- Jordan Falconer
Canada Life Centre – Manitoba Moose
Photos by Jordan Fallconer, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Canada Life Centre 300 Portage Ave Winnipeg, MB R3C 5S4, Canada
Year Opened: 2004
MTS Centre AHL Style
The return of the Manitoba Moose to Winnipeg may not have been as heralded as the return of their parent club, the Winnipeg Jets, but is has been very warmly received. With the return of the NHL to Winnipeg, a lot of families have been squeezed out of the MTS Centre. The Moose provide a family-friendly, affordable and accessible hockey option.
The Moose use only the lower bowl of the MTS Centre. Tickets are $20 or $25 with lots of mini-pack options. Utilizing MTS Centres lower bowl with a capacity of 8,260 the Moose have consistently drawn between 5,000 – 7,000 fans per game with an average approaching 7,000 per game. Mini-pack games see larger crowds and the popular New Year’s Eve game is likely to be a complete sell-out. The Moose will actually open the upper bowl for the New Year’s Eve game this month. Ticket sales are already over 10,000 for the late afternoon game.
Fans heading to the game should not expect a minor-league experience. The in-game production is the same as the Jets – a benefit of sharing the arena. All the sound, lights, effects and promotions are available to and used by the Moose. The Moose use the MTS Centre’s new HD scoreboard and LED power boards throughout the game. In game promotions and giveaways appeal to families and there are ample opportunities for kids to see themselves on the scoreboard’s large HD screens.
Fans can watch for themselves on the Fan Cam, the Flex Cam or the Kiss Cam. These three popular scoreboard features give folks the chance to have some fun. Attending a Moose game is inexpensive and many families have jumped at the chance to get the whole family to a professional hockey game in Winnipeg. The atmosphere in the MTS Centre is definitely family friendly and there are many kids in attendance so this review will reflect and focus on this.
Note: In May, 2017 MTS Centre’s name changed to Bell MTS Place as a result of Bell’s acquisition of MTS. In 2021, the arena’s name changed from Bell MTS Place to Canada Life Centre.
Food & Beverage 5
Once inside MTS Centre for the game, there are many options for those looking to grab some food and beverages. Food options range from regular arena fare (burgers, dogs, pretzels, pizza, fries, etc.) at several locations around the concourse to favourites like Pizza Pizza, Tim Hortons, Moxies, and Local 204 which features local products like Granny’s poultry products. New this year is the Wrap Around, which features wraps for $13 (including beverage). Fans can choose from pork souvlaki, chicken shawarma or falafel and fill their wrap with a variety of fixings.
Options abound at MTS Centre and even the hungriest of fans will be able to fill up on good quality food. From carved beef, pulled pork, and poutine to the usual fare of burgers, dogs, smokies, and fries there are many options for even the hungriest of fans. If you are really hungry, try the Jumbo Jet Dog – an MTS Centre feature and fan favorite.
The Jumbo Jet Dog is a very large hot dog that will run you $9.50 but will fill you up. You may want to share this one with a friend or the whole family! It is also available in a combo for $13.50. In addition to the regular toppings, additional toppings available are what make this a monster. Bacon bits, pierogie pieces, chili or nacho cheese are available for an extra $1.50 each. Try the pierogie pieces and if you are not worried about spilling on your jersey, go for the nacho cheese and chili!
Most concessions will run you about $10 – $15 for an “arena meal.” Beverage prices range from $5 for bottled water, $5.50 for a bottled pop (fountain drinks are $5.25 and $5.75) while beer is $8.50 for a regular draft (12 oz) and $9.50 for a large draft (17 oz). Concession information is available on the MTS Centre website where you can open a document with maps of both concourses that details the concessions available.
The atmosphere at MTS Centre during a Moose game is family friendly. Parents should feel comfortable bringing their kids to the MTS Centre to see the Moose play. The Moose cater to families and provide enough entertainment to occupy the little ones’ attention. While this is not the same atmosphere that one experiences at a Jets game, the MTS Centre fans are still knowledgeable and inviting. Fans cheer loud and proud and the kids get right into it!
While options abound for the pre-gamers, the options for families are not as plentiful. MTS Centre’s central downtown location does make for easy access. Traffic before and after a game is never really an issue as there are many routes in and out of the downtown area.
Family-friendly pre-game meal options are not as plentiful in the immediate area next to MTS Centre. Boston Pizza Cityplace and the food court at Cityplace provide the best options as they are close and the building also has a parkade and is attached to the MTS Centre. Other options might include dinner at the Forks Market before heading over to the game, Carbone Coal Fired Pizza, Ichi Ban Japanese Steakhouse (a more pricey option), Mitzi’s for their famous chicken fingers, or fast food options such as Subway and A&W.
Families should consider dinner at home first or along the way to the MTS Centre rather than planning a stop in the vicinity.
Moose fans are active and engaged in the game. Fans can be heard reacting to penalty calls, chanting the opposition goalie’s name and, of course, cheering on their team as loudly as they can. Mick E. Moose is always firing up a “Go! Moose! Go!” chant and fans are willing to join in.
Fans are knowledgeable about their home team. The fans at MTS Centre create a one of a kind atmosphere making the overall experience for families a positive one. Fans will be decked out in their Moose jerseys and there will be lots in their Jets jerseys as well. Many fans wear their Moose gear from before the Moose left Winnipeg so don’t be confused by the different color schemed jerseys.
If you are a fan who likes to cheer and get involved, grab some seats close to ice level or in the first row. The last rows of the 100 and 200 levels offer great views and there is nobody behind you if you want to stand and stretch your legs. Fans who want to socialize may find the Budweiser King Club, which includes its own bar area and places to stand and watch the game.
Access to MTS Centre is easy. Situated on Winnipeg’s famous Portage Avenue between Donald and Hargraeve, the MTS Centre is easy to get to and easy to get home from after a game as well. It’s a remarkable change for anyone who ever saw a game at the old Winnipeg Arena. One need not leave early from the game to beat the traffic. Fans can stick around to the last whistle and enjoy every moment of the game. MTS Centre is connected to Winnipeg’s extensive downtown indoor walkway system so fans can park, leave jackets in the car and wear only their jerseys to the game while walking indoors.
Return on Investment 5
Prices at MTS Centre are what one would expect for an NHL arena. Families looking for AHL prices won’t find them here. Fans will pay more on site for food than elsewhere so a pre-game visit to your family’s restaurant of choice is a good option. The overall return on investment is excellent, however, due to the low cost of tickets. An evening at the game for two with food, beverage and parking can be under $100. A family of four can get great seats for $80. Add parking ($5 – $10) and some snacks and a family can have a night out for around $120 or less.
The Moose have filled a void in the Winnipeg hockey market. With the return of the Jets it has been difficult and expensive for families to get tickets. The Moose provide an option that is both affordable and accessible as tickets are readily available.
There are several bonus points at MTS Centre during a Moose game. The facility itself is well thought out. Now entering its second decade, the building looks remarkably new thanks to constant renovations and additions. The views are good no matter where you sit.
The new large HD scoreboard scores bonus points for MTS Centre as well. It is easy to see from anywhere in the arena bowl. Be sure to get to your seat early enough to watch the Moose game day production team’s build up to puck drop. From game intro videos and highlights the features prior to the game are worth watching – especially on the large HD screens.
The biggest bonus that MTS Centre provides fans is the family-friendly atmosphere during Moose games. There are plenty of opportunities for the kids to see themselves on the scoreboard and even to interact with Mick E. Moose, the team’s mascot. Fans will also note that there are often players available for autographs after the game. At a recent game, the entire team was available after for autographs and the giveaway included a team puzzle that fans could get signed.