Barrie Molson Centre
Beautiful from the outside, the Barrie Molson Centre has one of the best modern designs in the league, and also has a shiny new-building atmosphere in spite of its slowly advancing age. Yet the Molson Centre also is the league's quietest building, and is too small to host major tournaments. The prototype for new buildings in Guelph and Sarnia and Mississauga, Barrie feels almost like a beautiful new building that time has already made redundant.
Architecture: Grade A
With a sweeping roofline, a massive marquee sign, and polished yellow brick, Barrie's architecture is among the league's best for new buildings. The arena stands out of the suburbs where it is constructed and sits proudly and handsomely on its landscaped grounds.
Interior Layout and Design: Grade B
It's pretty easy to move around in Barrie, even with the trademark full-house crowd. Wide concourses allow easy movement and the restaurant is kept out of the way rather than in the middle of things.
Seating: Grade B
Views are good in Barrie, as the building's small size and surprisingly steep rake of the seats provides excellent views. Seats are comfortable plastic. The grade is lowered slightly by the building's strange and inexplicable decision to place the luxury suites right up against the glass rather than in the back, but overall, even the worst seats in Barrie have a great view.
Scoreboard: Grade B
Note: Barrie has installed a new video board which I have not yet made the trip to evaluate.
A standard-grade OHL board with a few burnt-out bulbs indicating a slight level of neglect is supplemented by four projection video screens that are a little hard to see. The projection screens deserve an E for effort, but the setup isn't quite good enough to earn an A.
Arena Employees: Grade B
No good or bad experiences to speak of. Barrie's staff are normal people who do a normal job.
Facilities: Grade A
If nothing else, Barrie's suburban location allows a gigantic parking lot. Washrooms are decent. The full-service restaurant is a nice touch. The team store is fully-stocked and supplemented with a few small kiosks around the concourse. A-level material.
Atmosphere: Grade D-
It's hard to tell which building is the quietest on a day-to-day basis between Barrie and Brampton, but on the rare occasions that Brampton fills up their rink, their crowds are loud enough. Barrie's are just subdued. Try not to fall asleep.