Progressive Auto Sales Arena - Sarnia Sting
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Progressive Auto Sales Arena 1455 London Road Sarnia, ON N7T 7N2
Year Opened: 1998
Sarnia is Buzzing with the Sting
The Progressive Auto Sales Arena is home to the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. It has a seating capacity of 5,500 and sits on the campus of Lambton College. The building debuted in 1998, four seasons after the Sting arrived, and features 43 luxury suites, two full-size NHL rinks, and a full-service restaurant.
In 2017, the arena received a new scoreboard, renovated the suites, added team colors and murals on the concourse walls, a new dressing room for players, and, in 2023, new dasher boards and a Kahlenberg goal horn.
The franchise began operations in 1969 as the Cornwall Royals in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The team captured the Memorial Cup in 1972, 1980, and 1981. The following year, the club transferred to the Ontario Hockey League and, in 1992, relocated to Newmarket, Ontario.
The Royals would spend two seasons before being sold and moved to Sarnia. The renamed Sting played at the Sarnia Arena, now known as the Pat Stapleton Arena, while plans were drawn for a modern facility that would open in October 1998.
Food & Beverage 4
The arena offers an array of food and drink options during the hockey game. There are several Stammer’s Stations located in the corner of the concourse offering a bulk of items from pizza slices, hot dogs, burgers, nachos, chicken tenders, boneless chicken bites, crispy chicken tenders, fries, and poutine. Many of these items can be upgraded for a few dollars more as a combo with fries and a drink (Pepsi products).
The alcohol selection includes domestic and premium tall cans of Coors/Miller Lite, Coors Original, Molson Canadian, Molson OV, and Sting Light Lager. Other options include hard root beer, seltzer, and wine.
The Rink Side Restaurant has its menu and drink options included with an additional price of a ticket. The team offers a carving station of sliced roast beef, grilled onions, and horseradish sauce on a soft bun.
The Progressive Auto Sales Arena is primarily made for hockey, and it is evident by the open concourse design, the sunken ice rink, standing-room-only railings, and details on the walls that showcase the Sting colors of black and yellow from former players, concession stands, and aesthetics.
It is cramped due to the single concourse that wraps around the entirety of the building but features a team store stocked with jerseys, shirts, stuffed animals, hats, and other paraphernalia. The Rink Side Restaurant is separate from the seating bowl, offering fans views of the arena with a full-service bar, and various banners are on display honoring past players and individuals who have made their mark on hockey that are from Sarnia.
Buzz and Honey are the official mascots of the team. They can be seen throughout the game, providing hugs and photo opportunities with fans. There is also a corner bar area that offers fans a little nook to enjoy a beer while talking with others during intermission. There is also the goal horn that is deafening after a Sting goal.
The arena is on the campus of Lambton College and within walking distance of the Lambton Mall and other retail stores and restaurants. Don’t be surprised to see fans in Sting game shopping at Walmart or Canadian Tire stores after the game.
Several national chains include burger joints Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet Chicken. However, there are a few casual restaurants: Lonzo’s Kitchen, Crabby Joe’s, Twisted Arm, Chuck’s Roadhouse, and Stoke’s Inland Grill.
Downtown Sarnia is about a 10-minute drive from the arena. The Pat Stapleton Arena still houses Junior B hockey, while Imperial City Brewhouse and Refined Fool Brewing Company are worth checking out.
The main concourse is cramped and gets dense during intermission. It is full of fans dressed in Sting gear, young fans blowing horns and ringing cowbells, and other fans enjoying a bite to eat or drink. It has been a down year for the club in the standings, but the crowd is still “buzzing” during home games.
The arena is easily accessible from 402 and 40 on the east side of town. The arena is nestled into the campus buildings, with plenty of parking in lots surrounding it. Once inside, the main concourse is small and gets packed during the first and second intermissions of the game, leading to long lines or weaving in and out of traffic to get back to your seats.
Return on Investment 4
There are three-tier ticket pricing: $16 for the Energy Zone behind the goalie, $24 for regular seats, and $28 for club seats. Parking is free for the game, and concession prices range from $4 for a medium pop, $5.50 for a hot dog, and $9.75 for a domestic can of beer. The meal deals include fries and pop and sell between $12 to $15.
The Sting earns a point for the aesthetics around the building that tie it to the team. Murals, team colors, banners, and bee-themed areas let fans know they are at the home of the Sarnia Sting.
The Sting retired Steven Stamkos’s number 91. Stamkos went on to star for the Tampa Bay Lightning after his junior playing days and led the team to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. The team also honors local player Shawn Burr and former NHL referee and current analyst Kerry Fraser.
The Platinum Club offers a diverse menu, great views of the two rinks, and a party area for the kids. There is a full-service bar.
Progressive Auto Sales Arena is a quaint, hockey-friendly building that offers what many want out of a night of junior hockey. It is not flashy, offers vast concourses, or some of the bells and whistles an hour away in London and Windsor, but it does not have to. It is a cozy place to watch hockey with a few thousand rabid fans.