CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE
STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANKING: #31
- Location: Kanata, Ontario
- Opened 1996
- Capacity 17,373
- Games attended: 8
- Last visited: 2019
My wife is from Ottawa and has most of her family there. We go visit annually at the least. For the most part, I like my in-laws. But I don’t like Ottawa. I don’t like the Ottawa Senators. And relatively speaking versus other NHL arenas, I don’t like the Canadian Tire Centre.
Ottawa is the City that Fun Forgot. It’s a town of people who don’t award Monopoly players landing on Free Parking all the fines collected from the Community Chest and Chance cards because “it’s not in the official rules on the back of the box”. Because the team entered the league in 1992, any Senators fan over 40 rooted for somebody else (likely the Canadiens or the Leafs) and converted, making most Gen X and Boomer Senator fans phonies. And their team has always annoyed me; when they were good, they always seem to have a bunch of whiners and bellyachers. This rating is subject to a lot of negative bias.
But even the unbiased aren’t huge fans of their barn. Located in BF Nowhere (actually, the Western suburb of Kanata), access to and from the rink is on one road with 90%+ of the traffic coming in from the same direction; this makes ingress and egress a colossal Pain in the Ass, especially on those snowy winter Ottawa nights. The parking lot often feels like the coldest place in Canada, making the dash to and from your car an utter sprint. And there’s not much in and around the arena, making the game a get-in/get-out destination.
And to top things off, unlike every other Canadian market that sells virtually every seat regardless of the team fortunes, Senators fans will stay home when the team is down. Already, Sens ownership has tarped off 1,500+ seats to reduce capacity to 17,400, but even with that, it’s common to see many empty seats. In fact, in recent seasons, they have sold the lowest percentage of their seats of any team, including teams in the Sun Belt. The in-rink vibe can be somewhat lacking versus other markets, especially in down years.
The arena itself is fine. There’s comfy (if somewhat ratty) seats, good sightlines, above average food, easy-to-navigate concourses, and good leg room. There’s even a Canadian version of the Washington Nationals president’s race featuring the four Prime Ministers on Canadian monetary bills. But “fine”, with a poor location and mediocre vibe puts you near the bottom of the list of current NHL venues.