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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Iroquois Lacrosse Arena - Six Nations Arrows


Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86


Iroquois Lacrosse Arena

3201 2nd Line

Hagersville, ON N0A 1H0



Year Opened: 2004

Capacity: 2,300


The Heart of Lacrosse


South of Brantford, through the farmland of Southern Ontario, lives one of many hearts of lacrosse.  Six Nations Indian Reserve No. 40, more commonly known as Six Nations contains the town of Ohsweken and is just north of Hagersville.  At the southern corner stands an inconspicuous, warehouse-looking building that houses the hopes and dreams of countless Indigenous children.  The Iroquois Lacrosse Arena was built in 2004 by lacrosse legends Curt Styres and Delby Powless and is a lacrosse-only facility, one of the only ones built in Canada specifically for lacrosse.


Several lacrosse teams call Iroquois Lacrosse Arena home and possibly the most popular is the Six Nations Arrows of the Junior A, Ontario Junior Lacrosse League.  The Arrows have been around since 1974 and began as a Junior C team.  Originally known as the Six Nations Braves, the Arrows moniker would be adopted in 1979. 


Six Nations would step up to Junior B status after their first season and would remain there until 1989, culminating in the 1987 Tier II Championship.  In 1990 the Arrows would make the final step to Junior A and go on to enjoy tremendous success.  The Arrows would bring home the Iroquois Cup as Ontario Champions nine times. 


The Arrows would bring home the ultimate prize, the Minto Cup as National Champions in 1992, 2007, 2014, 2015, and 2017.  The list players who have gone from the Arrows to the National Lacrosse League is a who’s who of lacrosse royalty including Cody Jamieson, Doug Jamieson, Craig Point, Shawn Evans, Cam Bomberry, Johnny Powless, Delby Powless, Randy Staats, Leo Stouros, Brett Bucktooth and Warren Hill. 


Food & Beverage 3

The concession experience at a Six Nations Arrows game is better than one would expect.  Several vending machines can be found around the arena, mostly selling drinks.  However, adjacent to the arena is Bowcasters, which offers several arena offerings. 


One part concession stand and one part convenience store, Bowcasters is a cash-only facility that has many different offerings.  Hot dogs, poutine, fries, sausage, burger sandwiches, fruit, mac salad, and wraps are all available. A variety of soft drink options are also available as well as ice cream.  Prices are surprisingly good.  A bottle of water, for example, is only $1.


Atmosphere 5

The exterior of the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is nothing special.  Looking more like a warehouse than a sports facility with its drab siding, the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena shares space with Bowcasters, Arrow Express offices, ILA Sports, and Leroy Jamieson Fitness Centre.


Fans enter the building on the east side and are welcomed by temporary tables and booths for ticket sales, a 50/50 draw, programs, and a bit of merchandise.  From there, the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is a treasure hunter’s dream.  There are trophy cases and displays for the Arrows, including championship team pictures.  There are also displays for the Senior A, Six Nations Chiefs of Major Series Lacrosse, the Junior B Six Nations Rebels, and teams that Curt Styres has owned including the Hamilton and Toronto Nationals formerly of Major League Lacrosse, the Rochester Knighthawks and Styres’ current team, the Halifax Thunderbirds of NLL. 


Even better, there are displays and profiles for lacrosse pioneers and a history of lacrosse and the Mann (Sr.) and Minto Cups.  Entering the seating bowl, fans will find that the floor runs from west to east with seats around three sides of the turf floor.  Orange arena seats are found at the south and east sides and orange benches are on the west side. 


Purple trim is also found throughout the seating area, completing the color scheme of the traditional Haudenosaunee, formerly the Iroquois, flag.  The north side of the arena is littered with championship banners from multiple levels, fourteen of which belong to the Arrows.  Simple scoreboards are found at both east and west ends, the east flanked by the Canadian and Haudenosaunee flags.


The gameday production at an Arrows game is fairly simple.  During warmups, there isn’t much in the way of music.  Before the game begins, a traditional Indigenous dance is performed with a song and drum.  No national anthems are otherwise played.  Unlike a NLL game, there is no music during the play.  There are some “Indigenous” sound effects during the game.



Neighbourhood 2

Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is located approximately 10 km south of the town of Ohsweken, and north of the town of Hagersville, in a rural area at the southern tip of the reservation.  Fans will not be walking to any sort of attraction.  The Burger Barn, which was featured on the Canadian show “You Gotta Eat Here” is probably THE spot to go.  Other options include Dixieland Grill and Big Pete’s Steakhouse. 


For fans looking for other sports options, lacrosse is on the menu at the ILA all the time.  The Six Nations Chiefs of Major Series Lacrosse and the Junior B, Six Nations Rebels also share the ILA.  During the winter months, hockey can be found in nearby Brantford (Brantford Bulldogs), Caledonia and Hagersville.  The Friday nights at the Ohsweken Speedway are popular during the summer months also.  For fans looking for a more authentic Haudenosaunee experience, investigating Six Nations Tourism is the best idea.  Heading to Brantford for lodging is going to be the best idea for fans wishing to stay near the arena.


Fans 4

It is difficult to assess fans for Six Nations Arrows as OJLL attendance figures are not published.  It is clear, however, that the Six Nations Arrows are a draw and possibly the biggest draw out of all of the Six Nations teams that call the ILA home.  The game that was reviewed was well attended, with probably around 1,000 people in attendance. 


Also, consider that the game reviewed was a holiday and the opening game of the season.  Six Nations fans are pretty quiet and not really over the top, typical for Ontario.  What puts Six Nations fans a notch above are the kids.  There are plenty of kids in attendance at an Arrows game, most of them with sticks, helmets, and gloves.  Between periods and after warm-ups, kids flood the floor with their equipment and proceed to play, whether it is one one-on-one exercise, passing or just throwing the ball against the boards.

 

Access 4

Getting to Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is not difficult. The Reservation is located southeast of Brantford and southwest of Hamilton.   The major routes include Highway 24 to the west and Highway 6 to the east, however, it is mainly farmland in between these cities, and a two-lane highway is the best to expect for the majority of the travel.  ILA is in a rural area, basically at the junction of Cayuga Road and 2nd Line. 


There is definitely no public transit in the area.  There is plenty of free parking on site.  Getting around ILA is not difficult at all and the washroom facilities are adequate.  However, a really large crowd would make getting around more challenging and crowded.  It may be important to note that cellular service is spotty in this area, depending on the carrier, and there is no public wifi in the facility.  Also, a Six Nations Arrows game is a predominantly cash experience.



Return on Investment 5

There is tremendous value in OJLL lacrosse experiences and the Six Nations Arrows are no different.  Tickets are $10 and there are discounts for students and seniors.  The concession prices are much better than expected and parking is free.  The action on the floor is among the best box lacrosse that can be found outside of the NLL and it is in a place dedicated entirely to lacrosse.  In junior lacrosse, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Extras 4

An extra mark for the pipeline for pro lacrosse that the Six Nations Arrows are.  The alumni list is massive and The Lax Mag ranked the Six Nations Arrows as the fourth-best provider of NLL talent.


An extra mark for the community hub that the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is.  The facility is very busy with various teams, minor lacrosse, and other community events.


An extra mark for the authentic Indigenous experience provided by the Six Nations Arrows.


An extra mark for the lacrosse focus at the ILA.


Final Thoughts

With regards to Junior A lacrosse in Ontario, it does not get much better than the Six Nations Arrows experience.  The Iroquois Lacrosse Arena is one of the few facilities that was built specifically for lacrosse and has a total lacrosse focus.  Taking in an Arrows game offers great value for the dollar and is an experience not to be missed.


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



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