The Colisee - Maine Nordiques
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
190 Birch St,
Lewiston, ME 04240
Year Opened: 1958
The Return of the Nordiques
*Stadium Journey visited The Colisee near the end of the COVID-19 affected 2020-21 season. In this review, we will report on the altered operations but will focus on normal operations wherever possible.
The Colisee is a multi-purpose arena that opened in 1958. Built to serve the local Lewiston/Auburn community, the arena has been the site of countless events over the years, ranging from youth hockey tournaments to professional basketball games and even the World Heavyweight Title Fight in 1965.
The Maine Nordiques began play in the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league, in 2019. The team is named for the former professional hockey team that called Lewiston home in the 1970s. The original Nordiques were the farm team of the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association from 1973-1977.
Food & Beverage 3
*All concession stands appeared to be open during Stadium Journey’s 2021 visit. Credit cards were the only method of payment accepted. Gathering areas, such as the dining room for season ticket holders, were closed.
The Colisee offers a decent variety of concessions for a venue of its size. There is a large cafeteria-style dining room located in between the two entrances to the rink. There are also smaller concession stands on either side of the lobby.
The menu consists of standard arena fare, with burgers, hot dogs, sausage and pepper sandwiches, and pizza slices anchoring the menu. French fries and, since we’re close to the Canadian border, poutine can be ordered on the side. Chicken fingers and wings are sold at one of the cafeteria windows. Fans looking for a healthier option can choose a garden salad, with or without chicken.
Pepsi products are sold at The Colisee. Fans looking for an adult beverage will want to find the full-service bar atop section four. In addition to an impressive roster of spirits, several draught beers, including Budweiser, Bud Light, and Shipyard Export are available.
The Colisee offers a pretty standard game day presentation, which is a bit muted due to the age of the facility and the small crowds in attendance. All the familiar aspects of minor league hockey gamedays will be found in one form or another. There is a video board that hangs at center ice that is underutilized during game action. A few replays are shown, but little else. PA announcements can be difficult to hear over the old sound system.
The fans who come to the Colisee may not be large in number, but those who do attend Nordiques games are passionate about their team. Even during a sparsely attended game at the end of the 2021 season, the building was filled with noise from air horns and shouts from the crowd.
The Nordiques work closely with the local community, with 50/50 raffles held to benefit local organizations and many local sponsors advertising throughout The Colisee. As you walk around the narrow concourses of the facility, you can’t help but notice all the television screens lining the walls playing replays of various games. These must get put to good use when midget teams need a distraction on tournament days.
Lewiston is the second-largest city in Maine, located 45 minutes northwest of Portland. Its twin city, Auburn, is located across the Androscoggin River, and the two cities are usually linked together as a single entity. The combined population of Lewiston/Auburn is roughly 60,000.
The Colisee is located on the outskirts of the downtown area of Lewiston, a former industrial city on the Androscoggin River. Like many similar cities in the northeast, the downtown area suffered from neglect once the economy faded and businesses closed. The area around the arena is mostly residential, with businesses concentrated along the nearby riverfront.
Fans looking for dining options or lodging near the Colisee will be disappointed, as there is nothing to be found right next to the arena. Fans willing to take a short drive to the riverfront in Lewiston or across the river into Auburn will be rewarded by several dining options. In particular, the area around the Auburn Mall features several national chain restaurants and hotel chains for the out-of-town hockey fan. Most visitors to the area should opt to stay in Portland, where the options are much more plentiful.
For the 2019-20 season the Nordiques averaged just over 1,100 fans per game, which is just above the league average. The team ranked in the top ten of the North American Hockey League.
Stadium Journey attended a game at the end of the COVID ravaged 2020-21 season. On short notice, the Nordiques announced a free admission game on a Friday night. 250 fans showed up.
As mentioned earlier, the fans that show up at The Colisee are dedicated and enthusiastic. Even a small crowd at a Nordiques game can sound much larger than it really is.
The Colisee is located in the small central Maine city of Lewiston, located 45 minutes northwest of Portland. Boston is about a two-hour drive away. Driving is the primary method for arriving at a Nordiques game, as Interstate 95, more commonly known as the Maine Turnpike, runs through Lewiston just a mile or so from the facility. For those taking public transportation, the Oak Street Bus Station downtown offers routes to Bangor, Boston, and beyond.
There is ample parking at The Colisee, with three lots surrounding the facility. In addition, there is on-street parking available near the arena, and many locals choose this parking option.
The Box Office is located in an enclosed area at ground level at the front of the arena. From there, fans climb one of two narrow stairways to enter The Colisee’s lobby. This area contains concession stands, a small pro shop, and a skate shop. Fans can access the seating area by passing through two vomitories, one on either side of the rink. There is a walkway in the front of the seating bowl that runs around the entire rink. Seats in the first couple of rows can offer obstructed views due to fans passing directly in front of these seats. Seating consists of individual wooden chairs, except for the four corner sections, which consist of metal bleachers without seatbacks. There is a walkway around the top of the seating bowl that offers standing room, access to the bar and lounge with views of the action.
Bathrooms are located underneath the seating bowl, accessible by narrow hallways which run along both sides of the rink. There is a men’s and women’s room on each side of the arena. The bathrooms are cramped but adequate for the size of the crowds at the Colisee. Fans requiring handicapped access will find seating available right on the glass on the northwest side of the ice.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets for Nordiques games range in price from ten to twelve dollars. Seniors, students, and children receive a two-dollar discount. A complete seating chart can be found here. Parking in the lots surrounding The Colisee is free, and concessions are affordably priced. A night at a Maine Nordiques game is an affordable entertainment option for central Maine sports fans.
Extra points are awarded for the history of The Colisee. It may be hard to believe, but this quaint little facility located far from the bright lights of the city once hosted a Heavyweight Title Fight. On May 25, 1965, Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of their rematch. The iconic photo from this fight, with Ali towering over the fallen Liston, is one of the most famous sports photos of all time. And it happened here.
A second extra point is awarded for the banners honoring teams from the past and present that have played at The Colisee, including the division title won by the Lewiston Maineiacs from the QMJHL.
The Colisee is probably not one of those places that you will travel a long way to find on purpose, but if you happen to be in the area, do yourself a favor and check out a game in Lewiston. The old arena with its dedicated fans does hold an important place in sports history and is worth a look by any sports historian.