Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
250-B Boul. Wilfrid-Hamel
Québec City, QC G1L 5A7
Year Opened: 2015
Le foyer des Nordiques du Québec à l’avenir
In 1995 the Québec Nordiques of the NHL moved from Québec City to Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche would win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado, adding salt to the wound of the Nordiques fans. Hockey history is strong in the capital city of Québec and plans to bring the NHL back to town began to flourish. The first part of the plan involved the QMJHL. In 1997 the Québec Remparts returned to the Colisée Pepsi, moving from Beauport. With hockey returning to Québec, the next part of the plan was up to the fans. Fans came out to support the Remparts in droves providing attendance numbers unseen in the entire Canadian Hockey League, let alone the QMJHL. With the ownership of hometown hero Patrick Roy for a number of years, the Remparts flourished. The current iteration of the Remparts is actually the second to call Québec City home. The original run went from 1969 to 1985 and the original Remparts eventually moved to Longueuil and then Verdun before folding in 1994. Both versions of the team have seen success with each version winning a Memorial Cup. The 1971 and 2006 Memorial Cup championship continued the winning tradition in Québec City.
The next part of the plan may be the most important. With the support of current Remparts owner, communications giant Québecor, the city and province of Québec built a brand new, NHL ready facility in Centre Vidéotron. Located right next door to the venerable Colisée Pepsi, the new facility opened in 2015 and is just waiting for the NHL to make a return. However, until that day comes, the Québec City fans continue to come out to support their Remparts in droves and continue to prove to the NHL that their town is as much a hotbed of hockey as anywhere.
Food & Beverage 4
Centre Vidéotron is ready for the major leagues and the concessions in the arena are also ready for the big time. There are a number of different concessions in the main concourse on the 100 level which is where nearly all of the fans are for a Remparts game. All of the expected items are available including hot dogs ($4.50), burgers, fries, pizza ($8.75), pretzels, popcorn ($6.50) and nachos. No Québec location would be complete without the Québecois staple, poutine and it is available as well. A decent variety of ice creams can be found at the major concession areas for fans with the sweet tooth. Other options that are a little more original include soups and gourmet salads as well as a variety of sandwiches including a Philly Cheesesteak. One of the biggest concession areas is also the one you would expect the least … the sushi concession.
Coca-Cola products ($4/$5) are the featured soda at Centre Vidéotron. Other soft drinks include Van Houtte coffee and hot chocolate as well as water and juice. A few alcoholic beverage options are also available. The beer selection includes Budweiser, Bud Light and Corona as well as local beers from the Archibald Microbrasserie. Wine is also available at concessions.
The atmosphere at a Remparts game is excellent. It begins with the approach to Centre Vidéotron. Located on the Exhibition grounds and right beside Colisée Pepsi, the improvement between the two venues is immediately noticeable. Centre Vidéotron is a sleek, rounded design, looking far more modern than many throwback-looking venues. The exterior is light and silver and from first glance looks like it is a major sports venue.
Upon entering Centre Vidéotron, fans are thrust into the main atrium which also houses security. A large team store can be accessed from this level and once fans are past security it is up the stairs or escalator to the main concourse level. Concourses are wide and bright with a few tables for different local causes and the Remparts fan group. One stop that must be made in the concourse is the Gardien Ultime, where fans can test their goaltending abilities in a virtual reality environment. Pillars in the main concourse are wrapped with pictures of players, fans and local celebrities, including a pillar featuring legendary Université Laval Rouge et Or football coach Glen Constantin.
The concourse is open concept, behind the top row in the lower level of the seating bowl. The state of the art video board is immediately in view. It is not as oppressively large as will be found in many major facilities, however it is a decent size and crystal clear. The technology continues to be in focus with two rings of ribbon boards around the arena and a crystal clear audio system. Tradition then takes over with a plethora of banners hanging above the ice. The south side of the video board features older banners for Québec teams. These include Allan Cup, Alexander Cup and Edimbourg Trophy banners for the Québec Aces, an amateur Québec Hockey League team that turned professional and had a bit of a run in the American Hockey League. Their most famous son was the 1951-1953 run of Montréal Canadiens legend, Jean Béliveau, who has a banner recognizing this achievement. Banners honouring retired Québec Nordiques numbers for Jean-Claude Tremblay, Marc Tardif, Michel Goulet and Peter Stastny hang proudly with the 1977 Avco Cup banner. There are even banners highlighting Stanley Cup Championships in 1912 and 1913 for the Québec Bulldogs and the retired number of former Bulldog, Joe Malone. The north side of the video board is dedicated to the achievements of both incarnations of the Remparts. Four Coupes du Président and the 1971 and 2006 Memorial Cups are immortalized here. Numbers of former Remparts Real Cloutier, Guy Chouinard, André Savard and Guy Lafleur from the first incarnation of the Remparts are joined by the retired numbers of Simon Gagné, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Alexander Radulov and former coach and general manager, Patrick Roy. The ice surface runs from north to south and the west side of the arena is the spot to get the perfect centre ice picture. The south end of the arena, at the concourse level has the Rempart, where fans turn the claxon which signals the beginning of the period or a Remparts goal.
Even with the upper level curtained off, which is common in the Canadian Hockey League for clubs who play in NHL venues, the production at Centre Vidéotron is nothing but professional. The in game production is smooth and the Remparts use all of their technology in a professional manner, thinking details right through to the end. Champion, the Remparts mascot, makes his way through the crowd and has a presence on the ice in pregame ceremonies.
Québec City is an excellent tourist destination. Centre Vidéotron is located northwest of Old Québec, the main tourist destination. There are a few spots of note in the immediate area. On the opposite side of Autoroute Laurentienne is a large shopping mall which contains a few spots to grab a bite before the game. East Side Mario’s, Restaurant Normandin and Valentine are all right there along with other chains. In Old Québec there are tons of options. Café Buade is the oldest restaurant in Québec City and definitely worth the spot. Others include Le Petit Château, Brasserie Française chez Jules and D’Orsay Restaurant. This list just scratches the surface in Old Québec.
Other sporting options in Québec City surround Université Laval. The Rouge et Or are probably the premier football program in USports and play at Stade Telus. Among other sports, the Rouge et Or also compete in basketball at PEPS. The Exhibition grounds, where Centre Vidéotron is located, also host other events. Across Autoroute Laurentienne is Salon de jeux Québec, which is the local casino. In Old Québec it is Carnaval de Québec which is the biggest tourist attraction. Visitors will most definitely want to wander around Old Québec, a walled city, and check out the Citadelle and the Plains of Abraham, where the final battle between the English and French took place.
Hôtel & Suites Normandin is probably the best bet for fans who desire to stay close to Centre Vidéotron. However, if it is the full Québec experience that is desired, staying at the Château Frontenac is the way to go.
Québec City fans are proving that they are ready for an NHL return and have been doing so for a number of years. The Remparts dominate attendance figures in the QMJHL. Each season averaging between 9,000 and 10,000 fans per game, the Remparts have a lock on the highest attendance in the Q. As compared to the rest of the Canadian Hockey League, Québec is consistently in the top four. The Remparts have also taken their turn with the top attendance in the entire CHL and usually compete with the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings for that honour. Fans at Centre Vidéotron are a little more laid back than expected. However, in a playoff atmosphere or for a big game, the Remparts faithful can get very loud. Fans are knowledgeable and love to get on the case of the referee.
Centre Vidéotron is located in the Lairet neighbourhood of Québec City, northwest of Old Québec. It is nestled neatly between major highways Autoroute 973 and Autoroute 40. Getting to Centre Vidéotron by car is not very difficult and the Exhibition grounds are very large with plenty of parking. Fans wishing to get to Centre Vidéotron by public transit are in luck. There are buses that travel Avenue du Colisée and Boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel. Check out the Réseau de Transport de la Capitale website for maps, fares and schedules.
The ticketing area is in the main atrium, which is expansive and spacious. Getting around Centre Vidéotron is not difficult. Although the attendance for Remparts games is among the highest in the CHL, it is still not close to capacity. Combined with the open concept, wide concourses moving around the arena is not difficult at all. The washroom facilities are also more than adequate.
Return on Investment 5
Major Junior hockey in Canada remains a top tier value. Adult tickets for the Remparts can be found for an astonishing $17 to $19. Significant discounts for children, students and seniors are also available. The opportunity to see top notch hockey in a professional building such as Centre Vidéotron is not to be missed. Remparts tickets are even a bargain compared to Ontario Hockey League experiences. Fans who drive will be required to pay around $8 for parking. Concession prices are also decent. Overall, the Québec Remparts are an experience where the return can’t get too much better for the investment put forward by fans.
An extra mark for the unique use for the old Colisée Pepsi. As of this writing, Colisée Pepsi is being used as a training facility for Cirque du Soleil.
An extra mark for maintaining the history of Québec hockey in Centre Vidéotron with Québec Aces and Nordiques banners along with Remparts honours.
An extra mark for a community that is doing all of the right things to bring the National Hockey League back to town.
It seems like it’s just a matter of time until there is a National Hockey League team back in Québec City. When that happens, it will no doubt signal the return of the Nordiques. However, until that point in time, the Québec Remparts are a wonderful opportunity to see an amazing facility in one of the top tourist destinations in the country. The Remparts offer a return on investment that is as good as you can get. The main question is, what are you waiting for?