The Waterloo Warriors basketball program has seen some lean seasons as of late. The reason for this may be debatable, but the state of the athletic facilities did not help the situation. However, the Waterloo Warriors are talking about rejuvenation on and off the court.
The home for the Warriors is the 1967-built Physical Athletics Complex. The University of Waterloo is fresh off of a significant renovation which saw the loathsome wooden bleachers put out to pasture. Waterloo is also primed for another reno to the tune of $35 million which will make significant improvements to the aging PAC and adjacent Student Life Centre.
The University of Waterloo is a large university in southwestern Ontario known mainly for engineering and computer science. One of Bill Gates' frequent recruiting visit destinations, Waterloo boasts over 30,000 students located in a metropolitan area of over 400,000.
The Warriors have taken to the court since 1958 and currently play in the OUA, the Ontario Conference of Canada’s university athletics association, U-Sports. The Warriors have seen some glory on the court, winning six Wilson Cups as conference champions. The glory period of Warrior basketball culminated in the 1975 National Championship. With the later part of the eighties, nineties and thus far in the new millennium not being great times for Warrior basketball, Waterloo is attempting to turn the tables on the court. Recruiting new head coach Justin Gunter from a successful program at McMaster and some promising recruiting classes have the Warriors Tribe showing some optimism for the future. With the Warriors’ Battlefield continuing to improve, will the Warriors, themselves, follow suit?
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".
A full-fledged culinary experience you will not find at the PAC. Concessions have been taken over at the PAC by the University of Waterloo Catering and Event Services. The menu remains very simple with chips, popcorn and chocolate bars available at $2 apiece. Bottled Pepsi products, water and Gatorade are also available at $2 - $3. Hot Chocolate and coffee are also now available. Concession prices are very affordable, but the variety is not really there. That being said, the surrounding neighbourhood offers a ton of options to solve the munchies. A quick snack at the game may be all you need.
The upgrades to the PAC have made a huge difference in the Warrior experience. The biggest change for the fan has been the improvement in comfort.
The exterior of the PAC is nothing special. The PAC lacks a true entrance and is pretty much a square with four corners to enter. Brown-red brick and exposed concrete are all fans will find on the exterior. There is a distinct lack of windows and natural light is not to be found inside. Upon entering the PAC, make sure the Blue North entrance is the one chosen as the other entrances are often locked. With the PAC expansion, a new, dedicated entrance will be one of the main benefits with attention being drawn away from the current PAC exterior to a new, vibrant entrance.
The immediate impact of upgrades to the PAC are noticed as soon as fans enter the seating area. The horrendous wooden bleachers are now gone. The 2016 season saw the introduction of new lower bleachers. The east grandstand now features contoured plastic bleachers with flip-up back rests. The west grandstand is even better with very comfortable full plastic seats. With the 2016-2017 season, the upper grandstands, which were rarely used for basketball, were also removed. Retractable plastic bleachers on the upper level are now available for larger crowds and a nice curtain is usually dropped for game days to allow for other programming. On the east side, the upper wooden bleachers have also been removed and currently the area remains open as a training facility. The new railings that divide the upper and lower levels feature tempered glass with the Warrior logo. The end result is one of the most comfortable experiences in OUA basketball. Some of the upgrades will make the experience even better. Currently it is difficult to go from the west to east grandstands. Going across the floor is probably the easiest way. The construction of a bridge from one side to the other is on tap and easier access to desired seating will be gained.
The north side of the gym features the flags and a decent, simple scoreboard. The top of the south end of the gym features championship banners from all Warrior sports. Basketball, specifically, features Ontario Championships in a four year run from 1974 to 1977 as well as 1983 and 1986. The Warriors National Championship banner from 1975 is almost lost in the mix. Many of the banners are in need of repair, and a more modern display should be considered in the future. Some of the success that the Warriors enjoyed early in their athletic existence is pretty phenomenal, and Waterloo should do more to put that history on display.
The game day experience is about what you would expect in an OUA basketball game. Most of the jobs are done by students. Those jobs include the play-by-play and production of the televised event on OUA.tv. Promotions are on the lighter side, which is okay as at other experiences, promotions can get over the top. The Warriors are in need of a new PA system as announcements are easily lost to the muffled nature of the speakers.
The PAC is located at the north side of the campus of the University of Waterloo, mere minutes from Uptown Waterloo, a neighbourhood that offers a ton of possibilities.
In the immediate area, the Student Life Center is right next door to the PAC and inside you will find the Bomb Shelter, the student run restaurant on campus. The University Club is also nearby on campus. Otherwise you would probably want to make the quick walk across campus to University Ave. In the University Shops Plaza you will find a ton of options for pre and post game fare. Some spots you may want to consider include Mel's Diner, the Mongolian Grill, and Molly Bloom's. If you head up University towards King Street, then you will find another group of spots. Consider Shoeless Joe's, Smoke's Poutinerie and Morty's Pub. If you head south down King Street you will find Uptown Waterloo. The Huether Hotel, The Works and Cafe Symposium are great spots there.
There are a few other options for entertainment in the area. The fall months see the Bavarian Festival, Oktoberfest take over the area. The Jazz Room at the Huether Hotel also hosts a number of different Jazz acts every weekend. If you are looking for other sporting options, Waterloo also fields other athletic teams including hockey at the Columbia IceField Arena and football at Warrior Field. Just up the street from Waterloo is Wilfrid Laurier University and they also field a full slate of athletic programs including football at Knight-Newbrough Field, basketball at the Athletic Complex and hockey at Sun Life Financial Arena. You could also head next door to Kitchener to catch the Kitchener Rangers at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
There are a few different places nearby to stay over if you are remaining in the area. The brand new Delta is not far from campus on Erb Street. If you are looking for something a little more original, try the Waterloo Hotel on King Street. At select games, the Warriors' mascot, King Warrior, along with the Waterloo cheerleaders will make an appearance and add to the game day experience.
OUA Basketball is difficult to assess when it comes to fans. Many programs do not publish home attendance figures. That being said, Waterloo does not have a massive following. A smattering of family, friends, students and community members can be found at a Warriors basketball game. OUA Basketball programs typically do not draw in the thousands. In fact, probably the most popular program draws around 1,500 per game. Warrior fans that are in attendance are pretty laid back and relaxed. Recent years have not provided too much to cheer for, but the 2016-2017 season has shown that there is a little bit of hope on the horizon and with that hope may come more fans. The best bet for a larger crowd would be the rivalry game against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, located a few blocks north on University Avenue.
Getting to the PAC is not too difficult, however getting around is not the simplest task.
The PAC is located right on Ring Road of the University of Waterloo, near the Columbia Street entrance. Getting into campus from Hagey Blvd at Columbia Street is probably the best idea. Campus is located a bit of a distance from Highway 85, so if you are coming from out of town you will have to drive a few kilometres through town to get to campus.
Public transit runs on Columbia Street, University Ave and all around the Waterloo campus on Ring Road. There are stops right in front of the PAC where Grand River Transit buses will drop off and pick up patrons. Check out the GRT website for schedules, rates and maps.
Parking is available on the Waterloo campus. The parking lot just north of the PAC is available at $6 per day. If you are willing to walk and want some free parking, try finding a spot across Columbia Street, behind the optometry building. Parking there is free after hours and on weekends.
Ticketing can be a bit confusing for the first time visitor to Waterloo. The PAC has four entrances at each corner of the building, that all look very similar. Ticketing on game day is found at the foot of the stairs of the Blue North entrance. It is merely a temporary table brought in for events, but the Warriors have recently brought in the ability for fans to purchase tickets with credit or debit.
Getting around the PAC can be an issue. First of all, it can be confusing, including the entrance issues. Stairs will definitely part of your visit to the PAC. From the north parking lot, you would need to take stairs down to ground level. Upon entry to the PAC you would need to take stairs up to enter the gymnasium. Upon entering the gymnasium, you would need to take stairs to get to your seat. The washrooms are also out at ground level, which takes a couple sets of stairs to get to. The washroom facilities are pretty small, but considering the number of fans in attendance, that is not a big deal.
With the new renovation, expected to be ready for the beginning of the 2018 season, many of these access issues will be addressed. A distinct entrance and more control of the flow of fan traffic will be achieved. Also, washroom facilities will be upgraded and become more accessible, especially for handicapped visitors. Ticketing will be in a more permanent spot also.
Waterloo Warriors basketball offers great value for the dollar. A ticket to a Warrior basketball game will run $10. Children can enter for $5. Parking can be found for free for those willing to take a bit of a hike and concession prices are very affordable as well. The fan is rewarded with a great basketball product in a facility that is comfortable and improving. This adds up to a fantastic way to spend a weekday evening or Saturday afternoon. Warrior games are also doubleheaders with the women's basketball team and entry is on the same ticket. For fans who are looking for a lot of sports for a little money, this is a great deal. U-Sports and OUA Basketball is one of the most underrated sporting experiences out there.
An extra mark for the new seating and railings in the PAC.
An extra mark for the student-run event especially the work for online broadcasts.
An extra mark for the upcoming renovation of the PAC and Student Life Center. Renderings of the expansion can be found here.
An extra mark for Roly Webster and Ari Grossman. A couple of former Golden Hawks have taken the helm of the Warriors athletic programs and pushed the re-investment in the facilities and programs and are hoping for some big results on the court.
The once proud Waterloo basketball program is, hopefully having a resurgence with the investments that the University of Waterloo is making in the program and the facilities. The OUA is a better place when the Warriors are competitive and hopefully the team is on their way back to competitiveness. For now, fans must take solace that the Warriors' Battlefield is still improving and that hope remains on the horizon for better days.
Canadian Interuniversity Sport basketball gyms come in many different shapes and sizes. At the University of Waterloo, home of the Warriors, home is the Physical Activities Complex. Commonly known as the PAC, the complex has been home for the Warriors for almost the entirety of their existence. Built in 1967, the PAC has recently undergone a much-needed facelift to make it better for spectators and also offer a better atmosphere for basketball. Lately, the Warriors have fallen on hard times and are looking for their facility to help them springboard into a new era of winning basketball. The Warriors have seen some success which culminated in a 1974 National Championship.
The University of Waterloo is a large university in southwestern Ontario known mainly for engineering and computer science. One of Bill Gates’ frequent recruiting visit destinations, Waterloo boasts over 30,000 students located in a metropolitan area of over 400,000. The Warriors first basketball team took the court in 1958, the second year of Waterloo’s existence. The Warriors play in the OUA conference of CIS. They have won 5 Wilson Cups as Ontario Conference Champions and 1 National Championship. A trip to see Waterloo on their battlefield can be an enjoyable experience.
200 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
92 King St. S.
Waterloo, ON N2L 2G1
59 King St. North
Waterloo, ON N2J 2X2
170 University Ave. W
Waterloo, ON N2L 2E9
170 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, ON N2L 3E9
59 King St. N.
Waterloo, ON N2J 2X2