Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is a small community about 50 miles west of the provincial capital, Regina. Known primarily as the home of Canada’s military aerobatics team, the Snowbirds, Moose Jaw has an interesting history with its tunnels reputedly being used to smuggle alcohol during prohibition. That sort of story may attract tourists, but the locals are far more interested in one thing: their junior hockey team, the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Warriors have played here since 1984 when they moved from Winnipeg, and have endured a championship drought during that time. They called the old Moose Jaw Civic Centre home for each of those seasons until finally moving into a shiny new venue, Mosaic Place, in 2011.
Opened in August 2011, Mosaic Place is a multi-purpose complex that is the jewel of downtown Moose Jaw. Minnesota-based Fortune 500 company Mosaic, a phosphate and potash concern, bought the naming rights for the next ten years. The facility consists of the hockey rink as well as an eight-sheet curling club and a restaurant that is open daily.
With a capacity of nearly 4,500, the venue is a major improvement on the aging Civic Centre and has given the community a new place to gather as they cheer their team on. Now it is hoped that they can finally raise that WHL championship banner that they have been dreaming about for so long.
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 Great Western Lounge provides a buffet before games that is open to the general public and is a much more interesting option if you get there well before game time. Great Western is a Saskatoon-based brewery that owns the beer distribution rights at Mosaic Place so you can enjoy their offerings here and in the seating bowl.
For those who are interested in the more typical stadium fare, there are concession stands at every corner of the concourse as well as pop and candy machines scattered throughout. There isn't much there that would be considered unique though, with prices a bit more than I would expect at this level. Poutine and the Taco in a Bag were the two specials of the day when I visited but I would guess they are available most days.
There is also a club section on the 2nd level which has separate concession stands but I did not notice anything different from what was available on the concourse.
There is a single seating bowl here, as well as 21 suites and 132 club seats. Despite the increase in capacity, the fans come out in droves and make this a great place to watch a game, helped by wonderful acoustics. I enjoy the sounds of hockey: the puck being passed stick to stick, a pad save, the players yelling at each other and this rink allows all of those to be heard more clearly than any other junior hockey venue that I have visited. Some may argue the crowd is too quiet, but I think that is a factor of being caught up in the game. Hockey requires concentration to watch properly and these fans follow that maxim closely. I don't need to be distracted with silly promotions during the game and neither do these fans. If you like your hockey pure and intense, you will enjoy watching games here.
I arrived in Moose Jaw in the middle of the biggest winter storm of the season which prevented me from really getting around the town. The arena is located in the middle of the city at the corner of River St and 1 Ave N with a number of restaurants nearby as well as some tourist attractions and a casino. I did drive around a bit but with snow piling up, I decided to take refuge in a local pub, Bobby's Place, about 3 blocks away. This Irish pub serves up some great fish and chips and poutine, with friendly servers and if you are lucky, a band warming up for that evening's show. Well worth checking out before or after the game.
A winter storm is nothing in Moose Jaw when compared to a weekend hockey game featuring the Warriors and the rival Swift Current Broncos and over 4,000 fans braved the elements to make it out that night. Based on this fact alone they are awarded the full five points, but as I mentioned before, they spend their time here watching the game. I won't even begin to question their passion or knowledge of the game, suffice to say that these fans are what allows junior hockey to thrive in small-town Canada.
Parking is free but limited within the venue's parking lot, however street parking is free when there is an event at Mosaic Place. You will not have trouble finding a spot around the rink and getting out is very easy as well; it's about 5 minutes up Main Street to get to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Once inside, you will find the concourse to be quite spacious and you can stand anywhere and watch the game while making your rounds. This is a downtown venue whose footprint wasn't severely limited by the surrounding area, so there are no problems getting around as the designers ensured the concourse would be more than large enough to accommodate the 4,500 spectators.
If it is winter and snow or ice has built up, you will need to take care on the stairs that take you back down to the parking lot after the game as they can be slippery, but this is a common situation in Canada.
Tickets here are $20 for regular seats or $30 for the club sections which provide excellent views behind one of the goals. The Warriors are a fantastic show and well worth the investment, without a bad seat in the place. There is really nothing else here, and I mean that in a good way. If you want to see a hockey game without any of the unnecessary distractions, Moose Jaw is as good a place as you can find.
As an aside, I arrived two hours before game time and was happy to find the rink open to the public, since it was cold and snowy outside. I walked in and watched a pick-up game between two teams of guys in their 40s, exploring the venue in the process, without ever being questioned by any of the staff. It was great fun to be one of few spectators in such a sparkling new arena and see the players warming up and coaches being interviewed before the general public had even left their houses to make their way here.
There were no pennants or banners immediately noticeable; I'm not sure if that is due to the Warriors relatively poor success record or that they haven't moved them from the old rink yet.
The Warriors wore their third jersey which I always find cool and I'll give them a point for that.
As well, the great acoustics here make for a memorable sensory experience.
Overall, this is a simple place where hockey is all that matters. To me, this is what spectator sports used to be like, before hype took over. If you are ever driving through Moose Jaw, check out the WHL schedule and see if the Warriors are in town, you won't regret a visit to Mosaic Place.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Sports Road Trips.
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63 High Street East
Moose Jaw, SK S6H 0B7
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