Generals

Oshawa Generals

Arena Name: Tribute Communities Centre
Capacity: 5,500
Built: 2006
Address: 99 Athol Street East, Oshawa, ON, L1H 1J8
Telephone No: (905) 728-5163
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1937-38, folded 1953, re-founded 1962-63
OHL Championships: 13, in 1937-38, 1938-39, 1939-40, 1940-41,
1941-42, 1942-43, 1943-44, 1965-66, 1986-87, 1989-90, 1990-91,
1996-97 & 2014-15
Memorial Cup Championships: 5, in 1939-40, 1940-41, 1943-44,
1989-90 & 2014-15
Colours: Red, Blue & White
Official Web Site: OshawaGenerals.com
Venue Web Site: TributeCommunitiesCentre.com
Former Arenas: Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Trenton Community Gardens
Bowmanville Memorial Arena
Oshawa (Hambly's) Arena

OHL

 Tribute Communities Centre

Tribute Communities Centre

 What's the Arena Like?

First Visit: January 11, 2007
CHL Arena: 28
OHL Arena: 23

In spite of having the longest history of any OHL team still operating, before November of 2006 the Oshawa Generals had never managed to do something that's completely routine in nearly all other parts of the hockey world - they had never managed to successfully move out of an intact arena. Spectacular fires in 1928 and 1953 totally demolished the city's first two major arenas homes, Bradley's Arena and Hambly's Arena, and the second of those two fires necessitated an interruption of the franchise's history, as they folded prior to the 1953-54 season and weren't re-founded until 1962-63. Even then, they played the first couple of reborn seasons in Bowmanville. When the rapidly aging Civic Auditorium finally closed in October 2006, it closed in a great ceremony, with no arsonists, children with matches, or anthropomorphic safety bears in sight. At long last, the Generals had beaten the Curse of the Human Torch and his Flaming Kin. A week later the Generals moved into their new home, a palatial building benefitting their status as one of Canada's most historic franchises.

The Tribute Communities Centre stands on the southern fringes of Oshawa's dingy but resurging downtown core. Much like Budweiser Gardens in London, it is a proud, tall building with an iconic tower and main entrance plaza that is perfect for pedestrians and for congregating before the game. The plaza also has a small public skating rink embedded in it, which is a great touch, although unseasonable January warmth necessitated its closure for my first visit. The main entrance at the corner of Athol and Mary Streets features a big marquee sign, while around the rear side of the building is a small, passes-only parking lot and a second community ice pad. Public parking is in small lots throughout the core, on the streets, and also in a tall parking garage a block away up Mary Street. The main lobby in Oshawa features a long line of ticket windows, a large and well-stocked team store, and a grand staircase that leads up directly into the arena concourse. Once up the stairs, the wide concourse opens directly onto the seating bowl.

It's not a common feeling in the OHL to really feel like you're "somewhere"; that is, most OHL buildings are smallish or quaint or quirky and obviously built for juniors (although that is a big part of the charm). There are a few exceptions - London, Ottawa, Kitchener - but for the most part, in the OHL, you never get that professional, big-game feeling. It's there in Oshawa. The first view of the seating bowl is stunning - the arena is done up in stylish tan and dark grey accents, and it is obvious that no expense was spared in the arena's construction. The seats are maroon - why they chose the team colours of the Generals' archrivals is beyond me - but there are a lot of them, in a wide oval around the ice. Above the seats is a ring of suites that run down both sides of the building, while in the ends there are plaza concourse levels which are, unfortunately, off-limits to the public during games. It's a shame - the view up there for standing-room would be terrific. Signs line the four walls marking the streets which run outside the rink, which is a design cue obviously pilfered from the Air Canada Centre. This makes sense as the arena was managed originally by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, whose corporate stranglehold oozes over the Greater Toronto Area like maple syrup. The one side of the rink features a two-story restaurant overlooking the ice, and finally, way up near the roof, is a small, gondola-style press box overhanging the seats. True gondolas are out of fashion these days, so it's nice to see a new building include one. A recent addition is banners - the GM Centre will never allow visitors to forget the past success of the Generals team, with five Memorial Cup and thirteen OHL Championship banners hanging proudly and ostentatiously over the visitors' net.

Once the game begins the professionalism of the arena continues. Leg room is ample and seats are comfortable, while in the standing room sections, the building includes - amazingly - coathooks for each standing spot! It's such a simple idea, and yet it's one I haven't seen included anywhere else. Views of the ice are good from anywhere in the building. The sound system is clear and precise without being overpowering, although I was saddened to see that the team has given up on my favourite tradition from the old Auditorium, that being the playing of the Hockey Night in Canada theme song before every period. The scoreboard is light-years ahead of the tiny clock at the old rink, with four massive sides including HD video boards. Assorted new building kinks were about the only flaw at the Tribute Communities Centre for my first visit, but by the second one in 2008, the flaws were mostly gone. The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, still under construction for my first visit, is now open, and rivals Peterborough's for the best in the league. However, there are a few other omissions still, most notably a time clock (not a hockey timing device but an ordinary AM/PM clock). Other than that, the building is pretty solid. The only other major complaint is the lack of washrooms - there aren't nearly enough for a new building, and those that exist are far too small to handle even small crowds. I made my first visit on a Thursday night with only 3,600 of the 5,500 seats filled, and the washrooms were still lined way up in every intermission. For my second visit the building was sold out, and the lines were even worse.

Like other motor cities around the world from Detroit to Coventry to Windsor, Oshawa has had a rough go of it in recent years, with the auto sector's downturn shrinking union jobs in town as the massively expanding Toronto suburbs overwhelm the once independent city and suck the lifeblood out of its downtown. The old Civic Auditorium didn't really fit the feel of the old industrial city - although it was stark, spartan and filled with blue-collar fans, it was also located in a quiet suburb surrounded by playing fields and parking lots. That has changed now - the Tribute Communities Centre feels like Oshawa. It's a palace by OHL standards and has easily knocked off the Paramount Centre from its title as best new mid-size arena, but the grittiness of old Oshawa is right outside the front door to lend ambience to the building. They built it right in Oshawa, and while the new rink's quietish atmosphere isn't much compared to the electric old building yet, that will return with time as the building settles in. The best compliment I can pay to the Tribute Communities Centre is to say that it couldn't have been built for any other team. And just think - in twenty years when the current seats wear out, maybe then they'll order blue and red ones and the building will be perfect.

 Inside Tribute Communities Centre

General Motors Centre

 Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace Tribute Communities Centre.

 Franchise History
The city of Oshawa began in the Ontario Hockey Association in the 1908-09 season, playing out of Bradley's Arena on Duke St. The team played in orange and black and contested in a league with teams such as the Owen Sound Greys and Orillia. In June of 1928 Bradley's Arena burned to the ground, and the Oshawa team was left homeless. By 1930 a new arena had opened, called both Oshawa Arena or Hambly Arena, and in 1937-38 the Oshawa entry was renamed the "Generals", after General Motors of Canada, the city's largest employer. Oshawa dominated junior hockey in the 30's and 40's, and the Generals were the class of the country. On September 15, 1953, Hambly Arena suffered the same fate as its predecessor when it caught fire and burned to the ground. (The arena fire was a major event in Oshawa's history and many old-timers in town still can remember it clearly.) The Generals were homeless once again.

At this point, the Generals essentially disbanded for lack of a place to play, but the people of Oshawa never lost their will to bring back the team, and in the early 1960's the Generals were reborn under Wren Blair. They played one season, 1962-63, in the fledgling Metro Junior A league operated by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but when that league collapsed they successfully applied to be re-admitted to the OHA. From their reformation to partway through the 1964-65 season the Generals played in the nearby Bowmanville Memorial Arena, as there was still no suitable home within the Oshawa city limits. The Generals finally moved back to Oshawa with the December 11, 1964 opening of the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, where they remained until the Tribute Communities Centre opened late in 2006. The interruption of Generals history explains why both Peterborough and Oshawa both claim to be the league's oldest franchise.

 Retired Numbers
2 Bobby Orr
9 Red Tilson
22 Tony Tanti
27 Marc Savard
88 Eric Lindros
91 John Tavares

While it was finally retired in 2006 for another player, the Generals had not issued number 9 to any players since 1984 in memory of Bruce Melanson, a Generals player who collapsed and died of a rare heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome during a practice in 1984.

 Banners in Oshawa

Tribute Communities Centre

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


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Last Revised: October 18, 2019