Barrie Molson Centre – Barrie Colts
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Twenty Years and Still Going Strong
The Barrie Molson Centre is credited for starting the trend of brand new medium-sized arenas in the Ontario Hockey League. With it being the first of its kind though, it has quickly fallen behind when it comes to some of the modern amenities, and has missed out on several attempts to host the CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup, with the last attempt being in 2014.
The rink is fairly easy to get to, as it’s right off the 400 at Mapleview Drive, but traffic can be a bit of a pain. Barrie is one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario, and the south end has had a bit of a difficult time keeping up with the demand of traffic. A new commercial development is located across from the BMC which adds to the already congested neighborhood. If you are driving to the arena, there is a large parking lot which is free to use off of Bayview Street, and is easy to get out of after a Colts game.
If you’re looking for a pre-game meal, and you don’t want to deal with the traffic, the Molson Centre has a restaurant connected to it called Horsepower Grill, and is only open on game days. There are seats that give you a pretty decent view of the ice surface from the north end, and can be purchased ahead of time. With the restaurant being at the front of the arena, along with the Colts store and offices, the main entrance is a little small, and can get congested. There is a second entrance at the south end of the building, but the parking lot is reserved for season ticket holders.
The layout of the area is easy to navigate, and the concourse allows you to walk around, but it is narrow due to concession stands, 50/50 draw tables and other promotions.
Once in the bowl, you will notice a lot of banners, and they’re not just for division titles and championships. At the north end, the Barrie Colts have banners showing alumni who are also Stanley Cup champions and they have various stats boards that show their all-time leaders for various categories. Another thing that stands out is that the BMC has box seats at ice level, which are on either side of the penalty box. With this set up, it makes getting a first row seat in sections 101, 102, 103, 126 and 127 really nice, as you have an unobstructed view of the ice, and a little higher up than being down at the boards.
Food & Beverage 4
The food within the BMC concession area is what you would expect at any OHL game; popcorn, pizza, candy bars, pop and beer. The one advantage that the Molson Centre does have an edge is the Horsepower Restaurant which you can attend before the game, or you can purchase tickets for restaurant seating which is at one of the ends. The food at Horsepower is very similar to any family restaurant, but there is plenty of Barrie Colts memorabilia throughout the restaurant to entertain both young and old hockey fans.
Fans in Barrie are passionate about their OHL team, but almost to the point where they’re so focused, they sometimes don’t make a sound. Many refer the Molson Centre as the library of the Ontario Hockey League and it’s noticeable in between whistles. Despite it being a quieter rink, some Colts fans have been known to be vocal when it comes to visiting fans and even radio broadcasters as there is barely any separation between the press box and fan seating. No matter what game it is, you do feel like you are a part of the action with the angle of the seating at the BMC.
There are several advantages for the location of the rink, but recent development in the area has made driving a bit of a pain. The south end of Barrie at Mapleview Drive and the 400 is one of the most congested areas in the city. If you are coming from out of town, you will want to give yourself a little extra time getting to rink during busy times. The arena is not far from the 400 which is a plus, and with the recent developments, there are plenty of food options across the street, along with plenty of free parking.
Despite not having a home radio broadcast like the other 18 teams in the league, Barrie games are often a sellout. The Colts have only missed the playoffs once in the last 20 years, and are known for making deep playoff runs which keeps bringing in the fans. With winning comes a lot of passion and pride among the Colts faithful.
Just like the traffic in the neighborhood, moving around the BMC can also be a bit of a challenge. There are several concession stands throughout the concourse, but it is fairly narrow, and is a bit of a challenge to get around. If you are a fan that likes to wait until the intermission to get your snacks, expect that journey to take the full intermission. The three entrances to the arena are also on the small side, but the ushers do a great job of moving fans through; the only issue is if fans decide to hangout in the those areas which can cause a bit of a hassle.
Return on Investment 5
You can never go wrong with attending an Ontario Hockey League game, but going to a game that’s full of fans makes it even better. With the success the Colts have had on the ice, it has also resulted in some great players going through the system before they end up in the NHL. There have been several players who have played with Barrie, and are now making a difference in the National Hockey League. Some of those recent players include Aaron Ekblad, Tanner Pearson, Joseph Blandisi, Kyle Clifford and Mark Schiefele.
Even though the fans may be a bit on the quiet side, the staff behind the scenes make going to a Colts game enjoyable. They use the centre ice scoreboard to their advantage by playing videos that gets the kids excited, they have the kiss game and even have a promotion that points out visiting fans. Overall, the crew at the BMC know how to make the in game experience fun, instead of keeping things the same year after year or bombarding you with ads every other minute.
One spot at Barrie Molson Centre that any sports fan should check out is the table set up by Ice Box Cards and Collectibles from Barrie. They are set up behind section 115 which has a wide variety of memorabilia which should entice any hockey fan.
Overall, it is a great experience at the Barrie Molson Centre, and it helps that the Colts tend to always ice a competitive team. If you are wanting to take in a game in Barrie as a neutral fan, you may want to consider a rivalry game against the Sudbury Wolves, North Bay Battalion or Owen Sound Attack, as the atmosphere gets a little more intense, along with plenty of physical play.
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Holiday Inn Barrie Hotel & Conference Centre
20 Fairview Rd
Barrie, ON L4N 4P3
Monte Carlo Inn Barrie Suites
81 Hart Dr
Barrie, ON L4N 5N3
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