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Stadium Journey's Top 20 Ontario Hockey League Rankings 2024

One third of the top junior hockey league in Canada, the Ontario Hockey League features seventeen teams from Ontario, one from Pennsylvania and two from Michigan.  The OHL has seen such hockey legends as Bobby Orr, Darry Sittler, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, and Wayne Gretzky have all called the OHL home at one point.  A healthy mix of new and old facilities, the OHL offers fans an intimate experience with the glitz of future professional hockey players who help fill the NHL Draft.

Stadium Journey has taken to rank the experiences of all 20 experiences in the Ontario Hockey League.  The scores are all very close, however, in every case, a high marks for Return on Investment are present in each experience.  This makes the OHL a prime spot to invest some entertainment dollars and get the most out of that hard earned money.

The arenas are ranked according to Stadium Journey's patented FANFARE rating scale, which takes into account a venue's food and beverage, game day atmosphere, surrounding neighborhood, fan support, access, value and more. When two or more venues are tied, a Stadium Journey Council of Elders familiar with the league are consulted to break those ties.

Here are the Top 20 OHL Hockey Experiences of 2024.

Dave Cottenie - The Aud remains one of the most unique venues in a league where new venues are becoming increasingly homogeneous.  The arena with the main ice is named after former beloved mayor of Kitchener, Dom Cardillo, making the home of the Rangers the Dom Cardillo Arena at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.  The Rangers provide one of the best experiences in the entire Canadian Hockey League and are a must see for all junior hockey fans.

2. Meridian Centre - Niagara IceDogs 4.14

Robbie Raskin - Meridian Centre still feels shiny and new after a decade, yet it also avoids feeling like a cookie-cutter modern venue. Coupled with a charming surrounding neighbourhood and world-class tourism draws beyond it, hockey fans should definitely consider OHL hockey in St. Catharines as part of a trip to Niagara.

Dave Cottenie - One of the cornerstone franchises of the Ontario Hockey League, the 67’s derive their name from not only their inception, but to the founding of Canada as an independent country in 1867.  The 67’s are one of the most successful franchises in the league, both on and off the ice, are owned by the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group, who also claim the CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks as part of their portfolio.

4. Sleeman Centre - Guelph Storm 4.14

Dave Cottenie - Although not normally considered a cornerstone franchise of the OHL, the Storm have been among the most consistent both on the ice and at the turnstile.  The Storm have participated in the Memorial Cup tournament on six occasions and won the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions four times.

5. GFL Memorial Gardens - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4.00

Dave Cottenie - If there is one thing above all that the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are known for, it is their connection to the greatest hockey player ever, Wayne Gretzky. In 1977, the Greyhounds selected the slender, sixteen year old with the third pick in the midget draft. Gretzky would not disappoint by scoring a Greyhound record 182 points in his only season in the Soo.

6. Budweiser Gardens - London Knights 4.00

Dave Cottenie - The John Labatt Centre opened in 2002 and helped usher in a new era in the OHL of new or renovated facilities and quickly became the gold standard in arenas in the league. Going from a nightmare to a dream come true has been an amazing ride for the fans in London and there are no signs of slowing down.

Dave Cottenie - Although the Fronts have not enjoyed a ton of success on the ice, with only two East Division Championships to show for their efforts, the Frontenacs experience has improved significantly and remains a great option for sports fans

8. Tribute Communities Centre - Oshawa Generals 3.86

Dave Cottenie - With a lineage that goes back to Oshawa’s favourite adopted son, Bobby Orr, the Generals are one of the most successful teams to ever take the ice in Ontario.  The Generals hold the record for most J. Ross Robertson Cups as OHL Champions, with 13.  The Generals also boast an impressive five Memorial Cups, which is also more than any other current Canadian Hockey League franchise.

9. Sudbury Community Arena - Sudbury Wolves 3.71

Dave Cottenie - The Sudbury Community Arena is in the twilight of its Ontario Hockey League life, and fans need to take advantage of the opportunity to see this facility host the Sudbury Wolves while they still can.  The expected opening of the Kingsway Entertainment District, which will provide a new event centre home for the Wolves, is not far off, in 2025.

Patricia Beninato - If you’re a hockey fan, an Erie Otters game is fun and relatively inexpensive, even if you throw in a hot dog, a beer, and a t-shirt. Maybe it’s not a destination arena, but if you’re in the area and want to see future NHL stars up close and hang out with some loyal hockey fans, you can do worse than Erie Insurance Arena.

11. Peterborough Memorial Centre - Peterborough Petes 3.71

Robbie Raskin - The Petes are the oldest continuously-operating team in the OHL and have won the league nine times and the national Memorial Cup championship once. Frustrating to their fans is that the only team with greater success are their hated rivals, the Oshawa Generals.

Marc Viquez - 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.

13. North Bay Memorial Gardens - North Bay Battalion 3.57

Dave Cottenie - In 2013 the Ontario Hockey League made a triumphant return to North Bay, Ontario.  After the North Bay Centennials had their run from 1982 to 2002, they left for Saginaw, Michigan under a cloud of mistrust and bad feelings. The hockey light would shine again in the Gateway to the North after the local fans provided next level support for the Nipissing Lakers, a newly formed university team.

Dave Cottenie - Sadlon Arena offers a solid junior hockey experience that is not uncommon in many other markets. From the exterior, Sadlon Arena has a bit of a barn-like appearance with a rounded, elongated roof, which can be seen from Highway 400.  Oriented from west to east, the most eye-catching feature of the arena is the Horsepower Sports Bar, which offers a unique brick facade to the front of the building with awnings.

Marc Viquez - The original Spitfires were members of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1945 to 1953 and relocated to Hamilton. The current version began operations in 1971 in the Major Junior Hockey League and was promoted to the Ontario Hockey League in 1975. The Spitfires are named after the Royal Canadian Air Force No. 417 Squadron, nicknamed “City of Windsor” squadron, who flew the Spitfire fighter planes during World War II. To many fans, they are nicknamed the Spits.  

Dave Cottenie - New to the 2023-2024 Ontario Hockey League landscape is the Brantford Bulldogs. When the Hamilton Bulldogs found they would be homeless for two years as the FirstOntario Centre undergoes renovations, owner Michael Andlauer found a landing spot in Brantford, Ontario, famously the childhood home of Wayne Gretzky, and signed a lease with the city for at least three years.

Dave Cottenie - On the banks of Georgian Bay sits the smallest market in the Ontario Hockey League. In 1989, the Guelph Platers, who had been in Guelph since 1968, made the move north to the Grey-Bruce area of Ontario.

Dave Cottenie - With a small city population of under 50,000, currently a poor team on the ice and economic challenges in Central Michigan, the Spirit are having a bit of a rough go.  That being said, there is still hope that Michigan’s hockey spirit can continue to thrive in the OHL.

Dave Cottenie - When Peter Karmanos sold the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League to the IMS Hockey Corporation and Rolf Nilsen there were a number of eyebrows raised. There are more than enough doubters when it comes to the Firebirds viability in Flint, but IMS is chugging along and they want everyone to get behind and Believe in Flint.

Dave Cottenie - A decade as the Steelheads has passed and hockey in Mississauga once again is at a tipping point.  Owner Elliot Kerr has made public his frustrations with the lack of fan support and mused that maybe the Steelheads should be elsewhere.  The Steelheads are expected to move to Brampton, Ontario for the 2024-2025 season

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