Kingston Frontenacs

Arena Name: Leon's Centre
Capacity: 5,380
Built: 2008
Address: 1 Barrack St., Kingston, Ontario, K7K 0B4
Telephone No: (613) 542-4042
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1973-74
OHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Black, Gold, Silver & White
Official Web Site:
Venue Web Site:
Unofficial Sites: Fronts World, Fronts Talk - Message Board
Google Satellite: Click Here
Former Arena: Kingston Memorial Centre

Leon's Centre
K-Rock Centre
What's the Arena Like?
Shortly after the Kingston Memorial Centre closed, I received an email from a correspondent interested in talking about the old barn. I myself only ever visited it once, in 2005, but back then I found an arena that was a fun place to watch a game, but charitably speaking was a dump. My correspondent's short email simply said "I've been going to games at the Kingston Memorial Centre since 1962… and it was a dump back then too!"

The Frontenacs, long a hard-luck OHL franchise, deserved a turnaround, and the shift between the old barn and the new Leon's Centre is as striking as the difference between shinola and something that most certainly is not shinola. From first glance, the new rink looks terrific. The grey limestone architecture construction blends perfectly into Kingston's quaint and lively downtown, and it just feels like Kingston, perfectly suited to the surroundings. The second impression: the building gives new meaning to the word "shoehorned". Oh my. I don't believe I've ever seen an arena that is so constricted by its setting, as it feels like the Leon's Centre doesn't have an inch to breathe on any of its four sides.

The Place d'Armes site where the new arena sits is constrained by city blocks on four sides and also by the ruins of the old Fort Frontenac, and as such it has a unique footprint. King Street was actually narrowed to fit the new rink into the land, and there is absolutely no room to expand it anywhere. Yet some of the greatest ballparks and arenas in history were laid out with dimensions constricted by the necessity of fitting into a city block - Fenway Park's Green Monster being only one example of site dictating design – and in spite of the constraints, the new building is, surprisingly, roomy and spacious on the inside.

Ticket booths are set up facing the street, an unforgiveable sin in a hockey arena in Canada that conducts business during the winter months, but once you have your tickets, the lobby is striking. The concourse is luxuriously wide and limestone accents are everywhere. A large team store, a K-Rock broadcasting booth, a bar and a group events area are all set up in the concourse without impacting the traffic flow, and the concourse is easily one of the two widest in the OHL along with London's JLC. The Leon's Centre, though, brings back an old-school design touch, and is the only new rink I've ever seen that successfully duplicates the 1960's style twin concourse design. A second wide concourse extends around the top of the seating level, and the end result is one of the OHL's easiest buildings to navigate.

The class of the Leon's Centre continues in the seating bowl. The angle of seating is nearly perfect and the seats themselves are wide, comfortable and set up with ample leg room. A new scoreclock with an HD video screen hangs over centre ice, and a U-shaped ring of suites extends around the top of the building. Huge windows overlooking the ruins of Fort Frontenac appear in one end; there were black curtains drawn for my afternoon game, but I'm told that for night games the windows allow some natural moonlight into the building. There are more than enough washrooms to handle large crowds, and they're clean and spacious. From a technical standpoint, the Leon's Centre is among the class of the OHL, and is an easy rival of Oshawa's GM Centre as the best new arena in the league.

And yet, in spite of all of the above, the Leon's Centre wasn't entirely lovable. The limestone construction outside screams Kingston, but inside in the seating bowl, the arena is uniformly battleship grey – grey seats, grey exposed concrete, grey ceiling, grey steel beams holding the place up. Furthermore, there is nothing on the inside that really makes the arena belong to Kingston or the Frontenacs – if you took down the banners and painted over the logo at centre ice, the Leon's Centre could just as easily belong to any other CHL or minor league team. The fascias at the front of the suite level are blank concrete, with no advertising hoardings or signage to add colour, and sadly, the limestone accents did not make their way into the seating area. The flaws aren't unfixable – even a few cans of black and gold paint would go a long way – but for now the Leon's Centre's seating bowl is like an expensive formal living room in a large house that is largely for show. It's impressive to look at, but it doesn't feel like anyone actually lives there.

Game presentation is just OK in Kingston. The beautiful scoreboard is underused and the graphics package feels old-fashioned. Every stoppage in play, the scoreboard kept going back to the same graphic of the Erie Otters' logo (the opponent for the day) being dismantled in some manner and replaced by a Frontenacs' Circle-K. The sound system was technically perfect, but again underused, with long periods of silence in intermissions as opposed to the customary music. Another flaw I noticed is that the Leon's Centre is one of the only sports facilities I have ever been to where the section numbers are not displayed in some fashion from the seating bowl. That's not to say you can't find your seat – both concourses are well-marked – but when the announcer says during the game "Fans, turn your attention to Section 102...", you actually have no idea where to look, because Section 102 is not marked in any way.

Unfortunately, atmosphere is another stain on Leon's escutcheon. The Frontenacs have never been among the elite of the OHL, and while they could usually draw a decent crowd relative to capacity at the tiny Memorial Centre, those same decent crowds are now lost in the cavernous new arena. Cheers were lost in the abyss, and there was little in the way of fan enthusiasm during the game.

Few arenas in the OHL have been the cause of as much controversy as the Leon's Centre. The debates about how and where to build the building took place for years before the downtown site on the Place d'Armes was selected, and even now the neighbourhood group dedicated to stopping the arena's construction acts as a lobby and watchdog group over the trials and tribulations of the new rink. Based upon the lingering controversy and the shoehorned design, I was expecting a cramped facility borne out of political compromise. But that's not what the Leon's Centre is. It's a beautiful, spacious arena that's easily among the class of the OHL, and from the outside, it couldn't belong to any other city. The pity is that once inside, it very well could belong to any other team. One sincerely hopes that this is only a temporary issue, and that the team will make the Leon's Centre their own in seasons to come.

Ryan Petrynka says:
Just got back from the K-Rock Centre, Kingston's brand spanking new arena and home of the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs. The game itself was pretty good; Kingston played like crap for the first two periods then the coach lit a fire under the team's ass and somehow ended up winning 4-3 in OT over the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.

Kingston's downtown is hardcore traditional with limestone buildings, intricate stonework and cobblestone streets. In the middle of it all, right beside a Food Basics grocery store stands the K-Rock Centre. It looks great, it looks like a hockey arena, but in the midst of all of that tradition it just doesn't look right. There is limestone on the building so it doesn't stand as out of place as I originally thought - you can see it in that exterior shot that you posted. Those windows in the front are skylights that let natural light in onto the ice surface.

Inside, there's room, room and more room. Two wide concourses go all around the building with loads of space - one under the seats and one around the top, with a third staircase leading up to the luxury suites. Unfortunately one half of the middle concourse is reserved for members of "The Club" which is restricted access only. Somewhat annoying that you can't go all the way around the building on the middle concourse, but I guess if you pay for Club seating you'll get that privilege. However, my absolute favourite part of the K-Rock Centre is in one corner they've incorporated skylights, so for a Sunday afternoon game natural sunlight was shining through onto the seats and ice surface. Whomever came up with that idea, give yourself a pat on the back. Great job. The seating is very good but could be better. There's plenty of leg and shoulder room and the seats are on the perfect angle. Not so flat that you can't see over the heads in front of you, but not so steep like you're climbing a mountain (I'm looking at you, Cornwall Civic Complex). What makes no sense to me is that in the club sections the seats are fully padded, while in the ends (where I was sitting) it's hard plastic without any padding, yet you pay the same price for the non padded seats and for the padded. They really should have put padded seats all the way around or charge a couple bucks less for sitting in the plastic seats.

There are full videoboards on all four sides of the centre ice scoreboard, and the people running it actually know how it works! Whenever there's a penalty or goal they show the replay up on the boards along with birthday announcements and promotions. One animation they throw up there is called the Noise Meter that goes up as the fans get louder. Every time they threw this up on the screen the 4,300 fans inside went CRAZY! A word of warning to opposing teams - when the Noise Meter goes up on the screen, put your best players out on the ice! Being that the building is called the K-Rock Centre, music is mostly modern and classic rock with some traditional arena music thrown in. Every time a period starts, Motörhead's "Time To Play The Game" plays - yes this is the same song that was written for professional wrestler Triple H - but being a fan of old school metal, I have to give props for the song selection. (Ed: There are only two bands that are any good - the Ramones and Motörhead.) The sound system is crystal clear and top notch, again being that it's called the K-Rock Centre the designers couldn't skimp on the speakers - they had to rock.

Ushers are well dressed and seemed friendly and professional, the little high school student that served me a popcorn and Coke called me "sir" even though I'm not much older than she is and I was wearing a St. Lawrence College jacket. There doesn't appear to be enough concessions - unless you get to the start of the line at the beginning of intermission, you might miss the first couple minutes of the next period. Fans were encouraged to make noise and use horns and other noisemakers. I nearly lost my voice from yelling so loud and didn't hear a peep from the arena personnel. One guy in front of me had a small camera and was taking pictures so I imagine it's OK, but I'd double check to make sure before bringing a camera in.

Kingston's downtown has a reputation for not having a lot of parking. There are several paid parking lots within a short walk and parking on the street is free after I believe 5PM, but there isn't any parking actually on site! Apparently there were enough spots since the announced attendance was 4,340 (max capacity's 5,700) so they must've found a place to park. However I think it's only a matter of time before the city purchases the next-door grocery store and tears it down to create an on-site parking area. Washroom facilities are adequate, and I saw no lineups at a game with 4,800 in attendance. I glanced inside the Pro Shop and there was a lot of room but not a lot of stuff. Hopefully it'll be better stocked once the next season starts.

The atmosphere doesn't quite recreate what used to be in the old Kingston Memorial Centre, which, as run down and decrepit as it was, was an amazing building in terms of atmosphere. However the fans in Kingston are passionate about their team despite the Fronts being in last place in the division. It was kind of quiet (except for the aforementioned Noise Meter) for the first two periods. When the team started playing better in the third period and OT the fans really started getting behind their team and honestly I think that's what won them the game.

The K-Rock Centre is a really, really great place to watch a hockey game; there's not a bad seat in the house. Unfortunately the lack of on-site parking keeps this grade from being an A-grade building. Bravo Kingston, you spent money wisely, didn't skimp on too much (except for those plastic seats and lack of parking) and because of that the K-Rock Centre turned out great.

If you have any stories or photos to contribute, please send them to .
Inside the Leon's Centre
K-Rock Centre
Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace the K-Rock Centre.
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
I encountered no difficulty whatsoever in Kingston.

How To Get There

From the West: Take Exit #615 (John A. MacDonald) all the way down to the water (Lake Ontario). Turn left on King Street and follow it all the way to Barrack St. The arena will be on your right.

From the East: Exit at #619 (Montreal St.) and head south to Queen St in the heart of downtown. Turn left. When the road dead-ends at the waterfront/Ontario St., turn left again. The arena will be on your left.

Parking is wherever you can find it in the surrounding area, on side streets and in private lots. There isn't much of it.
Franchise History
The Kingston Frontenacs began their life as the Kingston Junior Canadians in 1973. The team had the same name as the old Montreal Junior Canadiens, who had previously played in the OHL, but the new team had no relation to the old one other than the name. (The OHL officially recognized the new Kingston team as a "reactivating" of the "dormant" Montreal franchise, but the Montreal ownership, players and everything else had transferred to the Q.) The Junior Canadians name was used until 1988, when a new owner changed the name to the Raiders and the colours to black and silver. Mercifully the Raiders only lasted for one year, and were subsequently renamed again, becoming the black and gold-coloured Frontenacs. The OHL team are only the most recent Kingston hockey team to use the name; it has been associated with Kingston hockey history for over a century.
Honoured Numbers
The Frontenacs have honoured several numbers, although none of them are officially retired.

5 Mike O'Connell
7 Tony McKegney
7 Mike Zigomanis
10 Brad Rhiness
14 Ken Linseman
17 David Ling
88 Keli Corpse
Local Rivals
Ottawa, Peterborough and Belleville.

About the City

By Kingstonian Mister DB:
Kingston was Canada's first capital city and was originally a military establishment designed to fend off the Americans during the War of 1812. The British garrison was called Fort Henry and still stands today, as does Canada's Royal Military College, which is the Canadian Armed Forces' main officer training school. Kingston is a port for the Great Lakes and was home to Canada's first Prime Minister - Sir John A Macdonald. Kingston is close to the US border which is 20 minutes away, plus the casino in Gananoque which is 15 min away. It is a beautiful old city with lots of old limestone buildings and architecture. Kingstonians love their city but hate the local city politicians. The population is approximately 110,000.

Kingston is a tourist town with many good bars and restaurants. The downtown waterfront bars are great, lots of action, we have the Grand Theatre for theatre plus there are a lot of city parks along the waterfront. Places to eat like Chez Piggies, la chein noir, Grecco's, Mino Lonestar, Brandy's, The Brew Pub and the area known as the Hub are all great. Kingston is home to Queen's University which is one of Canada's finest schools, and also to St. Lawrence Collage. There are several museums worth visiting including Old Fort Henry (must see - especially the sunset ceremony), Murney Tower, Sir John A Macdonald's house, and the Penetentiary Museum. There are several manufacturing plants including Alcan and Dupont. The military is a major employer as are the Kingston Penetentiaries.

With all the jails around welfare rolls in Kingston are high. Families of the incarcerated move into town and don't move out. Crime rate is not any higher than the national average but one would think it would be lower without the pens. Resistance to change is huge. Kingston is an older, gentrified city and there is a large "not in my backyard" attitude which combines with inept local city politicians to ensure that nothing ever gets done.

Famous Kingstonians include Don Cherry, Doug Gilmour, Kirk Muller, Wayne Cashman, Rick Smith, Bill and Bun Cook, Sir John A Macdonald, Simon Whitfield, and Ryan Malcolm. Kingston is also controversially considered the birthplace of hockey.

For more information visit Kingston Tourism's website.
Another Look Inside the Leon's Centre
K-Rock Centre


If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at Email and I'll update the guide.



Copyright © Kevin Jordan 2002-10.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: February 23, 2010