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Official Review by Katie Lawrence, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Once the most popular venue in Vancouver, the Pacific Coliseum has been a key part of the Lower Mainland sports scene. Built in 1968, the Rink on Renfrew has been home to the Vancouver Canucks, Whitecaps, Voodoo, Nats, Blazers, and most recently, the Giants. The Coliseum also played host to the short-track speed skating and figure skating events during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In 2007, it underwent a $20 million renovation, in part to prepare for the Olympic Games, adding new seats, a new scoreboard and increasing the ice surface to international competition size.
The arena is part of the Hastings Park complex, which also includes the Pacific National Exhibition, Playland amusement park and Hastings Racecourse.
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".
Pacific Coliseum boasts a pretty fantastic menu for a minor hockey arena. The main food concession is a Triple O's, the fast food version of the BC owned and operated White Spot restaurant franchise. There you can get burgers, fries, onion rings and pop, with many different combos available to keep the prices decent. There's also a Pizza Pizza on the opposite end of the stadium from Triple O's, with popcorn and treat stands scattered around the rest of the arena. Prices aren't what I'd call cheap, but they're lower than what you'll find at an NHL hockey game.
Alcoholic beverages offered at Pacific Coliseum include: a few domestic & import beer choices, wine, cider and coolers.
Going to watch Giants game at the Rink on Renfrew is always a great experience. It's a more family-oriented atmosphere, which means the fans are loud and excited but not rude. Part of the upper bowl is curtained off during the season, as the turnout is rarely a full house of 15,713, but the Giants always have a great crowd.
The stadium itself also adds to the atmosphere. It's an older stadium, but recent updates have added to its features and it's a fitting venue for the WHL games. The sightlines are great from both the upper and lower bowls, and the staff does a great job of keeping everything pretty clean. A few years ago, the scoreboard was updated from the original light-up board to a brand new video screen. Beams in the roof meet in the centre above the scoreboard, also making it visually appealing.
Pacific Coliseum is on the northwest side of Hastings Park complex, which is near the Vancouver-Burnaby border. It's a fairly quiet part of town, with almost a suburban feel to it once you get off the main roads.
Giants fans are a great bunch. There's a consistent turnout of between 6,000-10,000 fans per game, and they aren't afraid to be loud to support their boys. Fans always have at least one item of team gear with them, whether it's a Giants jersey, flag or a foam puck hat, team spirit is everywhere.
When it comes to the other team, Giants fans are pretty sportsmanlike. They cheer when an injured player makes it to his feet, and don't often boo when the opposition scores. The only time I see Giants fans get real riled up is when the refs let a few things go that the crowd feels should have been called.
Pacific Coliseum isn't exactly on the main drag, which makes it a bit of a trek to get to a game, especially if you're coming from outside of Vancouver. From Richmond, it takes about 40 minutes by skytrain and bus, if everything goes smoothly. Traffic can also get pretty backed up, with Highway 1 to the east of the stadium.
The Vancouver Giants have always had a fairly strong reputation in the WHL, consistently at or near the top of the BC division every year. You definitely get the bang for your buck, with tickets between $18-$21, taxes included. Great hockey for a great price. The fact that I can sit front row at a good hockey game in Vancouver without breaking the bank is fantastic.
Mascot Jack the Giant is a great feature of the Giants franchise, especially for kids. He slides around on the ice during the first intermission during the little kids' hockey game, poses for pictures, gives away prizes and is a little less scary looking than the Canucks' Fin.
One thing that takes away from the experience for me is the cheerleaders. I know I've harped on cheerleaders before, but these ladies just look like all the life has been sucked out of them. Hockey doesn't need cheerleaders anyway.
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2828 East Hastings Street #107
Vancouver, BC V5K 2A1
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