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  • Andrew Kulyk

Westoba Place - Brandon Wheat Kings

Photos by Andrew Kulyk, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Westoba Place 1175 18th St Brandon, MB R7A 7C5

Year Opened: 1972

Capacity: 6,042

Westman Place in Brandon

The arena for the Western Hockey League Brandon Wheat Kings is called the Westman Communications Group Place, a mouthful of a corporate name, which is a 6,042 seat arena built as part of a larger convention/exhibition complex called the Keystone Centre. It was built in 1972 and has undergone numerous renovations.

Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this review, Westman Place was renamed Westoba Place. The facility is referred to by its former name in this review.

Food & Beverage 3

Food presentation is not one of the stronger features here. It is the typical ballpark fare of fresh popped popcorn, hot dogs, smokie dogs, a Pizza Hut stand, soda pop and draught beer (17 oz – $6.25, 12 oz – $5). So weren’t we surprised to find an elaborate and well appointed coffee concession in the place, the menu of which would rival any urban coffee house bistro. Named “Forbidden Flavors”, the stand offered lattes, espressos, mochaccino, various steamed teas and hot chocolates, iced coffee drinks and ice cream. The baristas were working hard behind the counter and doing their thing to move the long line of customers.

Atmosphere 2

Considering this is the only game in town, the place seemed a bit dead. Granted, the visiting team rolled over the Wheat Kings on the night of this visit, giving the locals little to cheer about. A nice four sided HD scoreboard shows great videos, but little in the way of cool clips or team montages to get folks into the game.

Neighborhood 2

All of Brandon is pretty much a sterile, suburban style bedroom community. The arena complex sits on a six lane highway (18th st), directly across from a plethora of strip plazas and eateries. Casual dining chains Applebees and The Keg Steakhouse are right there, and a Boston Pizza is right around the corner. We were lucky to stumble upon an awesome sports bar, right near the arena, called Joe Beeverz. Their Canadian based menu includes such awesome dishes as “Hangover Poutine,” a poutine loaf topped with fried eggs and bacon. They even add bacon to the maple sauce on the cheesecake. We also heard good things about Gulliver’s Grill on Park Ave.

Fans 3

The venue was the host for the 2010 Memorial Cup, and that distinction is awarded to teams that have a solid base of fan support. The team ranks in the upper end of attendance in the Western Hockey League (WHL). This is no small feat considering that the Wheat Kings are the easternmost of the franchises in the WHL, and the only one in Manitoba, depriving them of natural rivalries.

Access 4

There are acres of parking lots on the Keystone Centre property, offering ample parking for visitors. There is no public transportation option in Brandon, so getting here via car or by foot is the way to go. At this point we should probably mention the poor entry/exit design of the building itself. The poorly marked main entrance is attached to the larger exhibition hall, but there are multiple sets of doors on the other three sides of the arena, accessed at the top of long stairs. Only problem is, those doors lead directly into the concourse, meaning that every time the doors remain open, blasts of cold air pour into the venue. They control that to a point by stationing guards at the door and they open and quickly close them as guests come into the building.

Return on Investment 5

Single game tickets for adults run $17. Seniors and students tickets are $12-$14. Couple that with the free parking and the very reasonable concession prices, and this all amounts to a cheap night out.

Extras 1

Small showcases of jerseys and memorabilia can be found in the main entrance lobby. That is also the end of the building where the Wheat King’s championship banners hang in the rafters.

**Andrew Kulyk is a stadium travel expert. Follow all of his journeys at The Ultimate Sports Road Trip.

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