General


Oshawa Generals

Arena Name: Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Capacity: 4025
Built: 1964
Last Game: 2006
Demolished: 2010
Address: 99 Thornton Road South, Oshawa, Ontario, L1J 5Y1
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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OHL
Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Oshawa Civic Auditorium
What was the Arena Like?
The Oshawa Civic Auditorium is an older OHL building which sits on the southwest side of Oshawa in a predominantly residential district. Across from the main facade on Thornton Road is a 1960's vintage subdivision of middle-class homes. The Auditorium is a smallish building constructed on a hillside with brownish-red brick and cream-coloured aluminum siding, and a small sign on the front that announces the building's name in orange letters. The main feature of the front side of the building is a huge staircase which serves as an emergency exit. Around the back of the building is a large parking lot, and the building appears to be only one storey tall back there as the rest of the arena is below the hillside into which it's constructed. The architecture is dated and few outside the Generals' large fanbase could call the building anything but ugly.

The Auditorium is actually a sports complex which includes a swimming pool and a detached football stadium. The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame is located in the lobby, and there is also the "Bobby Orr Lounge" for season-ticket holders. The arena is the main focus, though, and once inside the tiny main lobby of the Auditorium you see small doors with a small, understated sign that reads "Auditorium". Once you're through the doors the arena opens in front of you. The first sight is both impressive and surprising. The building looks small from the outside, but once inside you realise just how small the arena is as the ceiling is so low that you could practically reach up and touch it from the top of the concourse. The arena is designed in the then-popular design of an upper concourse around the top of the seating area and stairs in each corner giving access to a below corridor. While the London Ice House used their lower concourse, though, the Civic Auditorium largely does not except as the place where one goes to use the washrooms. As a result, traffic bottlenecked around the top of the building during intermissions, and the lines to use the washroom could get long.

Seats are all relatively new and views are excellent. The low ceiling mandates low glass, and there are a few seats behind the benches where the view is obstructed because of glass, but for the most part the views are great. There are blue seats in the ends and red on the sides. There is standing-room all around the top of the seating areas. There are two press boxes, both on opposite sides of the building on the red line. The low ceiling limits the scoreboard to a strange design that I have never seen anywhere else - it is several feet long but only about three feet high, as a standard scoreboard would get in the way of play. The ceiling also forces the team to place their championship banners above the seating area, as there is no room for them above the ice! The ceiling also forces adjustments from visiting teams, as it is impossible in Oshawa to dump a puck high in the air to clear a zone, as the puck will merely bounce off the ceiling. The ceiling is covered in pock-marks from years of abuse. One other small touch I noticed is that the plasic shielding around the boards is done in Generals' colours, with red board tops and blue guards on the bottom. When 99% of hockey arenas use yellow shielding, it's nice to see one team keeping the old Montreal Forum tradition alive.

Speaking of tradition, the Generals are of the OHL's most historic clubs, if not the most historic. The team and building do a great job of reminding visitors of the long heritage of junior hockey in Oshawa. There are pictures all over the walls of the arena, and it takes a whole intermission to see them all properly. There are pictures of the fire that destroyed the old Oshawa Arena in 1953, pictures of a young Bobby Orr lighting up the rink in the 1960's, and pictures of the events that have taken place over the years in Oshawa, including one notorious Rolling Stones concert in 1979. Yes, you read that right. Playing two concerts in the GTA was part of Keith Richards' plea bargain to escape a Canadian drug conviction, and so the band played one show at Maple Leaf Gardens and one at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium.

Surprisingly for an old and unrenovated arena, the sound-system is crystal-clear and the announcer is probably the league's best. He's an old-school hockey announcer with a nasal voice reminiscent of Paul Morris, and understands that his function is not to attempt to whip up enthusiasm but merely to properly call the game. Music is not too loud, and before every period the Generals play the old "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song, the version from the 1970's and 80's. It's a wonderful touch and pumps you up for the coming period.

Hockey arenas have a limited lifespan, and the Civic Auditorium reached the end of its useful life quietly. The building's construction in 1964 re-built junior hockey in the Motor City after the devastating Hambly Arena Fire in 1953, but time passed the arena by. By the time of its closure it was ready to be shut. The Auditorium was not been properly maintained over the years in the way that older-but-more-up-to-date arenas such as in Kitchener have been. As a result, the Civic Auditorium felt like it was beginning to fear the reaper in its final years, so to speak. Oshawa's rink was never one of the OHL's finest buildings, not even when new, but attending games there was fun nonetheless. The hockey history that has been made inside the Oshawa Aud is astounding, and the place had a fantastic atmosphere which has mainly transferred into the new GM Centre downtown. As for the Aud, it was finally demolished over the summer of 2010.
Inside the Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Oshawa Civic Auditorium

How To Get There

From the West: Exit Highway 401 at Thickson Road (Whitby). Travel north to Burns Street, then east to Thornton.

From the East: Exit Highway 401 at Park Road (Oshawa). Travel north to Gibb Street, then west to Thornton Road.

Parking is on-site and free in a massive lot behind the Auditorium.

What's it Used For Today?

The Civic Auditorium closed to the OHL on October 29, 2006, with a gala ceremony marking the end of an era in Oshawa's rich junior hockey history. The ice surface continued to be used by minor hockey and such until around Christmas time, after which the ice was removed. The Civic Auditorium was demolished over the summer of 2010; the city plans to build an indoor track and field facility on the site as well as constructing a new soccer/football field. Demolition photos can be found here and here.
The Site of the Oshawa Civic Auditorium
Oshawa Civic Auditorium

Feedback

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: October 31, 2010