Paramount Fine Foods Centre - Mississauga Steelheads
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Paramount Fine Foods Centre
5500 Rose Cherry Place
Mississauga, ON L4Z 4B6
Year Opened: 1998
It was once the house that Don Cherry built. The bombastic, former centerpiece of the “Coach’s Corner” intermission segment of Hockey Night in Canada was bringing Junior Hockey to Mississauga and spearheading the opening of the Hershey Centre.
The complex was built on a street named after Cherry’s late wife. The Mississauga IceDogs entered the OHL in 1998 in one of the worst expansion plans ever with teams in Mississauga, Brampton, and Toronto all being added in two years. Cherry would find that he possibly didn’t know as much about running a hockey team as he thought he did and the IceDogs proved to be one of the worst franchises in the league.
In 2007, Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, would purchase the IceDogs to gain control of the arena lease for the then Hershey Centre. The IceDogs were sold off and the Majors became the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. After several tough years at the gate and hosting a Memorial Cup, Melnyk would sell the Majors to Elliot Kerr and the team would be rebranded the Mississauga Steelheads in 2012.
A decade as the Steelheads has passed and hockey in Mississauga once again is at a tipping point. Kerr has made public his frustrations with the lack of fan support and mused that maybe the Steelheads should be elsewhere.
Home for the Steelheads is the now-renamed Paramount Fine Foods Centre. The arena is similar to other modern OHL facilities and offers plenty to be positive about. However, Junior Hockey in Mississauga is in trouble and the question as to the location of the Trout in five years is a mystery yet to be answered.
Food & Beverage 3
There is some surprising variety when it comes to concessions at Paramount Fine Foods Centre. The expected arena fare can be found, including popcorn, nachos, pretzels, fries, and hot dogs. Poutine, mini-donuts, and chicken fingers. Some surprising, healthier options are available including whole fruit and hummus, and veggies.
Soft drinks are Coca-Cola products. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and French Vanilla are available, and necessary due to the cold temperatures in the arena. The beer selection is decent for an OHL venue. Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona, Stella Artois, Mill Street Organic, and Alexander Keith’s are available as well as red and white wine.
The Paramount Fine Foods Centre is the centrepiece of a larger athletic complex. The exterior is attractive with a clean look with light brick and siding. The main entrance is on the east side at Rose Cherry Place and brings fans into a small foyer with the main ticket office. After entering the main concourse fans will find the team shoppe, The Bait Shop, to the immediate left. The concourses feature some murals featuring the Steelheads. The Captain’s Wall is around the corner from the Bait Shop one way and team photos can be found in the opposite direction.
Inside the seating bowl, fans will find a modern seating facility with plenty of burgundy arena seats; some with padding. The ice surface runs from east to west, with the north side being the best spot to get the Centre ice logo picture. Above the seating bowl on the south side, above the luxury boxes, hangs the iconic painting of Queen Elizabeth II, once a staple found in all Canadian hockey arenas.
Behind the seats on the north side is the Budweiser Lounge, which, when operating, is a place fans can stand in a bar-like atmosphere and get a drink and some food. When the lounge is not operating, it is still open for fans to be able to use the space.
The four-sided video board is clear and has traditional scoreboards underneath. Hanging in the west end are the 2017 division and conference championship banners, the only ones the Steelheads have earned to date. The Paramount Fine Foods Centre is one of the coldest arenas in the OHL. Fans should be prepared. Gloves are a good idea here.
The gameday production is about what one would expect from the OHL. Modern music plays during the down times and minor hockey players play the Timbits mini-game during intermission. The Steelheads mascot, Sauga, can be found around the arena leading cheers or on the ice during the mini-game.
The Paramount Fine Foods Centre is located in an industrial neighbourhood in Mississauga. As a result, there is not much in the way of pre and post-game spots for fans to head to. The Britannia neighbourhood in Mississauga, which is surrounded by Highways 401, 403, and Hurontario, does have a couple of spots including Pane e Vino, Wing Factory, Nirvana, and Mandarin.
For a wider variety, fans will need to look elsewhere. Either way, fans are going to need to get in the car and make the drive. Heading over to Square One, which is one of the larger shopping malls in the area, will offer fans more options. Mississauga suffers and benefits from being in the shadow of Toronto. Many fans will head “into the city” for the entertainment options, of which there are nearly countless.
In Mississauga itself, however, options are pretty limited. The Paramount Fine Foods Centre is shared with Raptors 905 of the G-League. Other sporting options would be in Toronto as well. Fans who wish to stay near the arena may want to try the Holiday Inn Mississauga Toronto West or Quality Inn Airport West
The attendance for Steelhead games is where the experience falls off. In the 2022-2023 season, the Steelheads are attracting under 1,500 fans per game, dead last in the Ontario Hockey League by nearly 1,000 fans per game. Mississauga tends to be near the bottom in attendance annually and need something to change to ensure its position in Mississauga going forward. The team has been fairly strong on the ice but the lack of fan support leaves the experience flat. It feels that there are more visiting fans than home fans and the low attendance is not placated by a small building.
Getting to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre is not difficult. The arena is surrounded by Hurontario Road, a major Mississauga street, and Highways 401 and 403. There is plenty of free parking on either the north or south sides of the arena. Some parking is reserved for suite patrons and season ticket holders. For fans wanting to take public transit to the game, there is a limited-service MiWay bus route that traverses Rose Cherry Place.
Fans should check out the Mississauga Transit website for maps, fares, and schedules. Getting around the Paramount is not difficult due to the low attendance numbers. However, should there be a big crowd, the narrow concourses would be a bit of a problem. The washroom facilities are adequate for the facility and the crowd in attendance.
Return on Investment 3
OHL hockey provides tremendous value for the sporting dollar. The on-ice product is top-notch and exciting. The ticket prices for the Steelheads are not out of line with the rest of the league. Adult tickets go for around $25 and premium tickets for $35. There are discounts available for kids. Family packs are also available. The concession prices are not too bad and parking is free at the Paramount.
However, the lack of fan support bleeds into the overall experience. Even though the Steelheads do their best to put a good package together, it falls a bit flat when a large percentage of fans, in a building more than half empty, are cheering for the visiting team. Stronger fan support will help create a better atmosphere and a better return on investment.
An extra mark for the strong connection the Mississauga Steelheads has with minor hockey in the area. An extra mark for the unique name and strong branding the Mississauga Steelheads bring to the table.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Mississauga Steelheads over the next five years. An airtight lease agreement with the City of Mississauga has kept OHL hockey in town, however, it is clear that the owner is unwilling to continue to take significant losses on the team and may be ready to find some greener pastures. If the citizens of Mississauga could rally around the Steelheads to ensure Junior Hockey remains the OHL would be a better place.