Canadian Tire Center – Ottawa Senators
United in Red
The original Ottawa Senators were founded in 1883. In those early years the team enjoyed unprecedented success including runs of four and three Stanley Cups in a row. Eventually the team would join the new National Hockey League and win another four Stanley Cups. However, the 1930’s would not be productive for the Senators and they would eventually move to St. Louis before being dissolved. Fast forward ahead to 1992 and the Senators would again take the ice to the surprise of most and the chagrin of residents of Hamilton, Ontario. Ottawa would successfully procure an expansion franchise in the NHL when most expected that franchise to go to Hamilton. The early seasons in the second incarnation of the Senators would be wrought with turmoil. Terrible seasons on the ice coupled with front office instability would eventually lead the Senators to be bankrupt. In 2003, Biovail Chair Eugene Melnyk would rescue the Senators, purchasing them and their arena out of bankruptcy court, preserving hockey in the nation’s capital.
The current home for the Senators is the Canadian Tire Centre, located in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Formerly the Palladium, Corel Centre and Scotiabank Place, the Canadian Tire Centre has been panned by critics for its remote location. Controversy followed the Senators in their move from their temporary home at the Ottawa Civic Centre to Kanata. It is widely accepted that the poor location choice for the home of the Senators was due to the owner at the time owning land in Kanata. Over time, the Kanata area has continued to develop and although the Canadian Tire Centre remains far from downtown Ottawa, it is far less isolated than it was in 1992. That being said, there are still rumblings of the Senators seeking a new home closer to downtown Ottawa and a development bid on LeBreton Flats has even taken place.
Since their rescue from the depths of despair in 2003, the Senators have seen quite a bit of success on the ice and at the turnstiles. This has culminated in a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the 2007. The Senators fans have dubbed themselves Sens Army and continue to cry out that Sens fans are United in Red.
Food & Beverage 5
The Canadian Tire Centre has a solid array of concession options.
The Canadian Tire Centre has partnered with a number of well-recognized restaurants to provide Sens fans with a significant variety of concession options. Bytown Grill offers a variety of burger options. The 212 Deli & Pub offers a variety of hand carved sandwiches including roast beef and smoked meat. The Farm Boy Fresh Zone offers a variety of healthier options including sandwiches and salads. Fat Boys has smoked barbecue options and Golden Palace Egg Rolls has homemade egg rolls and plum sauce. Other major chains are present at the Canadian Tire Centre including Pizza Pizza. The spots you probably want to check out are Smoke’s Poutinerie and the brand new Smoke’s Burritorie. High quality poutine and burritos are on the menu and are really a Canadian staple.
As far as beverages are concerned, you will find Coca-cola products throughout the Canadian Tire Centre. The world famous Tim Hortons is on the premises with their staple hot beverages including coffee. As far as alcoholic beverages go Molson and Rickard’s products are readily available. If you head to the Molson Coors Beer Hall you can find a wider variety of beer options.
One of the more unique features of the Canadian Tire Centre is the number of alternative restaurants available in the facility. With the lack of surrounding neighbourhood and difficulty getting out of the parking lots, this became a necessity, but a welcome addition none the less. Reservations are accepted in many restaurants and the Canadian Tire Centre website offers lots of info including reservation info. Bert’s and Chek Point are good options in the CTC.
The Canadian Tire Centre offers a pretty good atmosphere for NHL hockey.
The outside of the Canadian Tire Centre is not all that special. While somewhat of a unique look, the striping on the upper facade of the building makes it look a bit like a refugee from the 1980’s. There is little glass used and there is a distinct lack of natural light entering the building. The design of the Canadian Tire Centre is similar to the Palace of Auburn Hills where there are a couple of levels that share a concourse. If you are an average fan, and do not hold tickets to the expensive 100 level, then you are immediately greeted by the stairs for which you will enter the upper concourse.
Inside the building the Senators do a fantastic job of showcasing their very unique history. There are murals honouring current and recent past Senators including Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson. There are also current murals advertising various aspects of the team. There are also a number of framed pictures from the first incarnation of the Sens, over 100 years ago.
In the seating bowl, the trek through history continues with the hanging of the 11 Stanley Cup banners spanning from 1903 through 1927. There is also the retired number 8 of Frank Finnigan, who was the last surviving member of the 1927 Senators Stanley Cup winning team. The Sens also have hung banners for their more recent successes including the 2007 Eastern Conference Championship and the 2003 Presidents’ Trophy.
The sightlines in the arena are very good and the ribbon boards and video board are more than adequate. The ice surface is an east-west configuration. If you are looking for that perfect picture then you want to sit on the north side of the arena. The southwest, upper corner of the Canadian Tire Centre is where you will find the Sens Army supporter section. If you want to sit near the action, then being near 312 is where you want to be.
The in-game production is about what you would expect for an NHL experience. The PA announcer does a decent job, of course offering announcements in both English and French. The music mix is a combination of typical anthem sports rock with pop and traditional hockey organ. One highlight for a Sens game is the National Anthems. The anthems are sung by Lyndon Slewidge, a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer, who sings the anthems in full dress to organ accompaniment. Make sure you are in your seats before the anthem hits!
The neighbourhood in the immediate walking distance of the Canadian Tire Centre is pretty barren, however a very short drive will bring you to an increasingly developing area with a number of options.
Essentially, the Canadian Tire Centre is surrounded by parking lots. This is good for parking, but not so good if you want to find a place to eat. If you head east on Highway 417 just one exit from the CTC, you will find a huge box mall with a variety of eating options. Most of the restaurants in this area are your typical chain tap and grill types including Montana’s, Jack Astor’s, Baton Rouge, Moxie’s and Boston Pizza. A couple of more unique options include Scores, Crazy Horse Stonegrill and Central Bierhaus. Keep in mind that parking can be an issue at this mall as it is very popular before games, so leave lots of time if you want to be there for puck drop. Of course you can also consider one of the restaurants that is in the CTC to alleviate some of these issues.
The Kanata area doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment options. However, the City of Ottawa is a fantastic tourist city with numerous festivals, museums and great things to do. If you are looking for a true experience, and you are in Ottawa in the winter months, then you assuredly want to bring your skates so that you can skate on the Rideau Canal. A tour of the Parliament Buildings is also a great idea and if you are looking for one museum to hit, then the War Museum is like no other. There are also a number of other sporting events in the city. Both the Ottawa RedBlacks of the CFL and Ottawa 67’s of the OHL play at Lansdowne Park, right by the Rideau. Carleton University is in town and fields a full slate of athletic teams. The football team plays at MNP Park, the hockey team plays at the Carleton Ice House and the legendary basketball team plays at the Ravens’ Nest. Also in town is the University of Ottawa, home of the Gee-Gees. Gee-Gees Field is home for the football team. The Minto Sports Complex is home for the hockey team and Monpetit Hall is home to the basketball team.
There are a couple of hotels in the immediate area surrounding the arena. At the end of Palladium Drive is the Country Inn & Suites. Not far away is the Holiday Inn.
Ottawa Senators fans have come a long way over the years.
Average attendance at Senators games is above the 18,000 fan per game mark. This puts the Senators around the mid-level of the NHL. Percentage of capacity filled for the Sens is around the mid-nineties. These figures are probably part and parcel due to the less than stellar showings the Senators have had on the ice in recent years. There is a little room for improvement but not a ton.
The crowd at a Senators game is generally pretty quiet. They get up and make noise for the big moments, but although they are a sophisticated hockey crowd, they do not produce fan noise like you would find in nearby Montreal. The budding exception is the Sens Army section. Section 312 is where the Sens Army supporter section is located. Sens Army is an attempt to produce a more soccer like atmosphere at a hockey game. It is unique in the NHL, and definitely in the infancy of their existence. Sens Army will bang the drum and chant, but they are not close to the same level of support that you would see at a MLS match. It will be interesting to see what will happen in future years for Sens Army and their growth.
Access to the Canadian Tire Centre is not great, and the location has been the most popular reason for criticizing the CTC.
The Canadian Tire Centre is located in the suburb of Kanata and is a significant distance from downtown Ottawa and the Parliament Buildings. It is located just south of Highway 417, also known as the Trans-Canada Highway. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the game as traffic can be an issue, especially coming from the east.
The city of Ottawa and the Senators have done a pretty decent job of attracting public transit to head to the CTC. Buses run on all of the surrounding streets including Terry Fox Dr., Frank Finnegan Way, Cyclone Taylor Blvd, and Huntmar Dr. Check out the OC Transpo website for rates, schedules and maps to help plan a trip to the CTC.
There is a ton of parking surrounding the CTC. Most patrons head to the game by car and finding a spot is not a problem. Capital Tickets, the Senators ticketing agent, has prepaid parking available on their site which is great for those who wish to keep the mystery out of finding a parking spot. Getting out after the game can be a real issue, with a lack of outlets traffic can be awful. Consider finding a spot in one of the restaurants for a post-game snack.
The main entry for the CTC is on the east end of the arena. Security is the over the top variety with the airport metal detectors. In other words, it is very slow. There are ticket windows at the east side entry also. The plus side for the entry is that there is a significant city-square like area for patrons to wait and meet.
Getting around the CTC is pretty easy with concourses of ample size. Intermissions can get a little crowded of course, but that is par just about anywhere you go. The washroom facilities are also adequate for a venue of this size.
Return on Investment 3
The return on investment for a Senators game is what you would expect from an average NHL experience.
Tickets for the Senators will run between $31 and $250. The Coke Zero zone offers a $30 ticket and may be the spot you want to be. Parking will run between $10 and $15 and concession prices are what you would expect for the NHL. In Ottawa, you will find a nice enough atmosphere and decent fan support. However, the Senators will not provide a once in a lifetime type experience that you may find in Chicago or Montreal. You will have a good time in Ottawa, but you will surely pay for it.
An extra mark for Lyndon Slewidge, a local police officer who sings the national anthems for the Sens. He does a fantastic job, and at times will be the highlight of the game. He finishes off with a wink and salute to the camera, and has become one of the more endearing traditions in the NHL.
An extra mark for the city of Ottawa, which offers numerous tourist attractions and many unique experiences.
An extra mark for the presence of francais at the Canadian Tire Centre, as the signage and announcements are all bilingual.
Sens Army is United in Red. You will have a good time if you hit an Ottawa Senators game. You will not be blown away with excitement, and you will probably experience an average NHL experience. It is curious to see if the Sens Army on the Ottawa experience transfers to the NHL experience at large.
Holiday Inn and Suites Ottawa Kanata
101 Kanata Ave
Ottawa, ON K2T 1E6
Country Inn and Suites Ottawa West
578 Terry Fox Dr.
Ottawa, ON K2L 4G8
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Latest Crowd Reviews
The first question I ask when I meet someone new in Ottawa is where are you from originally? We&amp#039re all imports, Ottawa is a beautiful city to move to and live a quiet existence. It is a professional town and somewhat reserved and most sports fans have previous allegiances, most will acknowledge that they are a Habs or Leafs fan first and Sens second.Ottawa has frequently been described as the town fun forgot, Ottawa will build facilities and have sports teams but generally the fan experience is geared exclusively to hardcore fans, little thought is given to broadening the experience for the casual fan. The RedBlacks have started to change this but the Senators are still lagging behind. Kanata is considered Silicon valley north, however the development of bars, restaurants etc... that was envisioned to neighbour the C.T.C has been slow developing. A typical night at a Sens game will see you have to drive to the game (some bus options exist from downtown, but from the burbs forget about it) fight traffic, arrive just in time for puck drop, leave early to beat the traffic out (no thought is given to changing traffic patterns outside arena to expedite the process)and then go home. Very few people use a Senators game as a springboard to a night out as the limited number of bars within proximity don&amp#039t lend to a party environment, or more so people likely head back home to their local haunt or just head back home. Ottawa lacks a large corporate base, thus the pressure is on the individual to pack the arena, fewer businesses are buying boxes or season tickets (changes in provincial laws re: tax write offs for entertainment have hurt too)and much goodwill that had been created has been wiped out by many public missteps by owner Eugene Melnyk, culminating most recently in the trade of Star player Erik Karlsson for pennies a glass. Plain and simple unless you are a bona fide hockey fan (and the product on the ice is currently lacking) there is little reason to go to a Senators game these days. Chatter of a move to a new stadium downtown is perpetual, and at points has gone from being a lock to mere speculation, should this come to fruition could it be the shot in the arm this tired Organization needs? Perhaps, overall the Senators need a change of leadership and focus to re-engage many disenchanted fans. The summer of 2018 has seen many events that each would appear to be rock bottom for the franchise until the next event, here is hoping the bounce back begins now.