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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Not since goaltender Denis Lemieux asked the famous question, in his thick French accent, "Who owns de Chiefs?" has a question stumped hockey fans around the world. Who owns the Peterborough Petes? Now this is not "Slapshot." (BTW if you have yet to see the movie Slapshot, what are you waiting for?) The answer to this question is complicated and perplexing.
Nobody owns the Petes.
The Peterborough Petes, are the oldest, continually running franchise in the OHL. Founded in 1956, after a previous life as the Kitchener Canucks, the Petes are steeped in tradition, and have a who's-who of hockey legends that have graced their halls. There is no team, outside of the Green Bay Packers, that have as strong a tie to the community as the Petes do.
Nobody owns the Petes.
The Petes are a not-for-profit organization that is run by a Board of Directors. I guess, technically the Pete's are owned by the six-member board. However, the board takes no profits, and members take no salary, and it would probably take an act of God to get them out of the Central Ontario city. The former owner of the Petes, the Montreal Canadiens, left the team in the hands of the Board of Directors.
The Petes alumni list is littered with hockey legends. Their coaches alone include legends Scotty Bowman, Roger Neilson and Mike Keenan. The Petes also boast 4 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame as players. They include Larry Murphy, Bob Gainey, Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky, who played 3 games for the Petes as an emergency call-up before being drafted by Sault Ste. Marie.
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".
For the most part the food selections are not overly inspiring. You can find all of the expected stuff here. Pizza Pizza has a presence, but you can also find fries, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, coffee, and Pepsi products. The prices are pretty avarage as well. Soda goes for $2.50, hot dogs are $3.50, and pizza is $4. Some more unique options are Buffalo Chicken Wings and some of the options at the stand called the Sandwich Shop. At the Sandwich Shop you can get some pulled pork, roast beef, pork schnitzel or pemeal bacon sandwiches for around $6. This is a bit more unique for junior hockey and gives the Petes a bit of a bump.
Is it only possible to give a maximum of 5 here?
The Peterborough Memorial Centre is a very unique venue. Make sure you get there right when the gates open. You will need all of that time to check out all of the things to see. The PMC is oozing with history, and the Petes have done a terrific job of putting that history on display.
The concourses begin with banners hung from the ceiling of great Petes of the past, including but not limited to, those individuals who have their banners raised in the seating bowl. Some hockey personalities that have banners in the concourse include Eric and Jordan Staal, Mike Ricci, Corey Stillman, and Chis Pronger among others. There does not seem to be any walls that are empty. Team pictures from every year, a plaque honouring the team captains over the years and a plaque honouring the team MVPs can be found in the concourses.
One of the really unique features of the PMC is that the dressing rooms are on the opposite sides of the concourses. To get to the ice, players must cross the concourses, and players even have the opportunity to converse with fans before the warm-up.
A major presence at the PMC is the Peterborough District Sports Hall of Fame. Members who were enshrined into the Hall of Fame each have sketches and short bios framed and posted on the walls in the concourses. This is a great feature in and of itself, however, it is just the tip of the iceberg.
During the game, the Hall of Fame Museum is open for fans to puruse. The museum has a huge variety of sports artifacts from various generations and highlights Petes history as well as the sporting history of the greater Peterborough area. I thought the Hall of Fame inside Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre at Owen Sound was good, but this was off the charts!
Once you get into the seating bowl, you will immidiately notice how unique it is. The sides of the rink are flanked with only eight to twelve rows of Petes maroon seats. The south end features the arena restaurant and restaurant seating, similar to the Barrie Molson Centre. The north end features over 30 rows of seats. This gives the PMC a really unique seating bowl, but also gives the opportunity for very different views of the game available to the fan.
The ceiling above the rink, which you will notice is hardwood if you look closely, is littered with division, conference, and league championship banners. The 1979 Memorial Cup Champions banner is also present. Banners honouring the greatest Petes are also hanging above, as the Petes do not retire numbers. Honorees include coaches Scotty Bowman, Dick Todd and Roger Nielson, and players Mickey Redmond, Bob Gainey, Larry Murphy and Steve Yzerman. There are also numerous banners for the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse as well. There is also a fairly new 8-sided scoreboard/videoboard, that unfortunately reflects the lights in the arena and is not overly effective.
The final unique aspect of the PMC is the way the rink is constructed. This is one of the few arenas in North America where the players benches are on opposite sides of the rink. Combined with the large painted portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, these aspects put together bring the fan back to a simpler time, where the aesthetics of a hockey arena were not complicated and not that commercialized.
The PMC is in a fairly residential area. There are a couple of strip malls near the arena but not a whole lot past that. If you are looking for a pre game meal then you need look no further than right across the street. Check out the Original Spaghetti House Pizzeria.
The fans at the Petes game are typical Ontario fans. They are fairly quiet, but get up and excited when there is something to get excited about. This game had an announced attendance of 2,700, which is up from their average of just under 2,400. Attendance at Petes games has dropped over the past few years down from over 3,000 in 2007. A little more success at the turnstile would undoubtedly accompany more success on the ice. The Petes have been pretty mediocre in recent years.
Getting in and out of the PMC is not a problem. Located near the end of highway 115 on Lansdowne St., the PMC offers lots of parking for a pretty cheap $3 price. Getting in and out is easy, and traffic was not a problem at all. The mark is a little lower because the concourses at the PMC are very narrow, and the washroom facilities are adequate. However, I would trade the narrow concourses for the rest of this building any day!
The Petes are a great day's entertainment. Tickets for the Petes range from $18-$26, which is about average for the OHL. Concession prices are decent, and parking, although not free, is a pallatable $3. All in all that adds up to a good value and the ability to see some top caliber hockey, at a legendary facility for a good price. It is a great place to bring out the family and enjoy the time together.
An extra point is awarded to the Petes for their mascot. The Petes' mascot is a dog, and hasn't been around all that long. In a call for suggestions, the Petes went to the public for the name of the new mascot, and they came up with Roger. Roger is named after former NHL and Petes coach Roger Neilson. It was said to be the perfect name because Roger Neilson was so competetive, caring and compassionate, and that is what they wanted in a mascot.
An extra point is awarded to the Petes for the phenomenal Peterborough District Sports Hall of Fame. This is worth the visit alone. You could spend a ton of time checking out the artifacts here and it makes a return visit necessary to catch what you missed.
An extra point is awarded for the vast history of the Peterborough Petes and how they have done a spectacular job putting that history on display.
One final extra point for the fabulous overall atmosphere, because I wanted to rate it a 6 up above.
If you are a hockey enthusiest, then make sure you make the trip northeast of Toronto to Peterborough. The rich history that is on display for a team that is a landmark franchise in the OHL is a must see for hockey fans. The community of Peterborough is on display at the PMC. The question remains, who owns the Petes? Nobody owns the Petes ... Peterborough owns the Petes ... Everybody owns the Petes.
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