Tribute Communities Centre - Oshawa Generals
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Tribute Communities Centre 99 Athol St E Oshawa, ON L1H 1J8
Year Opened: 2006
Generally Speaking …
One of the cornerstone franchises of the Ontario Hockey League is the Oshawa Generals. For many years, Oshawa, Ontario was the Canadian incarnation of the Motor City, with General Motors having a massive presence in the city, including the Canadian headquarters. The Generals moniker, therefore, has no link to the military, but to the car manufacturer. The current home of the Generals was also originally named the General Motors Centre. 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. The Generals were founded in 1937 and were forced to take a hiatus in the fifties when their home arena burned down. The Gens resurfaced in 1962 and are currently owned by Rocco Tullio.
In 2006, the Oshawa Generals moved to the brand new, City of Oshawa-owned General Motors Centre. Moving out of the old Oshawa Civic Auditorium was a boost for the team and has allowed Oshawa to be the host city for Memorial Cup. In 2016, the naming rights were purchased by Tribute Communities, a property development company, and the arena was renamed the Tribute Communities Centre.
Food & Beverage 3
With pandemic restrictions being in transition at the time of this review, it appears that concessions are back open at Tribute Communities Centre, in full force. Concession options are what one would expect. All of the expected options are present with burgers, sausage, hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, and Pizza Pizza slices available at multiple purchase points. Coca-Cola provides soft drink options and there are also a few beer options available including Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra. There are also some cider and cooler options available. The concession lineup is decent, but there is nothing that will blow fans away.
The Tribute Communities Centre is designed like many other arenas in the Ontario Hockey League. The exterior is attractive with the main entrance along Athlol Street. The main square features a unique mirrored sculpture that defies description, yet provides a terrific meeting place and item for exploration. Fans can take Red Tilson Lane, named after the Gens war veteran, past the sculpture from Athol Street to Bruce Street on the other side of the building.
Upon entering the main doors, fans are immediately met with a large staircase leading to the main concourse. Ground-level also sends fans to a modest team store. The main concourse gives fans the impression that the Tribute Communities Centre is like so many other OHL facilities. The concourse is behind the top row of seats in the seating bowl and is open so fans can see the action on the ice while traversing the concourse. The entry points to the seating bowl have signage sharing the Generals Ring of Excellence. Members include John Humphreys, John Stevens, Terry O’Reilly, Alex Delvecchio, Rick Middleton, Joe Cirella, Roy Sawyer, John MacLean, Jason Arnott, Billy Taylor, Darryl Lafrance, Ian Young, Scott McCrory, Paul Theriault, Dean Morton, Iain Fraser, Nathan Horton, Wayne Cashman, Bryan Allen, Bob Attersley, Floyd Curry, Matt Leyden, Jeff Daniels, and Dave Andreychuck.
The six of the most prominent Generals do not have Ring of Excellence signage as they have their numbers retired, hanging from banners on the east side of the arena. John Tavares, Eric Lindros, Marc Savard, Tony Tanti, Red Tilson (who gave his life in World War II), and Bobby Orr each hold the most honoured place among Generals Alumni. On the south side of the building, fans have the opportunity to pursue the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame and Museum which is a treasure trove of memorabilia and artifacts not only about the Generals but for the entire region across sports. Enshrined members of the Hall of Fame can be found in frames around the arena
The seating bowl is pretty much a single-tier bowl with standing room behind the seating bowl. The concourses are open to the seating bowl and the opportunity to see the game while at the concession stand is there. Above the seating bowl on the south side are several luxury boxes and the Prospects Grill offers some alternative seating, with a full-service restaurant, on the north side. The video board at centre ice is not overpowering, but clear and used effectively. The pride of the Generals can be found on both the east and west sides of the scoreboard. On the west side, the banners for the thirteen J.Ross Robertson Cups hang. The Gens took home the Ontario or OHL championship in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1966, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1997 and 2015. On the east side banners for the Memorial Cup victories of 1939, 1940, 1944, 1990, and 2015 hang. It is hard to find a junior hockey team more decorated than the Generals.
The game day experience is about what can be expected for an OHL team. The music is what you would expect with a variety of contemporary and classic rock. The Gens mascot, Deke, can be found around the arena interacting with the fans and the opportunity to win some money is available with the 50/50 draw.
The Tribute Communities Centre is located in the Central Oshawa neighbourhood of the city. Oshawa has a population of 166,000, so it is not a huge city. However, Central Oshawa does have a few spots of interest for fans who are looking for pre or post-game food and drink. Right inside the Tribute Communities Centre, fans may wish to try out the Prospects Bar & Grill. Other options within walking distance include Smoke’s Poutinerie, Wing Addicts, Kings Corner, Brew Wizards Board Game Cafe, Riley’s Pub, and Top Corner Grill & BBQ. There are also a few fast food and chain restaurants around. Wendel Clark’s is heavily advertised and is a few blocks from the arena and may be the spot to try, especially for Toronto Maple Leaf fans.
Fans looking for some other sporting options will want to head over to Ontario Tech University, where the Ridgebacks play hockey at Campus Ice Centre and basketball at Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre. If that is not quite enough, heading to Toronto for all that there is to offer there is an option. A few steps from the TCC is the Canadian Automotive Museum, which may be of interest also.
For fans wishing to stay in Central Oshawa, La Quinta Inn & Suites Oshawa is a block away from the arena. Holiday Inn Express Oshawa is also a couple of blocks away.
Although it is difficult to assess fans during the pandemic years, Oshawa has consistently been in the top 4 in OHL attendance. In normal years, the Generals average over 5,000 fans per game, which is very strong for the OHL. Even in the pandemic challenged the year 2021-2022, the Generals have averaged over 3,100 fans and are fifth in the OHL. Generals fans are knowledgeable about the game and their team. They are also pretty typical of the Ontario sports fan, which is not over-the-top and fairly reserved, who knows when to cheer and when to jeer.
Getting to the Tribute Communities Centre is not too difficult. The arena is less than 3 km from Highway 401, the main east-west artery in Ontario. There are a few parking options near the arena and the traffic is not terrible in Central Oshawa. For fans wishing to take public transit to the game, there are some bus stops on King Street East, a block north of the arena. Fans should check out the Durham Region Transit website for maps, fares, and schedules.
Getting around in the TCC can be a little challenging, as it can be in many venues. The concourses are not huge and can get congested during intermissions when there is a big crowd. The washroom facilities are decent in the TCC. Security and Covid restrictions are consistently in flux in Ontario. Stadium Journey encourages fans to check out the Oshawa Generals website before heading to the game to be fully informed.
Return on Investment 5
Oshawa Generals hockey provides tremendous value for the sporting dollar. Seats range from $22 to $38 with the majority of seats at the $22 price point. Tickets will cost a couple of dollars more when purchased on game day. Parking can be found around the arena for around $5 and concession prices are average for this league. The product on the ice is fantastic and exciting. When compared with NHL hockey, the OHL experience gives far better bang for the fan’s buck.
An extra mark for the tremendous history enjoyed by the Oshawa Generals and the fantastic job that they do putting it on display at the Tribute.
An extra mark for the unique two-tone helmets that have been an Oshawa staple for years.
An extra mark for the lengthy rivalry that the Generals have fostered with the nearby Peterborough Petes.
Being one of the cornerstones of the OHL comes with some expectations. The Oshawa Generals meet those expectations and then some. Catching some Oshawa Generals hockey is a tremendous hockey experience and a spot where hockey fans will be glad that they came. It is a little strange sounding that the Generals no longer play in the General Motors Centre, but Generally Speaking, Oshawa knows its hockey.