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Official Review by Mike Poirier, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Sudbury Wolves are one of three teams in the OHL that call Northern Ontario home, and have been a member of the Ontario Hockey League since the 1972-1973 season. One thing that has been consistent for the team is their home rink, the Sudbury Community Arena. Despite having some of the most knowledgeable fans, the Wolves franchise hasn’t had much in the way of success, but experiencing a Wolves game on a Sudbury Saturday Night is a must for any OHL fan.
The Sudbury Arena can hold 5,100 people for a game, but is often used as the main venue for concerts and other shows that make their way through the area. The most unique thing about the Wolves experience occurs whenever they find the back of the net. A stuffed wolf, which hangs from the rafters in one of the far corners, is rolled out towards the visiting bench above the ice surface in celebration. It’s pretty strange, but cool in a unique sense.
The arena is located right in the heart of downtown Sudbury, and was constructed in 1951. There is plenty of parking, but it will cost you a couple of dollars to use the lot directly across from the arena on Elgin and Minto Streets.
When you walk in the front entrance, it feels like you are travelling back in time with the marble walls and green trim. Large windows at the front allow for natural light to enter. There is a large set of stairs that takes you to the main bowl, and a ramp to the lower concession area which has a basement feel. There are concession stands around the upper bowl of the arena, and down below in each corner. The Sudbury Wolves also have a merchandise area, which has a lot of items you would see at other OHL rinks, but there are also several unique options which can be fun for the younger crowd.
Another unique feature of the Sudbury Arena includes the player entrance, which sees the players walk through the basement corridor to get to the ice surface. Ushers block pedestrian traffic to allow the players to make their way from the dressing room to the bench, but it’s a great way for fans to connect with the players either before, during or after the game.
The team also has an honor wall in the main bowl which celebrates the likes of Randy Carlyle, Mike Fisher, Mike Foligno, Dale Hunter and others who were past members of the hockey club. It’s great to see how much history the team puts on display, which is fitting with the barn feel you get when you take in a game at the Sudbury Arena.
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".
There are a lot of items you would come to expect for a hockey game. Pizza, candy, fries, pop and beer. A personal favorite are the fries at the Sudbury Arena. Not sure what it is about them, but they are the best fries in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Sudbury Arena can be one of the loudest rinks in the OHL, but recent struggles have resulted in a dip in attendance. Fans in Sudbury love their hockey, and are some of the best for striking up a conversation about the team, or simply to discuss the good old days, such as the magical run to the OHL Final in 2007, which saw the Wolves lose out in six games to the Plymouth Whalers. If there is a winning product on the ice, it can be intimidating for visiting fans as Sudbury fans are very passionate, and that includes some who like to howl from the stands.
Having the Sudbury Arena downtown is convenient, but still a bit of a walk to the mainstream restaurants and shops. There is a train station across the street from the rink, along with a coffee shop, and a few restaurants. If you are going to a game in the middle of winter, it can be a frigid walk from the rink to the car as Sudbury is known for having some very cold winter nights.
There is a Best Western just up the road on Minto Street, which is perfect for those who want to stay over and not have to worry about driving to the game. There are a few solid options for pre and postgame meals downtown as well. Some spots you may want to try would include the Doghouse, The Old Rock Roastery and Wacky Wings. The Sudbury Theatre Centre is right up the street as well. You would also want to consider hitting Sudbury tourist attractions including Science North (where you can pet a porcupine) and The Big Nickel, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Wolves fans are some of the most passionate fans you will meet in the OHL. They are not afraid to speak their mind and let the officials know it whenever there may be a questionable call on the ice. Sudbury may be known as the Nickel City, but it is also a hockey city that loves their OHL club. The fan base has been waiting patiently for a winner, and once playoff hockey arrives, the old barn on Elgin can be one of the loudest rinks in the league.
Getting to the rink is no problem, and as long as you're ok with paying a little to park, that's not an issue either. There are other lots and streets where you can park for free, but it can be a bit of a walk, and if it's -30 degrees outside, it can feel like a very long walk to and from the rink.
Once inside the area, it's fairly easy to navigate your way around. There are some bottlenecks at the concessions stands, and one section is dedicated to club ticket holders only, so you can't walk around the upper bowl if you have a regular ticket.
You can never go wrong with attending a Sudbury Wolves game. It's a great night out for the family, and there are plenty of extras going on in between the hockey action. The teams does a free t-shirt toss during the first intermission, and local minor hockey teams tend to take to the ice during the second intermission. If you are simply a fan of old school atmosphere, then the Sudbury Arena is your kind of rink, with plenty to see.
How often can you say you went to a hockey game, and saw a stuffed wolf rolled through the rafters? You can't, unless you go to an OHL game in Sudbury. The wolf is something everyone talks about when they attend a game in Sudbury for the very first time, which makes it a memorable night and a fun extra.
Another extra point for the longevity of this fine building.
An extra mark for that community feel that you get in Sudbury.
Despite the rink's flaws, the Sudbury Community Arena is a fun rink to visit within the OHL circuit. It's a trip down memory lane, and is the last classic barn standing in the league as cities build the cookie cutter facilities for their teams. There has been talk of a new arena being built in Sudbury which is a long time coming, but the barn on Elgin is a must see.
Member Review by profan9 on Feb 25, 2013
How can a team that has been around for so long have had such little success? That is the question we find we are asking ourselves about the Sudbury Wolves. A stalwart franchise in the OHL, the Wolves have had very little success in the post-season. Appearing in the J.Ross Robertson Cup Finals to crown the OHL champions only 2 times in the last forty plus years, and no trips to the Memorial Cup tournament to crown the top team in Junior Hockey, the Wolves are a perplexing entity. The Wolves hold the dubious distinction of having the longest Memorial Cup drought in the OHL and the third longest in the Canadian Hockey League.
The Wolves have been in the OHL since its reorganization in 1972, and were part of the junior circuit before that. They have been owned by the Burgess family for the last 25 years, and play in what is really one of the true gems in all of junior hockey.
The Sudbury Community Arena, owned by the city, is absolutely unique, and a joy to see for any traveler or hockey aficionado. Perhaps it is the Wolves’ Northern Ontario location that is a challenge for them, or perhaps it’s just bad luck, but either way, true success is due to come the Wolves way any minute. Their fans are deserving, and they are waiting.
Member Review by staples1311 on Mar 17, 2013
I have been to the Sudbury Arena many times and it has gotten a little worse each time. While the newer renovations are nice, you need the overpriced club seats to even access that portion of the arena. The concessions are about normal for the OHL and have improved.(Popcorn used to only be available at one kiosk)
Parking will cost $3 to $5 unless you show up early and get a street spot, but you may want to pay for the lots because the arena is in a unsafe area. Fans are generally good except a group that bother other fans from out of town, Especially if the Hometown Wolves are losing. The concourses below are difficult to navigate and the upper concourse has much less traffic and are easier to get around. Washrooms always have long lineups, and look like they have been there since it opened without being renovated(Newer ones are really good)
Extras would be the wolf that comes out when they score and passionate fans. It would be good for the city to renovate it or build Wolves fans a new Den.
212 Romanet Ln
Sudbury, ON P3E 3N8
212 Minto St
Sudbury, ON P3E 3G9
170 Shaughnessy St
Sudbury, ON P3E 3E6
100 Ramsey Lake Rd
Sudbury, ON P3E 5S9
151 Larch St
Sudbury, ON P3E 1C3