Built in 1975 for the Canada Winter Games, the ENMAX Centre is now home to the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. Designed for a multitude of purposes, the stadium converts easily to a number of different applications, for curling, concerts, hockey, basketball, banquets, etc.
Since 2010, the ENMAX Centre has been undergoing a major facelift, with $34 million in upgrades. New features include new luxury suites, a new scoreboard and sound system, new press facilities, new locker rooms for the teams, and a new restaurant and lounge that should be completed by the end of March, in time for the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.
The 2011/2012 season is the 25th for the Hurricanes in Lethbridge and the 44th overall for the franchise. The team got off to a slow start this year, losing every game in October. This has somewhat impacted the number of fans in the stands, but with the renovations to the building wrapping up, the franchise is confident that there are good things ahead.
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".
Part of the upgrade programme has been upgrading the concession stands. There are numerous choices spread around the facility and each stand has a slightly different selection, including a kiosk with mini doughnuts (delicious), several locations that have fairly conventional concession fare, including hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos, and also a concession on the west side featuring healthier options, such as veggies or wraps (the chicken wrap was also quite good). There is beer available in the stands, but not much in the way of selection.
The addition of the new lounge may actually improve this score further, providing even more options to an already solid setup.
The energy at the ENMAX Centre is fairly laid back, which may be in part because of the struggles the Hurricanes have been playing through this season. There are cheers at the right times, but the stadium is pretty quiet otherwise.
The main issue is the seating. After checking a number of different seating locations around the stadium, one thing that stood out, particularly in the corners, was legroom that can most charitably be called "cozy." In spite of the seats themselves being new and quite comfortable, the lack of legroom made it awkward to stay facing forward without trying to slide our knees to one side or the other.
Additionally, there are a dozen or so seats in the upper decks of Sections "A" and "S" where about half of the view of the rink is completely blocked off by the new luxury boxes. You can still see the game on the video feed on the scoreboard, but it makes this handful of seats less than ideal.
Aside from those flaws, sight lines from everywhere else in the building are excellent and the venue’s overall atmosphere is fun and inviting.
You really can’t ask for a better location than that of the ENMAX Centre. Located right on Scenic Drive, one of the major thoroughfares for Lethbridge, the stadium is also just a couple blocks from Mayor Magrath Drive and most of the key shops and services in town. You are within walking distance of fast food, casual dining, bars, pubs, shopping; pretty much everything is right there.
From Burger King to Five Guys Burger and Fries to Boston Pizza to Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse and Bar and everything in between, there is something for everyone.
The fans are pleasant and have a good time at the game, although an off year for the Hurricanes might be contributing to a general lack of real exuberance. Overall, the fans look to be having a good time and are polite. They are quite enjoyable to be around.
As noted earlier, attendance is down for the 2011/2012 season, but the team is still drawing between 2,500-4,000 people to the games, filling the stadium halfway or better every night.
Curiously, I observed a disproportionately high number of people with hair dyed to very unique colours, with numerous blue, pink and purple hairdos in the stands. I’m not sure if this is a fan thing or a Lethbridge thing, but it did add a fun element to people-watching in the stands.
Parking at the ENMAX Centre is outstanding, with ample free parking available in the lots surrounding the stadium. There is also reserved parking for fans attending the luxury suites. Getting in and out of the parking lots is a snap, with traffic clearing out quickly and easily following the game and, with the stadium situated on a major artery—with a second major artery right around the corner—getting to the ENMAX Centre from anywhere in Lethbridge will only take minutes.
If you’re looking to bus in, there is a stop right in front of the stadium, again making getting to and from the venue simple.
With game-day seats available for $20 a seat, pricing for walk-ups are excellent, providing great value for your viewing dollar. There aren’t many better deals out there for this level of competition and entertainment. An excellent value for your money.
The two dozen luxury boxes are leased by ENMAX for three-year periods and have been a hot item, as they are completely sold out.
Season ticket sales for the 2012/2013 season are about to go on sale, with early bird deals as well as loyalty pricing for returning season ticket holders, making the price as much as 30 percent cheaper for fans dedicated to taking in lots of junior hockey action.
ENMAX Centre has a number of great touches to add to the experience of taking in a Hurricanes game.
The Hurricanes have a souvenir stand in the northeast corner of the main concourse where fans can pick up hats, tee-shirts, jerseys, and various knick-knacks, all at fairly typical prices.
A nifty feature for some fans is standing room spots all the way around the perimeter of the concourse, which are sold in the same manner as the seats. Apparently many fans prefer to watch games from these standing positions, rather than the seats, so this gives the audience one more unique viewing option.
As a facility and franchise with very close ties to the community, ENMAX Centre makes several community tables available around the concourse, allowing community-based fundraisers and awareness campaigns an opportunity to bring their message to the fans.
The Hurricanes also have a mascot, Twister, to keep the kids in the audience entertained, plus there were short hockey exhibitions between periods involving youth players during my visit.
Also of note, among the upgrades to the facility, are the new scoreboard and sound system. The scoreboard provides a hi-res video feed of the on-ice action which is readily visible to everyone in the stands. The excellent sound system beams music and public address announcements to the audience and has characteristics that put it on par with the systems in NHL-quality stadiums around North America.
All in all, this facility is well set up and you can look forward to a satisfying and fun visit.
There are no crowd reviews yet. Be the first and help us build with your expertise!
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!