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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Kinsman Arena @ Kitchener Memorial Auditorium - Kitchener-Waterloo Lacrosse Club

Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Kinsman Arena @ Kitchener Memorial Auditorium

400 East Ave

Kitchener, ON N2H 1Zy

Year Opened: 1951

Capacity: 1,607

The Home of Brave Lacrosse

In 1967, junior lacrosse was founded in Kitchener, Ontario. A hotbed for junior hockey, the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves took their place among the other lacrosse teams in Junior B. The Braves would win the Founders Cup as Junior B Champions in 1987 and 1988 and eventually move up a tier to Junior A in 1991. The rebrand of the league to become the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League in 2021 would pave the way for the modern Kitchener-Waterloo Lacrosse Club. The KW rebrand would take place in 2020 as teams across the sport would trend away from Indigenous names. The OJLL operates much like the Ontario Hockey League does, as a feeder system to professional box lacrosse leagues such as the National Lacrosse League. Box Lacrosse legends such as Colin Doyle, Dhane Smith, Aaron Wilson, Ryan Benesch and Steve “Chugger” Dietrich all played under the Braves moniker and cut their teeth in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Home for the KW Lacrosse Club is the Kinsmen Arena. Part of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, the Kinsmen Arena offers a more intimate atmosphere with a modest capacity of just over 1,600 with some standing room availability. Although The Aud itself opened in 1950, the Kinsmen Arena is much newer and opened some time in the late eighties. Paired with the Kiwanis Arena and known locally as the “Twin Pads,” Kinsmen Arena draws its name from the local charity and part of the Kin Canada organization. Although the KW Lacrosse Club has bounced around over the years in different locations, Kinsmen offers a solid venue, the perfect size, for the local version of the fastest game on two feet.

Food & Beverage 2

Concessions at Kinsmen Arena are very simple. There is a cart present at games where fans can purchase light refreshments including soda, Gatorade, water and a few different varieties of canned beer. Chocolate bars are also available. Normal concessions that would service the Aud for bigger events are not usually running during the summer months when lacrosse is happening. However, having a licenced venue that serves alcoholic beverages was a surprise

Atmosphere 2

Junior A lacrosse is a bit of a hidden gem. The KWLC play at the venerable Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, which is also the home to the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Rather than playing in the iconic Dom Cardillo Arena, lacrosse is found at the Kinsmen Arena, a much newer and smaller arena in The Aud complex. The arena is not over the top and is fairly simple. Fans will enter the indoor portion of the complex from the Eugene George Way, side of the arena as opposed to the main arena off of East Avenue. The exterior of the building is attractive enough with light coloured brick and an LED ribbon to advertise events. The breezeway from this entrance leads past the main box office, which will be closed, past the memorial dedication plaque and Kraut Line display to the twin pads. Tickets for purchase are just inside the Kinsmen Arena doors at a temporary table.

Home to hockey at various levels in the winter months, the ice comes out during lacrosse season and the KW Lacrosse Club finds a solid home for the summer. Kinsmen is located at the northeast portion for the complex buildings. It features a simple, low ceiling and light coloured walls, essentially lacking much in the way of colour. The floor surface runs from west to east, with all of the seating on the south side. Four sections of benches which surround a centre section of traditional arena seats make up the seating area and there is plenty of standing room in the east and west corners and behind the seating area. A simple hockey scoreboard is found hanging in the northeast corner of the arena. It would be beneficial if the Kinsmen Arena felt more like the home to the KWLC. The interior of the arena is as bland as the current branding for the team. The opportunity to showcase some of the history of the team would be great and give fans a better sense of the longevity of the team.

The game differs a bit from what one would expect in the National Lacrosse League. The concrete floor, as opposed to green carpet, offers a different experience to the game. The squeaking sneakers, similar to that of a basketball game, creates a different feel and when players hit the ground, they tend to slide, unlike the game on the carpet. The gameplay also differs from the pros as music does not play throughout the play. This offers fans to hear the sounds of the game like the ball cracking off the goaltender’s pads or off of the boards, or the metal smashing of two sticks in combat. The smaller venue gives fans a closer perspective to the game and a better sense of just how fast and tough box lacrosse can really be. The gameday production is pretty simple with some basic music being played before the game and during intermissions as well as for goals. The PA announcer does a decent job of conveying information to the fans, however the PA system has much to be desired and most announcements are lost to poor speakers and poor acoustics.

Neighbourhood 3

The Aud is located just east of Downtown Kitchener. For the most part, the Aud is a community arena. There are almost no pre and post game meal options within walking distance. Fans could hike up Ottawa Street to the Tim Horton's or Dairy Queen. Strykerz Kitchen and Bar in the same plaza may be an option, but it is pretty small. The best bet would be to head downtown or take the highway out to Sportsworld. Downtown, fans might want to try The Grand Trunk Saloon, TWH Social, Bobby O'Brien’s or McCabe’s. Out by Sportsworld you will definitely want to hit Moose Winooski's. For a truly genuine Kitchener experience, fans should look into eating a pre-game meal at the Concordia Club or The Metro. Kitchener celebrates the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany in Oktoberfest. The Friday buffet at the Concordia Club is a great way to experience Kitchener’s German heritage before a lacrosse game!

Other sporting options locally would have to begin with the headline Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, who play in the Dom Cardillo Arena on the other side of the hall. When the nicer weather hits, then the Kitchener Panthers can be found on the other side of the parking lot at Jack Couch Stadium. Other options include hopping over to Kitchener’s twin city, Waterloo to catch some local university action. The Waterloo Warriors call the PAC home to basketball, Warrior Field home to football and Columbia IceField home to hockey. The Laurier Golden Hawks play their football games at Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium, their hockey games at Sun Life Financial Arena at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, and their basketball games at WLU Athletic Complex.

Downtown, fans may also want to check out The Museum.

Fans who are staying in town overnight should head downtown. The Walper Hotel and Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo are good selections.

Fans 3

Junior A lacrosse has a small, but hardcore following. Assessing fan support can be difficult as attendance figures for games are not published as part of the game sheets. That being said, there were a few hundred people in attendance at the game which was reviewed supporting both home and away squads. A large percentage of those are most likely friends and family, however, the fans in attendance were loud and definitely knew the game and the team.

Access 5

The Aud is located in the Auditorium District, which is east of Downtown Kitchener. Getting to The Aud is not difficult. It is immediately west of Highway 7, which is the main artery through Kitchener. There is plenty of parking on both the north and south sides of the complex, which should be entered from Ottawa Street or Stirling Avenue. For fans wishing to take public transit to the lacrosse game, there are buses that travel both Ottawa and Weber Streets. The light rail Ion train is a fair hike from the nearest station, so that may not be the best option. Fans should check out the Grand River Transit website for maps, fares and schedules. Getting around the Kinsmen Arena is no issue at all as the building is not packed and there are not a ton of concession options. Fans with mobility issues are better served in the Kinsmen Arena than the Dom Cardillo Arena as there is not the main staircase to ascend in the Kinsmen.

Return on Investment 4

With the rising cost of sports at all levels, finding affordable entertainment for the sporting dollar can be a real challenge. K-W Lacrosse is very affordable at just $10 a ticket. Students and seniors can get in for $5. There are not many places that offer this kind of value. Concessions, although limited, are reasonably priced and parking is free at The Aud. The product on the floor is definitely fast-paced and hard-hitting and fans of lacrosse will enjoy the Junior A level of lacrosse.

Extras 2

An extra mark for the long history of the Kitchener-Waterloo Lacrosse Club, as one of the oldest clubs in the OJLL.

An extra mark for the sensational alumni that have found their way through KW and moved on to stardom in the National Lacrosse League.

Final Thoughts

Lacrosse will not be taking over the top spot as the favourite sport in North America anytime soon. It remains very much a niche sport. However, the fastest game on two feet is a great way to see some top notch athletes in a way that fans may not be accustomed to. The Kitchener-Waterloo Lacrosse Club provides a window into the future of the sport, profiling the athletes who will one day be professionals in the NLL and it's very affordable!

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

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