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Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium

Kitchener, ON

Home of the Kitchener Rangers

4.4

4.3

Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (map it)
400 East Ave
Kitchener, ON N2H 1Z6
Canada


Kitchener Rangers website

Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium website

Year Opened: 1951

Capacity: 7,777

There are no tickets available at this time.

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One of the Last Hockey Shrines

The landscape in hockey has changed over the years. Gone are the hockey shrines of old that would just ooze history. Maple Leaf Gardens. The Forum. Boston Garden. Chicago Stadium. All abandoned in favour of luxury and the hope of dollars. However, if you step down a level in hockey, there are still a few hockey shrines around. One of those can be found in Kitchener, Ontario.

The Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex was built in 1951 as a memorial to those who gave their lives in World War I and World War II. A classic arena, many have commented how The Aud was built as a mini Maple Leaf Gardens.

However, it would not be until 1963 when local legend Eugene George would essentially give the community the Kitchener Rangers and a hockey dynasty was born. George purchased the team from the parent New York Rangers for $1 and then give them to the subscribers in a unique community ownership situation similar to the Green Bay Packers of the NFL.

After numerous renovations over the decade, the original arena was named after longtime, beloved mayor Dom Cardillo. The City of Kitchener-owned arena has been brought to a standard which places them at the top of the Canadian Hockey League. Although maintaining the history and classic nature of the arena, The Aud features a host of modern amenities which are equal or better than every comparable arena at this level.

4.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

The Rangers provide a great culinary experience. It begins with the lower concourse, a perfect place to meet friends and family. There you will find Roasters. Supplying all three rinks inside the Auditorium Complex, Roasters provides Tim Hortons coffee as well as a variety of other options.

Upon climbing the stairs, past the ticket takers, fans are immediately struck with the smell of fresh Oktoberfest Beer Nuts. The stand is right there, and selecting warm pecans, almonds, or peanuts in the bag is a great idea. Fans looking for something a little more hearty will not have to stray far until they hit Smoke's Poutinerie. The fast-growing franchise providing Canada's National Food offers a variety of fries and different takes on poutine. Alcohol and other beverages are also sold at this location.

The other main concession locations are run by Pizza Pizza. Pizza slices ($4.50), burgers, hot dogs ($4.50), chips, popcorn ($5), Grain Harvest Pretzels, fries and poutine are all available here. Combos are available to ease the cost a little. The Candy Counter also offers popcorn as well as milk shakes, sundaes, ice cream, candy, and chocolate.

The main beer selections at the Dom Cardillo Arena are not over the top, but do offer some local flavour. Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Molson Canadian, and Molson Canadian Cider are all available ($9). For some local flavour, try Waterloo Dark or Waterloo Grapefruit Radler, brewed locally at the Brick Brewery.

For those looking for a full fledged bar experience, the main bar offers a vast array of wines, cocktails and spirits. Be aware that if you want to use plastic to pay, then the bar is probably where you want to be. Many beer stands are cash only. Soft drinks are provided by Pepsi ($3/$5). Tim Hortons coffee, hot chocolate, and French vanilla cappuccino are also available.

Atmosphere    5

There are not too many spots like The Aud anymore. The original facade from 1951 can be viewed from the East Avenue side of the building. It is worth a peek for first timers, since most people enter from the opposite side of the building, where the parking is. The grey stone still brings something to the ambience. The East Avenue side of the building is oddly on the west side of the building, but most fans will enter from the north or south.

A breezeway joins the Dom Cardillo Arena with the other ice pads on the east side of the building. It is in the breezeway, near the ticketing windows that fans will find a display near and dear to the hearts of Kitchener residents. The famous Kraut Line of the Boston Bruins all got their start in Kitchener and there is a nice display honouring Bobby Bauer, Milt Schmidt, and Woody Dumart.

The breezeway also features historic banners and wooden plaques from events that have been held at The Aud, including the World Junior Hockey Championships, University Cup, and Scott Tournament of Hearts. Upon ascending the stairs to the ticket takers, fans are welcomed to the Dom Cardillo Arena featuring a nice mural of the late mayor above the stairs.

Be sure to leave plenty of time for exploring as first time fans could miss the entire game while exploring the main concourses. The walls are plastered with various murals. There are a whole host of team pictures from every season the Rangers iced a team. There are also a number of murals highlighting big moments from each decade of the team's history. Championship teams are highlighted. An interesting mural honours Gabriel Landeskog and Jeff Skinner, both former Rangers who won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in back to back seasons. The Rangers use every inch of space to their advantage. Even the diagonal i-beams feature the names and numbers of prominent Kitchener Rangers from seasons past.

Inside the seating bowl, fans are immediately greeted by the most state-of-the-art video board outside of NHL venues. It is bright, crisp, multi-layered and the Rangers use it throughout the game. LED ribbon boards are also along the long north and south sides of the arena.

Also above the ice surface, the ceiling of the Dom Cardillo Arena is littered with championship banners and honoured player numbers. Bill Barber, Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis and Paul Coffey have all had their numbers honoured as members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Gary Crosby and Jim McGeachie are honoured as their lives came to tragic, premature ends. The Rangers also hang banners for Dwight Foster as the team's all-time leading scorer, and Andre Benoit as the team's all-time leading scorer for a defenseman. Of course there are also a number of league, conference and division championship banners. The Rangers have won the J. Ross Roberson Cup as OHL Champions in 1981, 1982, 2003 and 2008. They also went to the next level and won the Memorial Cup as Canadian Hockey League Champions in 1982 and 2003.

The seating bowl offers terrific sightlines. The stands are fairly steep and offer a good view of the ice. At times the legroom can be a little tight. If this is a concern, avoid the corners and last row of gold seats. The new blue section offers fantastic sightlines on an even steeper slope and probably the most comfortable spot, outside of the luxury box or west end restaurant.

Neighborhood    3

The Aud is located just east of downtown Kitchener. For the most part, 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. Strykerz Kitchen and Bar in the same plaza may be an option, but it is pretty small.

Your best bet would be to head downtown or take the highway out to Sportsworld. Downtown, you might want to try The Grand Trunk Saloon, TWH Social, Bobby O'Brien's or McCabe's. Out by Sportsworld you will definitely want to hit Moose Winooski's. 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 Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium, their hockey games at Sun Life Financial Arena at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, and their basketball games at WLU Athletic Complex.

Downtown, fans may also want to check out The Museum.

If you are staying in town overnight, downtown is probably where you are going to need to head. The Walper Hotel and Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo are decent selections.

Fans    5

Friday nights in Kitchener require planning in advance. Ranger tickets are hard to come by without sufficient lead time. Ranger fans are loud and proud. They average over 7,000 fans per game and are consistently second in attendance in the OHL. They also rank in the top five in attendance in the entire Canadian Hockey League. Ranger fans are knowledgeable and can get seriously loud and have a reputation for getting on the referees often.

Access    3

Getting to the Aud is not too difficult. The Auditorium Complex is immediately adjacent to Highway 7 for easy access. Most people enter the Complex from Ottawa Street, right off of the highway. Travelling through Kitchener can be a challenge with construction on the new light rail transit ongoing, but avoiding the city streets and sticking to the highway is a good plan. Parking is free on the grounds in the Ottawa and Stirling lots. With the expansion of the Dom Cardillo Arena, parking has become a premium. Ensure there is plenty of time when arriving or bring friends and park in the carpool lot.

Public transit is available on Ottawa Street for fans interested in bussing it. Check the Grand River Transit website for schedules, fares and maps. Another option may be the Ranger Express. Fan busses which travel to and from restaurants in Kitchener and Waterloo may be a consideration.

The ticket windows are often free of lines as game day sales almost never happen. Enter the Ottawa Street side for ticket windows if necessary.

The concourses in the Aud are unfortunately quite narrow. Travelling during intermissions can be precarious. An entire intermission is probably necessary to do a full 360 degree trip. Washroom facilities are reasonably clean, but are really busy during intermissions.

Return on Investment    5

A Rangers game is a great investment for your sporting dollar. The Kitchener Rangers offer an exciting product on the ice and an environment that is as good as many professional experiences at the fraction of the cost of seeing an NHL game. Ticket prices, although on the high side for the OHL and CHL, cost $22. This is still a far cry from even the cheapest face value NHL tickets. Parking is free and concession prices are reasonable. The formula equals an opportunity to bring the family to a great sporting experience and not drop a mortgage payment.

Extras    5

An extra mark to the City of Kitchener in recognition of the contribution of the late Eugene George. The city has renamed the street travelling to the west of the Aud, from East Ave to Ottawa St, Eugene George Way. His gifting of the Rangers to the subscribers created a unique ownership situation that galvanized the bond between city and team.

An extra mark for the special events the Rangers run, specifically Teddy Bear Toss Night and Don Cameron Potato Night. Seeing thousands of stuffed animals strewn to the ice just before Christmas is an experience in and of itself. Potato Night is a unique evening run by legendary retired Rangers broadcaster Don Cameron where fans bring in donations of bags of potatoes.

An extra mark for the long and illustrious hockey history of the Rangers and the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and the great job the Rangers do of putting that history on display.

An extra mark for the City of Kitchener and the Rangers in not abandoning their classic arena and instead improving upon it to bring it up to today's technological and luxury standards.

An extra mark for all of the Kitchener Minor Sports history on display at the Auditorium Complex.

Final Thoughts

There is no end in sight for the Dom Cardillo Arena. The home of the Kitchener Rangers seems safe and is one of the best hockey experiences in the world. It is comforting to know that at least one of the hockey shrines will remain intact and a place where hockey fans can continue to pay homage to the game they love.

--

Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

Tight Arena ...

Some of the seats can be a little cramped. I'm 6'2" and I do okay. A little hint however ... avoid the last row of gold seats at all costs. That row definitely doesn't have enough leg room!!

by profan9 | Dec 12, 2011 06:56 AM

Get the name right

The Rangers play in the KITCHENER MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM. That is their home. Recently a few seats have been added so they can gouge more Kitchener citizens of their hard-earned $25, but the Aud is a Memorial, and not to Dom Cardillo.

by JimMeyer | Oct 20, 2012 07:21 PM

It's been awhile...

The last time I saw the Rangers was back in the early 80s when Scott Stevens was still on the team. The last time I was in the Aud was to watch the Brier back in 1896. Sounds like I'm long overdue for a trip to Ontario to check things out. :)

by calgaryjimbo | Feb 01, 2013 09:46 AM

It's been awhile ...

1896? How old ARE you, Jim?

by profan9 | Feb 01, 2013 09:52 AM

It's been awhile

I'm OLD, man! So old I can't even type 1986 properly!

by calgaryjimbo | Feb 01, 2013 01:53 PM

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-- OR --

Crowd Reviews

Welcome to the Aud ... Welcome to the future!

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 2

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.

A classic, but tight, arena

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

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.

Messing with the Best?

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

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?

History... History Everywhere

Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

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?

Hockey Royalty

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

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.

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Local Food & Drink

Bobby O'Brien's  (map it!)

125 King St W

Kitchener, ON N2G 1A7

(519) 743-5657

http://www.bobbyobriens.com/kw/index.html

Moose Winooski's  (map it!)

20 Heldmann Rd

Kitchener, ON N2P 0A6

(519) 653-9660

http://moosewinooskis.com/locations/kitchener/

MccAbe's Irish Pub & Grill  (map it!)

352 King St.

West Kitchener, ON N2G 1B7

(519) 743-3400

http://www.mccabesirishpub.ca/Kitchener/

StrykerZ Kitchen and Bar  (map it!)

120 Ottawa St N

Kitchener, ON N2H 3K5

(519) 208-4888

http://strykerzkitchenandbar.ca/

The Grand Trunk Saloon  (map it!)

30 Ontario St S

Kitchener, ON N2G 1A6

(519) 578-8282

https://www.grandtrunksaloon.com/

TWH Social  (map it!)

1 King St W

Kitchener, ON N2G 1A3

(519) 745-8478

http://www.twhsocial.com/

Schenke at Concordia Club  (map it!)

429 Ottawa St S

Kitchener, ON N2M 3P6

(519) 745-5617

http://www.concordiaclub.ca/

Local Entertainment

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest  (map it!)

17 Benton St

Kitchener, ON N2G 3G9

(519) 570-4267

http://www.oktoberfest.ca/

THEMUSEUM  (map it!)

10 King St W

Kitchener, ON N2G 1A3

(519) 749-9387

http://www.themuseum.ca/

Lodging

The Walper Hotel  (map it!)

20 Queen St S

Kitchener, ON N2G 1V6

(519) 745-4321

http://www.walper.com/

Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo  (map it!)

105 King St E

Kitchener, ON N2G 1V6

(519) 744-4141

https://www.ihg.com/hotels/us/en/reservation

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