Kitchener Memorial Auditorium - Battle at the Aud
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey.
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
400 East Ave
Kitchener, ON N2H 1Z6
Year Opened: 1951
Reignite the Rivalry
The legendary rivalry game has become all the rage in USports in the last decade. The return of the Carleton Ravens to the football scene has rejuvenated the storied Panda Game with the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Capital Hoops Classic has also pitted the two Ottawa basketball powerhouses against each other. Hockey has been no stranger to the rivalry game either. The Carr-Harris Cup features the longest running hockey rivalry in the sport between Queen’s and RMC and is held annually in Kingston. The Frosty Mug with the Guelph Gryphons hosting the Laurier Golden Hawks has taken the OUA by storm and the now legendary Crowchild Classic tops them all with Calgary hosting Mount Royal at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The two Waterloo, Ontario schools are also getting in on the rivalry game action in hockey.
Beginning in the 2016-2017 hockey season, the University of Waterloo Warriors hosted the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in what was to be the biggest game of the season. Attracting over 1,000 fans at the Dom Cardillo Arena at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, which is significantly higher than the capacity of the home Columbia IceField, the alternate venue was deemed a success. Laurier and Waterloo would trade hosting duties at the Aud and the Battle at the Aud was born. Now part of the larger, cross-sport, Battle of Waterloo, the annual tilt on the ice has become a showcase for the local rivalry and helped reignite what has been a quiet rivalry for years.
Food & Beverage 3
Concession options at the Aud eclipse those found in either the home of the Warriors or Golden Hawks. However, with the Battle at the Aud currently drawing far less than capacity, the full range of concession options that would be available for a Kitchener Rangers game is not present. Pizza, burgers, fries, popcorn and the like are all available at the same prices they can be found during a Rangers game. A variety of local and national beers are available for fans.
The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium is a legendary venue in the Ontario Hockey League. Built in 1951 as a mini Maple Leaf Gardens, the Aud is one of the oldest venues in the OHL, but remains at the top of the list. It remains a living monument to those local citizens who lost their lives in the two World Wars. The Aud has received a number of renovations over the years to expand the original arena to a larger complex.
The main arena is named after Dom Cardillo, the late, beloved, former mayor of Kitchener. Although the front of the building is on East Avenue, with the classic facade, most fans will enter from the parking lots off of Ottawa Street and Eugene George Way. Passing the ticket windows and walking through the concourses fans will be engulfed in the sporting history of Kitchener at all levels. Of note is the huge display of the Kraut Line, the three local products who comprised the most dominant line in the NHL for the Boston Bruins. Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart are legendary and they played together for the Bruins from 1937 to 1947.
The concourse of the Dom Cardillo Arena, past the ticket takers, is a historical journey of Kitchener Rangers hockey. Fans can spend plenty of time pursuing the displays and pictures throughout the concourses. Since Laurier and Waterloo only play at the Aud once a year, there are no references to the university teams. Inside the seating bowl, there are plenty of seats with an amazing view of the ice. The ice surface runs from west to east with the best view of the centre logo from the south. The rafters above the ice are littered with Rangers championship banners and legendary former Rangers with their numbers honoured. The Aud is as technically sound as any venue in the OHL with ribbon boards and an amazing multi-level video board. The technology in the Aud is far superior than that of the Columbia IceField at Waterloo and the Sun Life Financial Arena, home of Laurier. Seating is General Admission, so picking the seat with the perfect view is easy.
The game day production of the Battle of the Aud depends on who the home team is. When Laurier is home, as they have been in the 2019 and 2020 versions, the Laurier announcer and markings on the video board are prevalent. In the 2020 edition, the Laurier figure skating team performed at intermission.
The Aud is located east of Downtown Kitchener, which is a twin-city to Waterloo, where the two universities can be found. The Aud is very much a community arena and there is not much around the complex to entertain fans before or after the game. A strip mall at Ottawa Street North and Weber Street East has a Subway, Dairy Queen and Subway. StrykerZ Kitchen and Bar is the closest area of interest so the best idea is to head downtown. Aqua, TWH Social, B@TheMuseum, The Grand Trunk Saloon, McCabes and Bobby O’Brien’s are worth checking out.
As far as other sporting options, both Waterloo and Laurier run a full complement of athletic teams. The Golden Hawks hockey team plays at the Sun Life Financial Arena at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, the basketball team plays at the Athletic Complex and the football team plays at Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium. The Warriors hockey team plays at Columbia IceField Arena, the basketball team plays at the Physical Activities Complex and the football team plays at Warrior Field. The Aud is also the home of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL and the KW Titans of the NBL Canada. The Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League play at Jack Couch Park in the Aud complex. Other entertainment options in Kitchener-Waterloo would be a visit to the Oktoberfest headquarters and THEMUSEUM in Downtown Kitchener.
As far as options for fans who wish to stay near downtown include the Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo and The Walper Hotel.
Make no mistake, the Battle at the Aud is still in its infancy when compared to the other rivalry games. Attendance for the first four editions of the rivalry game have seen between 720 and 1,000 fans take in the game. These numbers need to be taken in context. Although the Battle at the Aud does not come close to reaching capacity at the Aud, it is still between five and ten times larger than the average hockey crowd at either the Columbia IceField Arena or Sun Life Financial Arena. The fans that are in attendance are fairly quiet and reserved, but continuing to increase the number of students who attend the Battle will increase the energy in the building.
Getting to the Aud is not too difficult. The Auditorium Complex is immediately adjacent to Highway 7 for easy access. Most people enter the Complex from Ottawa Street, right off the highway. Parking is free on the grounds in the Ottawa and Stirling lots. Public transit is available on Ottawa Street for fans interested in bussing it. Check the Grand River Transit website for schedules, fares and maps.
The box office is found immediately after entering the concourse from the Ottawa Street lot and lines are not a problem. For a Ranger game, concourses and washrooms can be a bit of a challenge, but for a far lower attendance for the Battle at the Aud, traversing the arena is no issue at all.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for the Battle at the Aud are a steal. Seniors and alumni can get in for $7 and regular adults get in for $10. Student prices are $2 and the universities sell student packages that include transportation. Parking at the Aud is free and the concession prices are not over the top either. The caliber of hockey in the OUA is high and Laurier and Waterloo are usually very competitive with each other. If this game could grow in stature and begin to draw more fans, the return on investment would grow.
An extra mark for the efforts Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo have put forth to rekindle the rivalry between the two schools that reside on the same street in Waterloo.
An extra mark for yet another rivalry game in USports which draws far more fans than a regular game.
An extra mark for the Battle of Waterloo series, which is continuing to gain momentum.
With USports rivalry games already in the works, it seems that the blueprint is in place for the Battle at the Aud to continue to grow and gain prevalence in the league. Continued promotion and pushing of this, the penultimate game in the rivalry, could see the Battle continue to grow and take its place among the other hugely popular rivalry games in USports. The Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors have done their parts to reignite the rivalry. Now it is time for the students and community and students to jump on board and make this an event that is circled on many more Kitchener-Waterloo calendars.