Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
William Allman Memorial Arena
15 Morenz Dr
Stratford, ON N5A 6W5
Year Opened: 1924
Stratford, Ontario is probably best known as a city of entertainers. Stratford is the home to actors Cynthia Dale and Graham Greene and CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge. Retired CTV National News anchor Lloyd Robertson was born in Stratford and Justin Beiber got his start busking on the steps of the world-famous Stratford Festival Theatre in his younger days.
The world-famous Stratford Festival has seen such famous thespians take the stage for Shakespearean works as Colm Feore, Maggie Smith, and Christopher Plummer. However, a strong hockey tradition is also felt in Stratford. It is the birthplace of former NHLers Craig Hartsburg and Tim Taylor and has seen the likes of Nelson Emerson, Boyd Deveraux, and Greg de Vries all take the ice in Stratford. The Stratford Warriors, formerly the Stratford Cullitons are a Junior B institution in the GOJHL and have iced a team since 1962.
The home of the Warriors is a true throwback. The William Allman Memorial Arena opened its doors in 1924 and is celebrating its 100th season. Owned by the City of Stratford, the old-school hockey barn is a celebrated venue yet a throwback to an era long past. Named after the late caretaker of the arena, who took care of the arena for 47 years, the Allman Arena is a designated Heritage Site and is purported to be the longest continuous operating arena of its kind in the world.
Food & Beverage 3
Concession options at the Allman Arena are fairly basic and are what would be expected of a local arena. The concession stand is in the lobby at the west end of the arena. Regular snack bar items like pizza, nachos, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and candy are all on the menu. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and Coca-Cola products are the soft drink selections. During the game, beer is sold in the upper corner of the concourse until the end of the second intermission.
The William Allman Memorial Arena is a throwback to a previous generation and has been painstakingly maintained to its 1924 glory with a few modern modifications. The exterior of the arena is fairly innocuous, featuring brown brick, several windows, and a section of glass blocks. It looks like a regular community arena.
The dedication plaque to William Allman and the Heritage designation greet patrons as they enter the west side of the arena, the main entrance. Entering the arena, fans are led into the main lobby, which is oozing with Stratford hockey history. The ticket windows, which still offer actual paper tickets, are on the west side of the lobby. The east walls of the lobby are covered with team pictures of the Warriors and the previously named Stratford Cullitons along with several massive trophy cases.
The cases are an absolute treasure trove for fans who love to see hockey artifacts. Items from local products such as Craig Hartsburg and Tim Taylor are featured, highlighting their NHL and Team Canada accomplishments.
Entering the ice surface, whether from the ice level or the steps to the upper level, is where the fan is taken back in time. The main arena seating bowl is seven rows of wooden, double “love” seats, which are the original 1924 wood and refinished and repainted. The exterior walls, behind the breezeway behind the seats, are painted red, white, and blue brick, with large painted section letters. Curved iron beams create the structure and give the high, arched, white wooden ceiling the barn look that is so prevalent in old-school arenas.
The breezeway behind the seats is divided by a wooden, full-length, railing in front of a row of wooden box benches. The hardwood in the breezeway is also the original 1924 flooring. The ice surface runs from east to west and the spot to get the centre ice logo pic is from the north. Above centre ice is a dot matrix hockey score clock.
The perimeter of the ice, high above the boards, is circled with youth hockey banners. In the centre are the banners honouring the eight Sutherland Cups as Junior B hockey champions in Ontario, and the thirteen Cherrey Cups as the previous league champions, before the consolidation of Junior B hockey. Banners honouring the father-son management-coach duo of Denis Flanagan Sr. and Denis Flanagan Jr. also hang above centre ice. Finally, a banner for the 2010 Hockey Day in Canada celebrated in Stratford is prominent.
The gameday production at a Warriors game is fairly simple. Music plays during downtimes. Although it seems that the Allman Arena does have a modern PA system, there were pretty significant sound issues during the game that was attended for this review.
Stratford is a city of over 33,000 residents and relies heavily on tourism. The William Allman Memorial Arena is just south of the Avon River, and three blocks north of Ontario Street, the main street through Stratford. There are a large number of local spots for fans to get a pre or post-game meal or drink. Some of the best include Fellini’s, Bentley’s, the Boar’s Head, Pazzo, and Mercer Kitchen. All are within a short walk of the arena. Further east of downtown, there are several chain restaurants as well.
The Warriors are the only sporting option in town. Other GOJHL teams are close in Waterloo and St. Mary’s and there are some Junior C options close by also. At heart, however, Stratford is a theatre town. The famous Stratford Festival has four theatres in Stratford, the Festival, Avon, Studio, and Tom Patterson, which is right across Morenz Drive from the Arena. Morenz Drive is named after the famous Montreal Canadien Howie Morenz, who was born in nearby Mitchell, Ontario. For fans wishing to stay in Stratford, there are several hotel options including the Mercer Inn and Best Western Arden Park, not to mention several Bed and Breakfast options.
The Stratford Warriors are among the best-supported teams in the GOJHL. The Warriors averaged 580 fans per game in the 2022-2023 season and averaged 670 fans per game at the time of writing in the 2023-2024 season. This ranked fourth in the entire GOJHL for both seasons. The fans in attendance are supportive, however, are often vocal with referees about calls.
Stratford is located west of Kitchener-Waterloo and northeast of London. The William Allman Memorial Arena is north of the main downtown area, just south of the Avon River. Highway 7/8 is the main road through downtown, and getting to Stratford is not difficult. Parking at the Allman Arena is limited to spots on the north side of the arena and some street parking.
The area is busy with the Tom Patterson Theatre just across the street and getting out can be a challenge if the play and the hockey game end around the same time. For fans wishing to take public transit, Stratford Transit buses travel Ontario and Romeo Streets. Those interested should consult the Stratford Transit website for fares, maps, and schedules.
Getting around the Allman Arena can be a bit of a challenge. The breezeways behind the seating bowl are narrow and traversing stairs to get there will be required. Purchasing tickets at the door, the only option as online sales are not happening as of this writing will get a patron a General Admission ticket. When choosing a seat, fans need to be aware of seats that are reserved for season ticket holders. Most seats that are reserved have an “R” sticker or season ticket holder sticker. Washroom facilities are decent for the arena.
Return on Investment 5
The return on investment for Stratford Warriors hockey is excellent. Tickets are $12 each at the door. Students and Seniors are $10 and kids under 5 are free. Parking is free and concession prices are decent. On the ice, the level of hockey is good and the atmosphere is also good. The opportunity to absorb all that the historic venue has to offer puts the experience over the top.
An extra mark for the City of Stratford doing an excellent job of maintaining the 100-year-old arena and restoring it to glory as much as possible.
An extra mark for the Stratford Warriors and Stratford Cullitons alumni who have gone on to the NHL including Rob Blake, Ed Olczyk, Garth Snow, and Chris Pronger amongst a long list of great players.
An extra mark for Wayne Gretzky scoring his first competitive goal as a youth at the William Allman Memorial Arena.
An extra mark for the Warriors logo, which replaced the classic Chiefs head logo, which incorporates elements of Stratford. The English Knight is a nod to the Shakespearean Festival and the swan underneath is a nod to the numerous swans who frequent the Avon River and are part of the Annual Swan Parade.
The opportunity to see hockey in a unique venue such as the William Allman Memorial Arena in an excellent tourist city like Stratford, Ontario is something that hockey fans should not pass up. The Stratford Warriors are a Junior B institution and the price is right to take the whole experience in. To hockey or hockey later … that is the question!