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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex - Windsor Lancers

Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey.

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex

2555 Pulford St

Windsor, ON N9E 4H5

Year Opened: 1970

Capacity: 500

Lancers on Ice

The southern point of Ontario finds a traveler at Windsor, Ontario. Higher education in Windsor is found right on the border of Windsor and the Detroit River. The University of Windsor was established in 1857 as Assumption College. In 1956, when public funding models in Ontario changed for post-secondary education institutions, Assumption was renamed the University of Windsor and adapted a more secular model.

Athletics has been a big part of Windsor student life for quite a while. The Windsor Lancers hockey team first took the ice in 1964 as Assumption College. The Lancers would join the OUAA, precursor to the OUA, in 1971. The Lancers would play at the venerable Windsor Arena. With the OHL’s Spitfires moving across town to a new building and the city finding that the upkeep on the old building was just too much, the old arena was set to be demolished and the Lancers were forced to find a new home. Since 2013, the Lancers have played south of campus at the South Windsor Recreation Complex. The complex was built in 1970 and renovated and renamed in 2017. Currently known as the Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex after a naming rights deal was signed with a local pizza restaurant, the CPRC is a hub for local recreation with a pair of hockey pads, gymnasium and other activity rooms.

The Lancers are putting forth a strong effort to bring the students south, off campus to come out and support the Lancers. The CPRC is a throwback to those old youth hockey mornings that so many Canadian families remember fondly.

Food & Beverage 4

The concession items at the Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex are better that one would expect for an OUA hockey facility. The Lancers have the advantage of playing in a complex that is a hub of the community and needs to service more people than just those Lancer fans. Rico’s Food & Refreshment provides concession options. The concession is just outside of the rink, which offers easy access to fans. Onion rings, sweet potato fries, chicken fingers, hot dogs, tuna, roast beef or turkey sandwiches, poutine and pogos are all available in a surprisingly diverse menu.

A variety of hot and cold beverages are also available for purchase. Pepsi products are the soda of choice and coffee, tea, cappuccino and hot chocolate are examples of hot beverages available. The temperature inside the rink may force fans to make the hot beverage selection. Prices are very affordable and surprising. Combos are also available to save some money. A plethora of vending machines can also be found around the complex.

Atmosphere 3

Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex is a community hub that services far more than just the Windsor Lancers. The exterior of the complex is nothing overly special. It still has that seventies feel to it with the brown brick and red trim. Being of a larger purpose, there is not much in the way of Windsor Lancer markings on the exterior.

Once inside, the 2017 renovation becomes fairly obvious. The differences between the modern area and the seventies area are like night and day. Heading toward Rink 1 is where the Lancers can be found. A temporary ticket table sits between the concession stand and the entry to the rink, ready to welcome patrons. Inside the rink, it becomes a little more obvious that this is the home of the Lancers as some team markings can be found.

The rink itself lends itself to the “hockey barn” ideal, with the wooden, peaked roof with tin-foil insulation lining it. The ice surface runs from east to west with the seating on the north side of the ice. Capacity for the rink is perfect at 500. The east wall features a simple scoreboard, while the south wall has a number of youth hockey banners hanging. It is here that the 1998 and 2014 Queen’s Cup conference championship banners can be found along with the retired number 23 for Ken Minello, the all-time leading scorer in Windsor Lancer history.

Unfortunately, the scoreboard does not track the shots on goal, which can be very annoying. The other key element of the rink is the temperature, it is darn cold! Being able to see one’s breath when watching the game is not unheard of in the Capri Complex. When selecting a seat, fans should consider looking up to the old-school, propane heaters that sit above the seating area. Choosing a seat that is under a heater may be the difference between an enjoyable or not-enjoyable event.

The game day production at a Windsor Lancers game is very simple. It fits with the environment. Fans have the opportunity to sit right on top of the action, where everything seems to move faster and feel bigger. The sounds of the game are prevalent this close and Windsor does its fans a service by not overproducing the game.

Neighbourhood 3

The Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex is located in South Windsor at Oakwood Park, approximately six kilometers from the University of Windsor campus. The location for the arena is very suburban and fans are going to need to take transit or the car to find a pre or post game spot for a meal. The most options that are close by can be found on the EC Row Expressway. Chain restaurants like Moxies, the Mandarine, and the Keg are all found close by. For something a little more original, try the Southside Grill or Cramdon’s Tap and Eatery.

There are a number of entertainment options available in Windsor. As far as sports go, the Lancers also field a football team at Alumni Field at the University of Windsor Stadium and basketball in the St. Denis Centre. The Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League are the crown jewel of the city and they play at the WFCU Centre. It is also not inconceivable to hop the border to the north and catch one of the multitude of Detroit sport franchises. Other entertainment options to consider include Caesars Windsor and Adventure Bay Family Water Park.

For fans wishing to stay in the Windsor area, there are a number of hotels available. The Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn & Suites Windsor are good options to consider.

Fans 3

Fans for almost all OUA hockey spots are of the die-hard variety. OUA hockey does not bring out big crowds usually. The Windsor Lancers usually draw around 200 fans per game, which ranks in the middle of the conference. Many other programs have a signature game to draw from, which skews attendance figures annually. However, Windsor does not currently have a game like that. The Lancers benefit from a small capacity at Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex. Even though the Lancers do not draw much more than most other programs, the atmosphere at Capri is solid. Such a small capacity makes Capri seem full all the time. The fans in attendance are pretty loud and supportive. There are a surprisingly high number of students who make the trek from campus to catch the games, which is great.

Access 4

The Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex is located in the neighbourhood of South Windsor, in Oakwood Park. The neighbourhood is nestled south of EC Row Expressway and east of highway 401 and the arena can be found on Pulford Street on the west end of the neighbourhood. Getting to the arena is easy as it is so close to the highways. There is plenty of free parking available at the complex for fans who are coming by car. Public transit is available near the complex and many students take transit from campus to the games. For fans interested in public transit, check out the Transit Windsor website for maps, fares and schedules.

Tickets are purchased or picked up at the temporary table outside of the rink entry. Lineups are not a huge issue. The washroom facilities are shared with the rest of the complex. Washrooms are quite large and more than adequate for Windsor Lancers games. However, they are not right in the rink but this is not a huge deal.

Return on Investment 4

Canadian university hockey provides a phenomenal value for the sporting dollar. Tickets for the Lancers go for only $8. Discounts are available for seniors and students. University of Windsor students are free. There is plenty of free parking for patrons and the concession prices are pretty good. The action on the ice is fast-paced and pure making OUA and Windsor Lancers hockey one of the best kept secrets out there.

Extras 2

An extra mark for the lineage that saw the Lancers play in the venerable Windsor Arena, before moving to South Windsor.

An extra mark for the perfect fans to capacity ratio.

Final Thoughts

The Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex is a great location for OUA hockey. The Windsor Lancers enjoy a classic, Canadian hockey barn that has the perfect capacity for their needs. Fans will be able to be right on top of the action and able to enjoy all of the sounds and sights of the game in its most pure form. Checking out a Windsor Lancers game is well worth the money and an experience that will surprise many.

Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

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