The original Ottawa Senators were founded in 1883. In those early years the team enjoyed unprecedented success including runs of four and three Stanley Cups in a row. Eventually the team would join the new National Hockey League and win another four Stanley Cups. However, the 1930’s would not be productive for the Senators and they would eventually move to St. Louis before being dissolved. Fast forward ahead to 1992 and the Senators would again take the ice to the surprise of most and the chagrin of residents of Hamilton, Ontario. Ottawa would successfully procure an expansion franchise in the NHL when most expected that franchise to go to Hamilton. The early seasons in the second incarnation of the Senators would be wrought with turmoil. Terrible seasons on the ice coupled with front office instability would eventually lead the Senators to be bankrupt. In 2003, Biovail Chair Eugene Melnyk would rescue the Senators, purchasing them and their arena out of bankruptcy court, preserving hockey in the nation’s capital.
The current home for the Senators is the Canadian Tire Centre, located in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Formerly the Palladium, Corel Centre and Scotiabank Place, the Canadian Tire Centre has been panned by critics for its remote location. Controversy followed the Senators in their move from their temporary home at the Ottawa Civic Centre to Kanata. It is widely accepted that the poor location choice for the home of the Senators was due to the owner at the time owning land in Kanata. Over time, the Kanata area has continued to develop and although the Canadian Tire Centre remains far from downtown Ottawa, it is far less isolated than it was in 1992. That being said, there are still rumblings of the Senators seeking a new home closer to downtown Ottawa and a development bid on LeBreton Flats has even taken place.
Since their rescue from the depths of despair in 2003, the Senators have seen quite a bit of success on the ice and at the turnstiles. This has culminated in a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the 2007. The Senators fans have dubbed themselves Sens Army and continue to cry out that Sens fans are United in Red.
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 Canadian Tire Centre has a solid array of concession options.
The Canadian Tire Centre has partnered with a number of well-recognized restaurants to provide Sens fans with a significant variety of concession options. Bytown Grill offers a variety of burger options. The 212 Deli & Pub offers a variety of hand carved sandwiches including roast beef and smoked meat. The Farm Boy Fresh Zone offers a variety of healthier options including sandwiches and salads. Fat Boys has smoked barbecue options and Golden Palace Egg Rolls has homemade egg rolls and plum sauce. Other major chains are present at the Canadian Tire Centre including Pizza Pizza. The spots you probably want to check out are Smoke's Poutinerie and the brand new Smoke's Burritorie. High quality poutine and burritos are on the menu and are really a Canadian staple.
As far as beverages are concerned, you will find Coca-cola products throughout the Canadian Tire Centre. The world famous Tim Hortons is on the premises with their staple hot beverages including coffee. As far as alcoholic beverages go Molson and Rickard's products are readily available. If you head to the Molson Coors Beer Hall you can find a wider variety of beer options.
One of the more unique features of the Canadian Tire Centre is the number of alternative restaurants available in the facility. With the lack of surrounding neighbourhood and difficulty getting out of the parking lots, this became a necessity, but a welcome addition none the less. Reservations are accepted in many restaurants and the Canadian Tire Centre website offers lots of info including reservation info. Bert's and Chek Point are good options in the CTC.
The Canadian Tire Centre offers a pretty good atmosphere for NHL hockey.
The outside of the Canadian Tire Centre is not all that special. While somewhat of a unique look, 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. 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 video board are more than adequate. The ice surface is an east-west configuration. If you are looking for that perfect picture then you want to sit on the north side of the arena. The southwest, upper corner of the Canadian Tire Centre is where you will find the Sens Army supporter section. If you want to sit near the action, then being near 312 is where you want to be.
The in-game production is about what you would expect for an NHL experience. The PA announcer does a decent job, of course offering announcements in both English and French. The music mix is a combination of typical anthem sports rock with pop and traditional hockey organ. One highlight for a Sens game is the National Anthems. The anthems are sung by Lyndon Slewidge, a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer, who sings the anthems in full dress to organ accompaniment. Make sure you are in your seats before the anthem hits!
The neighbourhood in the immediate walking distance of the Canadian Tire Centre is pretty barren, however a very short drive will bring you to an increasingly developing area with a number of options.
Essentially, the Canadian Tire Centre is surrounded by parking lots. This is good for parking, but not so good if you want to find a place to eat. If you head east on Highway 417 just one exit from the CTC, you will find a huge box mall with a variety of eating options. Most of the restaurants in this area are your typical chain tap and grill types including Montana's, Jack Astor's, Baton Rouge, Moxie's and Boston Pizza. A couple of more unique options include Scores, Crazy Horse Stonegrill and Central Bierhaus. Keep in mind that parking can be an issue at this mall as it is very popular before games, so leave lots of time if you want to be there for puck drop. Of course you can also consider one of the restaurants that is in the CTC to alleviate some of these issues.
The Kanata area doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment options. However, the City of Ottawa is a fantastic tourist city with numerous festivals, museums and great things to do. If you are looking for a true experience, and you are in Ottawa in the winter months, then you assuredly want to bring your skates so that you can skate on the Rideau Canal. A tour of the Parliament Buildings is also a great idea and if you are looking for one museum to hit, then the War Museum is like no other. There are also a number of other sporting events in the city. Both the Ottawa RedBlacks of the CFL and Ottawa 67's of the OHL play at Lansdowne Park, right by the Rideau. Carleton University is in town and fields a full slate of athletic teams. The football team plays at MNP Park, the hockey team plays at the Carleton Ice House and the legendary basketball team plays at the Ravens' Nest. Also in town is the University of Ottawa, home of the Gee-Gees. Gee-Gees Field is home for the football team. The Minto Sports Complex is home for the hockey team and Monpetit Hall is home to the basketball team.
There are a couple of hotels in the immediate area surrounding the arena. At the end of Palladium Drive is the Country Inn & Suites. Not far away is the Holiday Inn.
Ottawa Senators fans have come a long way over the years.
Average attendance at Senators games is above the 18,000 fan per game mark. This puts the Senators around the mid-level of the NHL. Percentage of capacity filled for the Sens is around the mid-nineties. These figures are probably part and parcel due to the less than stellar showings the Senators have had on the ice in recent years. There is a little room for improvement but not a ton.
The crowd at a Senators game is generally pretty quiet. They get up and make noise for the big moments, but although they are a sophisticated hockey crowd, they do not produce fan noise like you would find in nearby Montreal. The budding exception is the Sens Army section. Section 312 is where the Sens Army supporter section is located. Sens Army is an attempt to produce a more soccer like atmosphere at a hockey game. It is unique in the NHL, and definitely in the infancy of their existence. Sens Army will bang the drum and chant, but they are not close to the same level of support that you would see at a MLS match. It will be interesting to see what will happen in future years for Sens Army and their growth.
Access to the Canadian Tire Centre is not great, and the location has been the most popular reason for criticizing the CTC.
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. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the game as traffic can be an issue, especially coming from the east.
The city of Ottawa and the Senators have done a pretty decent job of attracting public transit to head to the CTC. Buses run on all of the surrounding streets including Terry Fox Dr., Frank Finnegan Way, Cyclone Taylor Blvd, and Huntmar Dr. Check out the OC Transpo website for rates, schedules and maps to help plan a trip to the CTC.
There is a ton of parking surrounding the CTC. Most patrons head to the game by car and finding a spot is not a problem. Capital Tickets, the Senators ticketing agent, has prepaid parking available on their site which is great for those who wish to keep the mystery out of finding a parking spot. Getting out after the game can be a real issue, with a lack of outlets traffic can be awful. Consider finding a spot in one of the restaurants for a post-game snack.
The main entry for the CTC is on the east end of the arena. Security is the over the top variety with the airport metal detectors. In other words, it is very slow. There are ticket windows at the east side entry also. The plus side for the entry is that there is a significant city-square like area for patrons to wait and meet.
Getting around the CTC is pretty easy with concourses of ample size. Intermissions can get a little crowded of course, but that is par just about anywhere you go. The washroom facilities are also adequate for a venue of this size.
The return on investment for a Senators game is what you would expect from an average NHL experience.
Tickets for the Senators will run between $31 and $250. The Coke Zero zone offers a $30 ticket and may be the spot you want to be. Parking will run between $10 and $15 and concession prices are what you would expect for the NHL. In Ottawa, you will find a nice enough atmosphere and decent fan support. However, the Senators will not provide a once in a lifetime type experience that you may find in Chicago or Montreal. You will have a good time in Ottawa, but you will surely pay for it.
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.
Sens Army is United in Red. You will have a good time if you hit an Ottawa Senators game. You will not be blown away with excitement, and you will probably experience an average NHL experience. It is curious to see if the Sens Army on the Ottawa experience transfers to the NHL experience at large.
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.
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.
601 Earl Grey Dr
Kanata, ON K2T 1K4
115 Roland Michener Dr.
Ottawa, ON K2T 1G7
1755 Old Carp Road
Kanata, ON K2K 1X7
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8