Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Toldo Lancer Centre
2555 College Ave.
Windsor, ON N9B 3P4
Year Opened: 2022
The Centre of Lancer Basketball
For many years, the Windsor Lancers played basketball in the most unique and obscure of venues. The Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse at the St. Denis Centre is an indoor track and field facility. For basketball games, the University of Windsor set up a basketball court in the centre of the 200-meter track and pulled out large bleachers for spectators. It was a Canadian venue not dissimilar to how the Syracuse Orange have played for decades in what is still commonly referred to as the Carrier Dome, just on a shrunken level.
The success of the Lancer basketball program predicated a new venue and the Toldo Lancer Centre was born. Named after Anthony Toldo, who died in 2009, and whose foundation made a significant donation, the Toldo Lancer Centre is a state-of-the-art facility, perfect for OUA basketball.
The Lancers began their basketball lives sometime in the early 1900s when they competed against colleges across the river, in Detroit, in friendlies as Assumption College. Founded in 1857, Assumption was granted university status in 1953 and federated with the newly established University of Windsor in 1963. In 1952, they joined the OQAA, a conference in what is now known as USports.
The Lancers have enjoyed success in basketball earning the W.P. McGee Trophy as National Champions in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1969. Windsor would also win the Wilson Cup as conference champions on ten occasions, the latest being in 2007. Currently, the University of Windsor has an enrollment of over 16,000 students
Food & Beverage 2
The Toldo Lancer Centre offers a limited selection of concessions for basketball games. Soda, bottled water, chips, chocolate bars, hot dogs, candy, and popcorn encompass the entirety of the concession menu. There is just enough to keep fans happy with a snack, but for fans looking for something more satisfying, looking elsewhere before or after the game would be the best idea.
The Toldo Lancer Centre was built attached to the pre-existing St. Denis Centre which includes the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse where the Lancers previously played. As with other OUA basketball facilities, the Toldo Lancer Centre is much more than the home of the basketball teams but is also a hub for student athletics and recreation. Entering the building from the south gives fans a look at the main entrance.
The exterior is fairly simple and nondescript but by no means ugly. Fans are greeted by the main ticket office upon entry and then immediately ascend to the upper level for entry to the seating area. The breezeway before entry to the gym features a crisp, clean look and a large Lancer Pride mural. The washroom facilities are found in this area. There is plenty of space for meeting with others without having to brave the elements in the winter. The University of Windsor Athletic Hall of Fame is also found in this area with a very nice display for the most recent honourees.
Passing from the breezeway into the seating area, fans can have their tickets checked to gain access. The upper level of the seating area has a three-lane running track perfect for fans who wish to keep moving during the game and not miss any of the action. Windsor has taken design cues from Toronto’s Goldring Centre. The main gym is sleek and dark with a focus on the court and LED lights throughout.
The court runs from south to north with four sets of bleachers on each side. The east side provides the best view of the center logo. Behind the east bleachers are the Alumni Lounge and the press box above that. The east and west bleachers are raised above floor level and feature padded, fold-down seats. Although less comfortable, the molded plastic bench seating on the north and south end bleachers gets fans closer to the action.
Proudly hanging in the north end are the five women’s and five men’s basketball National Championship banners. The dominance the men enjoyed in the sixties is on display with five championships. The women have proved to be equally dominant with their own five straight National Championships. The Toldo Lancer Centre takes technology to the next level.
The south end has two large videoboards which display the OUA.tv video feed while the north side videoboard cycles advertisements. Each of the four corners also has a video board on the railing of the track which serves as the scoreboard and score clock. It would be beneficial if two of these boards could provide lineups and statistics.
The gameday production is about what one would expect for an OUA basketball game. There are student-run promotions in between the quarters. The music selection is what one would expect from a student-run production. The mascot, Winston, can be found moving around the gym and partaking in the promotions.
Toldo Lancer Centre is segregated among the University’s athletic facilities and not very close to pubs or restaurants. Probably the only venue within walking distance is the McDonald’s on Huron Church Road. However, heading toward the riverfront will allow fans to find some decent spots on both Wyandotte St. and University Ave. The Barrel House, Dominion House, and Rock Bottom Bar & Grill are all good options.
There are a few other spots where fans can find other sports options. Right behind the St. Denis Centre is Alumni Field at the University of Windsor Stadium, which is the home for Lancer football. A short drive to the Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex will find the home for Windsor Lancer hockey. The WFCU Centre is the home for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires and is also a short drive from campus. If none of these options are satisfying, fans may consider hopping the border where all of the sports options of Detroit, Michigan are close. Other entertainment options in Windsor include the Canadian Aviation Museum and Caesars Windsor.
For fans who need a place to stay in Windsor, the Holiday Inn and Best Western are pretty close to campus and are good options.
Assessing the fan support for USports basketball is difficult as the majority of teams do not publish attendance figures. That being said, the fan support that is found at a Windsor Lancers basketball game is above average in the USA. Known for their support of the Lancers, the fans in the Lancer Centre are loud and proud. The Lancers faithful has also, historically, been very supportive of the women’s team. At the game that was reviewed, there was a strong contingent of students that sat on the ends, dressed up, and made plenty of noise with pots, pans, and buckets. This impromptu student section is truly unique in the OUA and made the fan atmosphere more like an NCAA basketball game than a Canadian college game.
Getting to the Toldo Lancer Centre is not overly difficult. The stadium is a stone's throw from Highway 3, or Huron Church Road, the main street that leads to the Ambassador Bridge, in the Bridgeview neighbourhood of Windsor. There is some parking available on campus on the opposite side of College Ave and behind the Toldo Lancer Centre.
Parking will cost fans a little bit but should be less than $10 for the game. Public transit is a little bit of a walk from the stadium. Some buses run on California, Wyandotte, Felix, Tecumseh, and Campbell. Fans interested in public transit should check out the Transit Windsor website for maps, fares, and schedules. Tickets can be purchased at the main ticket window immediately inside the south entrance. . There is plenty of space to walk around with the track and breezeway and the washroom facilities are more than adequate for the crowd on hand.
Return on Investment 5
Canadian University Basketball has tremendous value for little cost. Windsor Lancers tickets go for $10 for an adult with discounts for students, seniors, kids, and alumni. Each ticket is a doubleheader with the women's basketball team usually playing in the early game followed by the men. There are not too many tickets anywhere that are as cheap and provide so much value. Windsor has consistently put a contender on the court on both the men's and women's sides. Combine that with a clean, comfortable, state-of-the-art facility and it is hard to go wrong with Lancer basketball.
An extra mark for the state-of-the-art facility and the use of technology at Toldo Lancer Centre. An extra mark for the very strong support for the Lancer Women’s basketball team also. One of the best fanbases for women’s basketball in the province. An extra mark for the consistently competitive Lancer program.
Basketball fans in Ontario should take some time and head to Windsor to see one of the top OUA basketball teams. The Windsor Lancers are playing in one of the best facilities in Ontario and provide a great experience for fans. The Toldo Lancer Centre is worth checking out. Fans won’t regret it.