There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Greg Johnston, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
It seems that when one storm passes, another storm is on its way. The Halifax Hurricanes started playing in the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) in the 2015-2016 season as an expansion team. Hurricanes replaced the bankrupt and defunct Halifax Rainmen after a bizarre situation during the 2014-2015 NBLC finals against the Windsor Express.
After one season in the American Basketball Association, and three seasons in the Premier Basketball League, former Rainmen owner Andre Levingston struggled to find a suitable league for his franchise, and founded the NBLC in 2011. In four NBLC seasons, Rainmen reached the finals twice, losing both years, including their fateful last season (2015). The 2015 championship series was a brutal, best of seven match up featuring multiple vicious flagrant fouls throughout the series. With the series tied at three, game seven was scheduled to be played in Windsor, Ontario. Reportedly, Rainmen players showed up for a scheduled shoot-around at Windsor’s home arena, only to find the lights out and no basketballs around. Moments later, Express players and coaches arrived with their own basketballs shooting on one end of the court. A brawl ensued after a Rainmen player confiscated one of the balls. Chairs were thrown and threats were touted to Rainmen players. As a team, the Rainmen decided playing the game would be too dangerous, thinking the game would be rescheduled. Instead, the league decided the Rainmen forfeited the game, and awarded the championship to the Express. Following this embarrassing incident for the league, players and coaches were fined, suspended, and a few were banned from ever playing in the league again. This, along with other financial instabilities, forced the Rainmen to declare bankruptcy and fold.
With over 20 shareholders in place (including Levingston), professional basketball quickly returned to Halifax the next season. Hurricane owners erased Rainmen history from acknowledgement, although team colours remain similar.
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".
Scotiabank Centre normally offers quality food and drink options for near sold-out events. However, with the Hurricanes drawing sparse crowds, expect only a few concession stands to be staffed, and serving the same variety of options. Burgers, sausages, hot dogs, and chicken fingers are the featured items on the menu for around $5. Combos that include fries and a drink are available and highlight the menu board. Closed concession stands tease you with exposed menu items like "donair" and "BBQ" that you may actually crave more. Bud Light & Alexander Keith's are beers available on tap for $6.50, and Coke fountain products are offered in two different sizes. Vendors accept cash, debit and credit cards.
Recommendation: Sausage with an Alexander Keith's beer.
With the arena's glass and brick bottom, topped with concrete panels and the exposed underside of seating rows extruding past the exterior wall, Scotiabank Centre is distinguishable from Brunswick Street. The topography, along with the quality of architecture, slopes quickly downhill from Brunswick Street. Blank walls line the declining sides with seemingly no end in sight. The mass is further grotesque as the old convention centre is attached to the arena to the east. Bars and restaurants surround the most popular entrance into Scotiabank Centre, but are noticeably sparse and quiet. As doors open, it is hard to believe a professional basketball game is about to begin. No signs or banners welcome the crowd or draw walk-up patrons to purchase tickets.
Immediately after your ticket is scanned, the dance team called the "Weather Girls" greet you with a free single-paged program filled with sponsors on one side, and limited information about the team's roster on the other. The lower seating bowl consists of 16-22 rows of seats a full 360 degrees around the court. The twenty-one rows of seats on the upper level are normally cut down to three rows due to a drawn curtain meant to cut down the empty, cavernous feel. With hockey boards and glass still in position on both ends of the arena, the basketball setup looks tacky and lazy. Merchandise and a popcorn/beer stand fill the areas behind the basketball nets. Over forty skyboxes are located in a horseshoe style around the court. Handicapped seating is available nearly all the way around the seating bowl at the concourse level. Overall, Scotiabank Centre has good viewing angles to catch all the action from the centre court seats. It is recommended to avoid seats behind the basket, you may feel farther away from the game than necessary.
Scotiabank Centre took over the naming rights of the Halifax Metro Centre in 2014. As part of the naming rights, a promise was made, and delivered, in the summer of 2015 to renovate the out-of-date arena. Included in the plans were new seats to replace the degrading hard metal orange seats. The new padded seats are comfortable, and are equipped with cup holders for everyone. The four-sided scoreboard hanging from mid-court is small and simple with a good video display. During breaks in game action, crowds remain focused on the court as the mascot "Swish" break-dances with smooth fluidity in a Hurricanes jersey over a full-body, tight spandex outfit.
Scotiabank Centre is located in the heart of downtown Halifax. Seemingly endless options for educational attractions and unique dining experiences are within a few minutes walk to the arena. Start your game day excursion with a walk along the waterfront and explore Historic Properties and the Seaport Farmers Market. Next, go to the Maritime museum and learn about the tragic Halifax Explosion, or the role Halifax played when the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic Ocean. Then sit down to a high quality meal at A Mano for Italian, or the Wooden Monkey for a unique, locally sourced menu.
It is no secret the league struggles to draw big crowds. In fact, NBLC attendance figures are purposely not published on websites or box scores, most likely due to the underwhelming numbers. When the Rainmen started in 2007, Halifax was a league leader in attendance figures drawing between 4,000-5,000 fans a game. Attendance has been declining since, and the debacle of how the 2015 season ended certainly lost appeal for many Halifax fans. But the fans that have followed the team are boisterous throughout the game. Fans start chants without motivation from the video board and react to every play. The dedicated fans undoubtedly heighten the experience of attending a Hurricanes game. With greater team exposure to the community, attendance should improve in coming years.
Several Canadian airports offer direct flights to Halifax. Only a handful of American cities fly directly to Halifax. Though airfare can be expensive, flying is an easier option than driving from anywhere outside the Maritimes.
Halifax offers ample free downtown parking around Scotiabank Centre on weekends and after 6pm on weekdays. If the nearest parking spot is deemed too far away, two pay-to-park garages are within a block of the arena. 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 downhill (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 easiest wheelchair accessible entrance is from the Brunswick and Duke Street corner. Here the doors are level with the concourse.
The concourse runs continuously around the bowl and easy to navigate. Finding your seat should be straightforward with highly visible signs pointing the way. The east concourse supplies plenty of standing tables to eat your food and stretch your legs at halftime. Restroom locations are plentiful, but can be difficult to find. On the east concourse, newly renovated restrooms are downstairs. The welcomed renovations to all restrooms included combining them for larger spaces, adding more water closets, and removing wall-hung sinks for central fountains.
Ticket prices for an individual Hurricanes game are practical for witnessing the only professional sports team in town. Tickets are $19 for an adult, with discounts for seniors, students, and children. For basketball fans knowing they will attend several times a season, 5 game packs are available for around 30% discount over individual game tickets. Special pricing is also offered for group and sports team game packs with a minimum of 10 people. Games are family friendly with Swish and the Weather Girls encouraging the fans to stay loud throughout the game, and you may go home with a souvenir if you can catch it from the t-shirt cannon.
Bonus point for free admission into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame with a paid ticket. A number of plaques indicate Halifax's basketball past. The main highlight is seeing the damage Sidney Crosby did to a dryer as he practiced his slap shot growing up.
Professional basketball in Halifax is looking for a fresh start after the Rainmen's shady past. Will the Hurricanes be able to win back fans when the Rainmen's controversial owner is a Hurricanes shareholder? It looks as though it will take some time for the city to fully embrace this franchise. Hopefully the new players get involved in the community and become recognizable to Halifax citizens the way a few Rainmen players did. Hurricanes could improve their marketing and game day experience outside the arena to spread the excitement of attending a game. Until then, a Hurricanes game is a well-kept secret from the casual basketball fan. Give a Hurricanes game a try, you may just be blown away by the action.
There are no crowd reviews yet. Be the first and help us build with your expertise!
1477 Lower Water St.
Halifax, NS B3J 2C6
5425 Sackville St.
Halifax, NS B3J 2C6
1875 Barrington St.
Halifax, NS B3J 3L6
5120 Salter St.
Halifax, NS B3J 0A1