3 people in the car. The Rangers have also initiated the Rangers Express, which is a bus that takes fans from various restaurants to the Aud. Either way, parking remains at a premium, and an early arrival may be the solution. Inside, the additional fans further cramp an already crowded concourse. Intermissions are ridiculously crowded. The long tradition in Kitchener of fans being forced to drink their beer in the concourse has not changed too much even though the stands are now licensed.
Although ticket prices are rising, (over $20) to some of the most expensive in the league, the Rangers remain a fantastic experience. Tickets are still a far off of professional prices (see Toronto Maple Leafs) and parking can be free if you are committed. Concession prices are decent. Although the investment is high compared to other spots in the CHL, the return may just be the best in the league.
An extra mark for over 50 years of Ranger hockey in Kitchener.
An extra mark for Eugene George, former owner of the Rangers who purchased the team and gave it to the Ranger Subscribers, cementing the future of the team in Kitchener.
An extra mark for the vast history on display for the Rangers in the Dom Cardillo Arena.
An extra mark for the Kitchener Minor Sports history on display all over the Auditorium Complex.
An extra mark for simply being the best.
Even the stingiest of professional hockey fans needs to take a trip into Kitchener to experience the next generation of NHL hockey stars. The experience is like none other and worth your time, money, and travel. If you are looking to experience hockey royalty, then make sure you catch a Kitchener Rangers hockey game.
*Note: Just prior to the publishing of this review, the Kitchener-Waterloo community and Ranger fans everywhere were saddened by the passing of founder Eugene George. Hopefully, the Rangers will find a proper way to honour him within the Dom Cardillo Arena.
The Kitchener Rangers are one of the premier clubs in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Established in its current form in 1963, the Rangers have seen hockey legends grow up wearing Ranger, red, white, and blue. Formerly a feeder team for the New York Rangers, the Kitchener Rangers currently provide a hockey education for pre-draft players getting ready for future careers in the NHL, AHL or other hockey leagues.
The OHL features hockey players from ages 16 to 21. Patrons have the opportunity to see the future of the NHL right now at a good price. Along with Quebec's QMJHL, and Western Canada's WHL, the OHL is a member of the Canadian Hockey League, (CHL) which provides more hockey players for the NHL draft than any other hockey league in the world.
The Rangers call the Dom Cardillo Arena home. Named after a long time Kitchener mayor, the Dom Cardillo Arena is part of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex, or "the Aud" for short. The Complex features 3 arenas, including the Dom Caridllo Arena, a baseball diamond for local baseball, and a track & field/football stadium. The Aud is also home to local Junior B team, the Kitchener Dutchmen.
I really enjoyed the initial review. The Aud is an interesting place. It's historic, it feels like hockey, and is incredibly loud and intimidating in the playoffs. At the same time, the seats are woefully small and tight, and regular season crowds are large but not especially loud, other than after goals. Ontario crowds tend to be that way -- those looking to lose their voice at a game yelling might feel a bit uncomfortable doing so, as you're likely to be the only one doing so. But come playoff time, the Aud is as electric as any atmosphere in hockey.
The beer on the concourse only rule is somewhat bizarre, especially to those not used to Ontario's sometimes quirky liquor laws. The result is two-fold - you have to chug your beer quickly, and it becomes obvious which people don't do well with this philosophy LOL - but more significantly, it jams the otherwise sufficient concourse to the point of gridlock some nights. The concessions themselves are middle of the road, three star worthy, but lose a point to me for the odd beer policy. However, the ability to bring your own food and drink - rare in the OHL - brings it back up a point.
Extras, I give a point for general game presentation, a point for the great history on display in the lobby, a point for the most creative use of beams (honoring former players), a point for the league's best team store, but subtract a point for ridiculously tight seats. Most people say if you're over 5'6", you don't fit. I've heard people 5'2" complain. It's really tight.
If you can, catch a playoff game at the Aud. If its against rivals like London, Windsor, or Guelph, it goes to another level yet.
To the horror of some, and the joy of others, the last few years in Kitchener have been a buzz with the possibility of a new arena, replacing the iconic Aud. Long have the Rangers been pining for a facility with a larger capacity. With every game being practically a sell-out; with walk-up sales non-existent; with a growing season ticket waiting list, the Rangers have been looking for a way to satiate the growing demand for hockey in Kitchener for a few years.
Rumors floated that a new arena was in the works, however that did not happen. The Rangers are owned by season ticket holders, and therefore are unable to exert the same kind of pressure on the city that an independent owner could. There is no possible threat of leaving.
Secondly, Kitchener is one of the top 5 markets in the entire Canadian Hockey League, so even a threat of a move would be hollow. In the end, an agreement between the Rangers and the City of Kitchener was formed, and Dom Cardillo Arena would be expanded. The roof at the south end was raised and approximately 1,000 seats were added, bringing capacity closer to OHL competitors, and box office success stories, London Knights and Ottawa 67's.
This all sounds great for the Rangers, however, an issue is the place the Rangers have within the context of the greater Canadian Hockey League. The Rangers have arguably the greatest experience in all of the CHL. Their attendance versus the capacity of their building is at the top of the league. Undoubtedly, part of that is because of the Aud. Would it be beneficial to change that? Should you mess with the best, regardless of the money that it could bring in? It is a wager that the Rangers are taking, and they are banking on the success of the new and improved Aud?
Growing up in the Kitchener Waterloo area, this is what I thought every arena in the OHL would be like. The Maple Leaf Gardens Feel, the loud and passionate fans and the history being proudly displayed.
Despite some other teams being younger, or being in smaller communities, I've learned over the years that the Aud is one of a kind.
Despite all the greatness the rink in Kitchener has, there are several flaws. The most common complaint is the seats and how there isn't much leg room, and the new seats they have added have an obstructed view of the scoreboard.
I love the classic feel, but you have to wonder, how much longer can the Kitchener Rangers continue to operate out of this facility?
Don't get me wrong, I always love returning to the Aud for its charm, but how much more can you add?
125 King St W
Kitchener, ON N2G 1A7
25 Sportsworld Dr
Kitchener, ON N2P 2J5
20 Heldmann Rd
Kitchener, ON N2P 0A6
352 King St.
West Kitchener, ON N2G 1B7
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!