Scotiabank Centre (or Halifax Metro Centre as it was known until 2015) is the largest arena in the Maritimes. The arena was built in 1978 to replace the historic Halifax Forum, to attract and host larger events, and to become home for the American Hockey League‘s (AHL) Nova Scotia Voyageurs. The Voyageurs won three Calder Cups prior to moving into the Metro Centre, but were unable to continue their success and moved to Sherbrooke in 1984. This franchise is currently the St. John’s IceCaps, playing at Mile One Centre. The AHL void left by the Voyageurs was quickly filled the same year by the expansion Nova Scotia Oilers. The Oilers finished no higher than fourth in their division in their four seasons in Halifax before moving to Sydney, Nova Scotia. This same franchise is now the Bakersfield Condors.
Once again, Halifax lacked an AHL team for less than an off-season as the Fredericton Express moved to become the Halifax Citadels. The mid-nineties saw every AHL franchise move out of the Maritime region. The Citadels were no exception and moved to Cornwall, Ontario after five seasons in Halifax.
In 1994, the Halifax Mooseheads became the pioneer Maritime expansion franchise for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The success of the Mooseheads off the ice garnered further expansion and relocation into the Maritime region. New franchises included the Saint John Sea Dogs, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Charlottetown Islanders, Moncton Wildcats, Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and the St. John’s Fog Devils. The Fog Devils were the only Maritime franchise not to survive.
The best season for the Mooseheads came in 2013 when Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and goalie Zach Fucale led the team to win the Presidents Cup and Memorial Cup, making them the best team in junior hockey. The franchise also reached the Presidents Cup finals in 2003 and 2005. Famous Mooseheads alumni include Alex Tanguay, Jakub Voracek, and Jean-Sébastien Giguère.
Scotiabank took over the naming rights of the Halifax Metro Centre in 2015, and resulted in a number of much needed renovations to improve the fan experience. Included were new seats to replace the original crippling orange seats, improved bathroom efficiencies (communal sinks, etc.), and added local flavour to the food and drink options.
Along with the Mooseheads, Scotiabank Centre is also home to the Halifax Hurricanes of the National Basketball League of Canada.
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 food options at Scotiabank Centre are vastly improved since the completed renovations. The menu is focused on local chefs with local fare. Some new and unique items include beef brisket, multiple poutine options, lobster rolls, a dessert/candy stand, and the official food of Halifax, the donair (heavily spiced ground beef that's shaped into a large loaf and roasted on a spit, then shaved and seared on a flat top range. The meat is placed on a thin, Lebanese-style pita and topped with tomatoes and raw onions).
"Taste of 902" is a rotating stand offering different specials every four to five games. Grilled cheese and tomato basil soup was the special on the date of this review. All the classic food choices are still around, including burgers, sausages, hot dogs, fries, pizza and nachos. All are offered for between $5-$6. Combo meals are available and strongly advertised on the menu. A sausage, fries, and pop combo is an enormous amount of food that saves you 50 cents. Subway is greatly downsized from a traditional Subway restaurant, to a "grab & go" style.
If you are thirsty, Coke products are offered from the fountain and bottle. Cups are available in two sizes; the large size includes a souvenir cup. Other non-alcoholic drinks offered include hot chocolate, juice, and Keurig k-cups of coffee from the Van Houtte stand.
Budweiser and Alexander Keith's IPA are still the primary beer options for $6.50. However, look for the drink stand on the east side of the arena which offers Shock Top, Rolling Rock, and a craft brew called Goose Island. Vendors do not walk the seating area, so you will need to visit a concession stand for a desired item.
Overall, the concessions are well maintained and clean, with enough food and drink options to satisfy your cravings. Since much of the food is mass-produced, the quality of the traditional food options is a little disappointing.
Recommendation: Pulled pork poutine with a drink of your choice is plenty of food. Plus, you may want to save room for an ice cream king cone.
Due to its downtown location, the game day atmosphere outside Scotiabank Centre is one of the best in the QMJHL. The arena and convention centre are attached, making the complex two full city blocks which are surrounded by bars and restaurants. With the brick and glass bottom, concrete paneled top, and hints of the concrete seating area from underneath, the arena is clearly distinguishable from Citadel Hill and Brunswick Street. Around the sides of the building, the topography slopes down quickly and the architecture is not as pronounced.
Once inside Scotiabank Centre there is a "big-event" feel to the atmosphere. Walking around the concourse gives different experiences. The side concourses are closed off from viewing the game, but walk to the ends of the rink and the entire arena opens up. The lower seating bowl offers great viewing angles to catch all the action without fans in front obstructing the view. The rink is surrounded by 16-22 rows of seats. However, avoid rows 19-22. These rows were not part of the original arena design. They were squeezed in as part of a renovation years ago that closed off a walkway inside the seating bowl. Seats are comfortable but the legroom for anyone over 5'-8" is cramped. Also be aware of some obstructed view seats at rows Q through S in sections 13-17 due to metal posts.
An upper level is located on both sides of the rink consisting of 21 rows with decent viewing angles in the lower rows. However, avoid seats next to the aisle in rows A through G since the railing located at the bottom of the aisle may be right at your eye level. Also, avoid the top 16 rows (rows H through W); hanging skyboxes diminish the game atmosphere and the scoreboard/video board over centre ice is not in view. A scoreboard and videos are projected on the backside of the skyboxes, but the acoustics are awkward and you feel distant from the action. Over 40 skyboxes are located in a horseshoe style around the rink and are separate from the main concourse. Handicap seating is available nearly all the way around the seating bowl at the concourse level.
The new dark padded seats are a much needed upgrade over the old hard orange metal seats that were falling apart. During an event a few years ago, a six-year-old girl sat in her seat that gave way and fell to the floor. The girl was embarrassed, but okay. If a little girl could break a seat, the rest of us who witnessed this felt uneasy about our own seating situation. The new seats are padded, comfortable, and are equipped with cup holders. The four-sided scoreboard hanging from centre ice is small and simple with a good video display.
In-game promotions and entertainment keep you involved during breaks in the action. Young kids get the chance to play hockey at intermission and in-game hosts have contests with the fans. Game day handouts include fold up paper noisemakers, up-to-date statistics of the teams and players, and programs are available for $1. The mascots, Hal and Mac welcome the players onto the ice during introductions and then roam the crowd to the kids delight. Arena acoustics are fairly good, unless you are seated in the back rows of the upper level. The volume seems to adjust depending on the size of crowd. An entertaining mix of music from a number of Maritime classics to songs you have not heard in ages. Even "Dueling Banjos" makes the play list.
Halifax has a rich history to learn and explore. For a few hundred years, Halifax was an important army and navy base for the British against the French. Halifax Harbour is naturally protected from the ocean, and is the second largest natural harbour in the world. Thousands of immigrants came to Halifax for the fishing, shipping, and trading industry created by the protected harbour. In 1912, Halifax played an important role in rescue efforts following the sinking of the Titanic. Most of the casualties from that disaster are buried in Halifax. In 1917, the city suffered a tragic event itself when two ships collided in the harbour. One of those ships was full of ammunition causing an enormous explosion that killed 2,000 people and destroyed most of the city. Go to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to learn about these fascinating events.
Downtown Halifax is located on a steep hill from Halifax Harbour to Citadel Hill. The arena is integrated into the hill, which makes the arena look smaller from the outside than it actually is. Downtown is evolving into a destination again after years of dormant construction. A number of local business have occupied downtown for a long time, while new local businesses are slowly appearing. If you want to grab a drink and a bite before or after the game, Argyle Street is a great area full of options. For a relaxed atmosphere, take a walk on the boardwalk along Halifax Harbour; see some great tall ships, historic architecture, high-end restaurants, and the farmers market. All of these choices are within a 5-15 minute walk from the arena making it a great location for the season ticket holder or a hockey tourist.
Haligonians occasionally hear rumours of a possible NHL franchise heading their direction; however since Halifax is a small city, it may not have enough corporate investors to make NHL hockey a reality. Plus, though the Scotiabank Centre has an NHL-type atmosphere, the arena is simply too small, and not equipped to handle NHL hockey amenities.
However, there are plenty of local hockey fans, and they have always had a great relationship with the Mooseheads. Since 1997, Moosehead attendance has averaged over 6,600 per game (62.3% capacity) in all but two seasons. The highest season attendance was 2013, their Memorial Cup year, when they averaged 8,686 fans per game (82% capacity).
Fans show up wearing jerseys of Moosehead players past and present. Some of the jerseys are Moosehead jerseys, but you will also see a lot of Colorado Avalanche #29 gear for Moosehead great Nathan MacKinnon. Fans have a high hockey IQ and are constantly into the action. The arena employs an appropriate amount of ushers and security personnel to help you with a question and to make you feel safe. Both the ushers and a sign adhered on the floor at the top of the steps request patrons not to walk in the aisle during play. Though NHL hockey will not be coming to Halifax anytime soon, the fans are happy to have the Mooseheads and have shown their dedication and enthusiasm towards the team.
Direct flights to Halifax are available from most major Canadian cities, and a few American cities in the Eastern Time zone. Though Halifax looks close to the United States on maps, a drive from Portland, Maine would take around 10 hours due to a lack of a direct route. However the drive is beautiful no matter where you are coming from. When you arrive downtown, you are only minutes from the arena. It is easy to get there by foot or car. Two parking garages are within a block of Scotiabank Centre and metered parking is free on weekends or after six on weekdays. Metro Transit is another great way to get to the game. Several routes from all over the municipality converge into downtown for $2.50.
Though there is no dedicated main entrance, the most popular entrance is on the low (east) side of the arena. Stairs or ramps take you into an atrium where the box office, will call, team store, and entrance to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame are located. Prepare for a stair hike if you enter the arena from the atrium. The entrances along Brunswick Street may be easier and less congested if you already have your ticket and Moosehead gear. The easiest wheelchair accessible entrance is from the Brunswick and Duke Street corner. Here the doors are level with the concourse.
Once doors open, access around the arena is simple and straightforward. The concourse spans 360 degrees around the rink on an even level. Finding your seat should not be difficult as plenty of helpful signs point you to the sections. The east side of the arena is open, wide and grand. Part of it was an alleyway that used to separate the arena and convention centre. This additional concourse space has a relaxed feel with tables to stand at and enjoy your drink and/or meal. Unfortunately, concession lines around the west side of the stadium are clustered and unorganized. The restrooms were smartly renovated over the off-season. In two separate areas, male and female restrooms were combined to make one restroom. This opened up space and created more water closets. The wall hanging sinks were removed and replaced by a central fountain system. A few of the restrooms are located on another level of the arena, so watch for signs.
Prices for individual game tickets have been recently raised, but are still reasonable for witnessing the highest level of junior hockey in this market. Tickets are $19 for an adult, with discounts for seniors, youth, and children. Mooseheads offer a "build your own" 15 game pack for those who can't make every home game. Group tickets are available for discounts and Family Packs are available for select games at $79. Packs include four tickets, four fountain drinks, and four hot dogs. Birthday packages are available for a group of 10 or more, including a birthday mention on the video board and other perks.
The openness of the arena with its big event feel, the Hall of Fame and reasonable prices, together create a memorable overall game day experience. Scotiabank Centre is an experience any hockey enthusiast would be pleased to discover.
One extra point for the video booth replaying opponent goals. In-game operators realize that Moosehead fans are also true hockey fans that enjoy seeing great plays, even if the opponent makes that play.
Another extra point for the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. The entrance is through the atrium, and admission is free with a game ticket. The Sidney Crosby exhibit is a must see.
A third extra point for the banners of the arena that celebrate former Moosehead players (Commentator Pat Connolly, Giguère, Jody Shelley, and Tanguay), teams (2013 President Cup and Memorial Cup Champs), and even old CIS championship banners from local schools who won championships at Metro Centre.
One final extra point for the humorous people of Halifax. In addition to the championship banners and retired numbers that hang from the rafters, is a retired seat. One of the old orange seats that were replaced by the renovations hangs in the middle of all the banners.
With an abundance of history and areas to explore around the city, it is highly recommended to make a full day of discovering the sights and history of this city. For a full Haligonian experience, cap off your night with a dinner at 2 Doors Down and enjoy a Halifax Mooseheads hockey game.
Driving on the Trans-Canada Highway through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the last thing one would want to see is a moose-head. That all changes once you reach Halifax.
The QMJHL has long been focused on the province of Quebec. In 1993, Moosehead Breweries Limited convinced the league that expansion into the Canadian Maritimes was a good idea. Among great concern and skepticism, the league awarded an expansion team to Halifax and the brewery. The 1994 season saw the birth of the Halifax Mooseheads, and hockey in Canada's East got a much needed shot in the arm.
The Mooseheads ironically were named after, and originally owned by a Saint John, New Brunswick brewery, which remains Canada's oldest independent brewery. Eventually, the Mooseheads were sold to former Minnesota North Star and Montreal Canadien legend Bobby Smith, who still owns the team today.
Halifax is the biggest city in the Canadian maritimes, and therefore is the cultural centre of the East. Even though Halifax is not an overly large city, events at the Metro Centre have that big event feel to them. Moose Country is front and centre in the Halifax sporting scene. The Metro Centre, which is owned by the City of Halifax, and managed by Trade Centre Limited, offers a big event feel to it, and attracts the largest indoor events in the area.
Today, a junior hockey fan wouldn’t think twice about teams from the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island being a part of the LHJMQ, Québec’s division of the Canadian Hockey League. But until relatively recently it was inconceivable that there should be clubs outside that province. Such a mindset proved challenging for hockey in the Maritimes, a region that would not be able to support its own major-junior league, but separated from the rest of the country by the LHJMQ.
That changed in 1993 when, with some hesitation, the league agreed to expand into the Maritimes. Halifax, the largest city in the region, was the first candidate. One of the region’s iconic beer brands, Moosehead, commenced ownership of the team and named it after themselves. This is somewhat ironic, as Moosehead is from Saint John, New Brunswick, home of the rival Sea Dogs hockey team. Meanwhile, Alexander Keith’s is the iconic Nova Scotian beer, and so there is still a bizarre brewery rivalry with Moosehead’s name right at the heart of Keith’s territory.
The Mooseheads have had impressive success in recent years, having won the 2013 Memorial Cup as Canadian champions and recent alumni including Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Scotiabank Centre, until recently known as the Metro Centre, is a first-rate venue and as the largest in the Maritimes, has the professional feel of a top arena. While Halifax is a decently large city, Scotiabank Centre feels like the arena of a city much larger. As well as hosting the Mooseheads, Scotiabank Centre is home to the Rainmen of Canada’s National Basketball League as well as a number of trade shows, concerts, and the popular annual Royal Tattoo. It is part of the larger World Trade and Convention Centre which occupies a city block at the foot of downtown’s Citadel Hill.
The arena was renamed Scotiabank Centre (after the major bank, which was founded in Halifax) in 2014 and the new partnership is resulting in a number of upgrades being unveiled throughout 2015 that will continue to enhance the experience of attending a game at this top notch arena.
1533 Barrington St
Halifax, NS B3J 1Z4
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Halifax, NS B3J 2B6
7156 Chebucto Rd
Halifax, NS B3L 1N4
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Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3
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Halifax, NS B3J 1T3
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Halifax, NS B3J 0A1
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Halifax, NS B3J 3L6