For the last 25 years or so, the Ottawa Senators have toiled in the NHL with various degrees of success. After beginning as an expansion team playing out of the Ottawa Civic Centre, and putting up some of the worst seasons in NHL history, the Sens culminated their success earning the Presidents' Trophy in 2003 and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007. During their existence, the Senators have fostered some decent rivalries with the Montreal Canadiens and especially the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Senators are currently owned by former Biovail Chairman Eugene Melnyk. The Canadian Tire Centre (which has formerly been known as the Palladium, Corel Centre, and Scotiabank Place) is owned by the Senators, but is situated more like an NFL stadium rather than an NHL arena. The Canadian Tire Centre is located in Kanata, which is a former city that has been amalgamated into Ottawa, and it is a significant distance from downtown Ottawa proper. Their fans, known as the Sens Army, still flock to the suburbs to catch their team in action. The Senators are your average NHL experience with not too much standing out, but a good outing nonetheless.
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 concession options at the Canadian Tire Centre have improved over time. The Centre has partnered with two fantastic local franchises to improve their overall menu. Smoke's Poutinerie provides the Canadian staple of fries, gravy and cheese curds to the masses. Smoke's also offers a few different varieties and a huge portion. If you have the opportunity, try the Triple Pork Poutine, featuring pulled pork, bacon and Italian sausage.
The Burger Shack has also been added to the Canadian Tire Centre menu. Great burgers and dogs are available here as well.
Other local favourites are available including Pizza Pizza and Tim Horton's. Coca-Cola products are available for soda and Molson and Rickard's products are available for the beer connoisseur.
The Senators have done a pretty good job of dealing with the lack of a neighbourhood surrounding the Canadian Tire Centre. They have a few sit-down restaurants within the arena that you can make reservations for. You may consider Bert's or Chek Point. Reservation information is on the Canadian Tire Centre website.
The outside of the Canadian Tire Centre is nothing all that special. A bit of a unique look, but the striping on the upper facade of the building makes it look a bit like a refugee from the 1980's. There is little glass used and there is a distinct lack of natural light entering the building. The design of the Canadian Tire Centre is similar to the Palace of Auburn Hills where there are a couple of levels that share a concourse. If you are an average fan, and do not hold tickets to the expensive 100 level, then you are immediately greeted by the stairs for which you will enter the upper concourse.
Inside the building the Senators do a fantastic job of showcasing their very unique history. There are murals honouring current and recent past Senators including Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson. There are also current murals advertising various aspects of the team. The slogans for the 2014 season was "Fearless" and "United in Red" which can be found around the arena. There are also a number of framed pictures from the first incarnation of the Sens, over 100 years ago.
In the seating bowl, the trek through history continues with the hanging of the 11 Stanley Cup banners spanning from 1903 through 1927. There is also the retired number 8 of Frank Finnigan, who was the last surviving member of the 1927 Senators Stanley Cup winning team. The Sens also have hung banners for their more recent successes including the 2007 Eastern Conference Championship and the 2003 Presidents' Trophy.
The sightlines in the arena are very good and the ribbon boards and videoboard are more than adequate. The game day presentation is what is to be expected from any other NHL arena. The organist periodically plays from the crowd, but the rest of the presentation is your typical mix of alternative and classic rock with current pop favorites.
The Canadian Tire Centre is not really surrounded by any fantastic neighbourhood. Its location is more akin to an NFL stadium designed to foster tailgating than a typical NHL arena. The surrounding area is developing slowly, however the immediate area offers office buildings and car dealerships. On the other side of the highway there is a box store development that offers a few typical chains. Jack Astor's, Boston Pizza, Kelsey's and Moxie's Classic Grill are all in this area. Being in such a fantastic tourist city such as Ottawa, it would be a much better plan to head downtown and find a more original option for before or after the game. Otherwise, you may choose to make a reservation at one of the restaurants inside the Canadian Tire Centre.
The Sens Army have come a long way, making their fan base one of the stronger in the NHL. The past few seasons the Sens Army has taken to the arena, filling it to capacity, averaging over 19,000 per game. The 2013-2014 season saw a bit of a dip for the Sens Army that coincided with a dip in the on-ice product for the Sens. Generally speaking though, the Sens Army are a quiet group. They are knowledgeable, but will not provide the raucous atmosphere that you will find in Montreal or Chicago.
The Canadian Tire Centre is located in the suburb of Kanata and is a significant distance from downtown Ottawa and the Parliament Buildings. It is located just south of Highway 417, also known as the Trans-Canada Highway. There is plenty of parking surrounding the arena, which offers another significant problem. Similar to Ralph Wilson Stadium, it is extremely difficult to leave the arena. Traffic can take what seems like forever to empty from the parking lots, and there are very few arteries that leave the arena, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Inside, the concourses are not terribly wide, and get pretty jammed up during peak times.
Tickets for the Sens have increased over time, and a trip to see them will cost you far more than a wink and a smile. Tickets are on the more expensive side compared to many other arenas in the NHL, but remain less than the neighbouring Canadiens and Maple Leafs. Concessions are on the expensive side as well and parking will run you over $10. If you consider that the fans will not pump up the energy level, then the return that you will receive for a Sens game is pretty average.
An extra mark for Lyndon Slewidge, a local police officer who sings the national anthems for the Sens. He does a fantastic job, and at times will be the highlight of the game. He finishes off with a wink and salute to the camera, and has become one of the more endearing traditions in the NHL.
An extra mark for the city of Ottawa, which offers numerous tourist attractions and many unique experiences.
An extra mark for the presence of francais at the Canadian Tire Centre, as the signage and announcements are all bilingual.
There is no doubt that you will have a good time if you make the trip to see the Ottawa Senators. The members of Sens Army are friendly and knowledgeable and will add to your enjoyment. They will not blow you away with excitement, and that combined with the location of the arena, makes the Ottawa Senators an average NHL experience.
Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9.
Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario was opened in 1996 and has seating capacity for 19,153 for hockey. Home to the Ottawa Senators, the building is at its best come playoff time, when the hockey atmosphere overwhelms the local fans and citizens of the region. Originally known as the Palladium when it first opened, the edifice is circular in design and follows the cosmetic theme of a gladiator arena in early Roman times. Located in Kanata, twenty-five minutes west of downtown, the building is one of the more attractive new NHL rinks built in the past twenty seasons. However, the selection of the suburb of Kanata as a location for the building is one that has caused much controversy over the years.
Travel time back and forth and the lack of surrounding facilities have been the main complaints, but undertakings over time catering to those concerns have made the Scotiabank Place experience a more pleasureable one. Much has been accomplished to assuage the lack of atmosphere beyond the arena doors over the years with the addition of several restaurants and nightspots within the building.
In order to reconcile the entertainment and distance issues, the Senators organization has seen to it that there is no shortage of options in both regards. Six restaurants and several food and beverage outlets within the arena that include hearty post game entertainment are available for fans. Concessions for quick gulps and bites at every level are spaced adequately from each seating section.
As for travelling to and from Scotiabank Place by any means, the order of the day is to not be in a hurry and plan your trip ahead. Hitting the highway immediately after a game by car is never advised. Bus and rail travelers can head to outbound destinations more swiftly. Upon leaving the arena, if you have elected to park on the east side rather than the south, you can benefit from a newly created covered walkway, sheltering fans from the effects of the winter weather as you walk to your parking space.
Generally speaking, good advice to follow in planning for an enjoyable time would be to arrive at the arena as early as possible, have a look around the arena, and plan post game ideas. Fans arriving at games generally enter the building's east side doors, where the ticket lobby is situated and staircases and escalators lead patrons to all levels upon entrance. If you are arriving in Kanata without a ticket, be aware that come playoff time, an additional 2,000 standing room tickets go on sale on game days. In the event of a sellout, arrive by mid afternoon and look for an older dude parked on the east side facing the main entrance in a 1997 Honda Civic.
Once inside the arena on game nights, the concerns outside the walls are greatly diminished by a superb hockey atmosphere. The arena bowl itself offers clear sightlines to the rink surface, but fourth level seats, especially at goal ends, tend to leave the impression that you will be experiencing half of a hockey game. The video screen over center ice is no help, so avoid these seats if possible.
Not to be forgotten in the Scotiabank Place experience, especially for fans of hockey history, is the fact that the Ottawa Senators first incarnation precedes that of the hockey's Original Six. You want hockey lore - you've got it. The bygone era of the original Ottawa Senators, who played in the NHL from 1917 to 1934 is everpresent. From the the nine Stanley Cup banners that hang from the rafters to walls in the media gallery concourse lined with historical photos documenting the city's hockey history going back to the 1890's, nothing is left uncovered. Several thematic displays line the halls, the most popular covering the Original Six era, the Olympic Games and the evolution of hockey equipment.
One of the great misnomers in hockey history is the idea of the Original Six. It is a common belief that the NHL began with six franchises based in Toronto, New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, and Montreal. The NHL was built on the backs of these six franchises, but they were by no means the "original" group. That notion is especially unfounded in Ottawa where the Senators have won multiple Stanley Cups before the Original Six era began.
The Original Ottawa Senators were founded in 1883 and lasted in the nation's capital until 1954. During that period they won an impressive 11 Stanley Cups. The history of the Senators is deep, but so foregone that it has almost been lost.
In one of the more controversial moves the NHL made, expansion teams were awarded to Tampa Bay and Ottawa in 1992, leaving in the cold the expansion bid of Hamilton. It has been a rocky road for the Senators which has included a trip into bankruptcy. They were rescued by Biovail owner Eugene Melnyk and have been successful since. Their success culminated in a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.
In 1996 the Senators made their move from the cramped Ottawa Civic Centre to what is now known as Scotiabank Place. Owned by the Senators, Scotiabank Place is located in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Located a significant distance from downtown Ottawa, Kanata has been a growing community since the Senators have moved there. The day of this review was on the CBC sponsored Hockey Day in Canada which featured a Saturday afternoon Senators game, and vignettes from this year's hockey town, Summerside, PEI. In Ottawa there was an added bonus; 22 bus loads of Nordique fans from Quebec City who were making the most of an opportunity to show a National audience that they deserved a return to the NHL.
1000 Palladium Drive
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!