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.
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?
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 made some significant improvements in the food department. Already pretty good, there have been new stands added, with some new options.
The outer concourse remains 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 Rangers games. The doors open now, 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, but the beers may not 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 new seating has created an upper concourse, and surprisingly there are really good concession options up there. A stand that offers pulled pork sandwiches is there for you to enjoy, as well the main concession stand offers various types of poutine for something a little different. The biggest advantage to the upper level is that patrons who purchase beer are actually allowed to bring their beer to their seat with them.
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 showcase their history. In 2012-2013 the Kitchener Rangers are celebrating their 50th year, and their history is all over The Aud.
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, which 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 50 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 number 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. 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 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 legroom. 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. Your best bet, however would be to head downtown or take the highway out to Sportsworld. Downtown, you might want to try Bobby O'Brien's or the Honest Lawyer. Out by Sportsworld you will definitely want to hit Moose Winooski's or the Pioneer Bar-B-Q.
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 in the top 3 in attendance in the OHL behind London and the Ottawa 67's. With Ottawa's temporary move to Scotiabank Place and the Dom Cardillo Arena's increased capacity, it is fairly certain that the Rangers have a lock on second place in the attendance race in 2013. Ranger fans are knowledgeable and focused on the action. They are loud when the Rangers score, and have a history of getting on referees.
This is one area where the Aud has fallen off a bit. 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 the new 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 three 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. Unfortunately, a new policy has the doors opening into the Dom Cardillo Arena a mere one hour before the drop of the puck. Inside, the additional fans further cramp an already crowded concourse. Intermissions are ridiculously crowded.
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 ways 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 50 years of Ranger hockey in Kitchener.
An extra mark for Eugene George, former owner of the Kitchener Rangers who gave the team to the season ticket holders, cementing the future of the Rangers in Kitchener for another 50 years.
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 that is on display all over the Auditorium Complex.
An extra mark simply for being the best.
The Aud is one of the gems in the hockey world. The Rangers have done a good job of increasing the capacity while preserving the mystique that is hockey in Kitchener. It would be a travesty if the Rangers eventually walked away from the Aud into a new building. Until that time, make sure you get to the Aud and enjoy what might just be the best experience in all of hockey.
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.
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