The Top 20 Rinks of the OHL

Sammy Spirit

In the autumn of 2004 I began to realise that once I completed the Eastern Road Trip, I would be finished the league. Once all of the profiles were online there would be little else to do with this site - in some respects, it would be "completed". My mind began to think about what I should do to keep things interesting around here, as well as to help to chronicle the arenas I had visited in a different way. Finally, I have tried in all of the profile pages to at least keep some semblance of fairness about the ratings, giving good as well as bad and being as scrupulously fair as I possibly could, in an effort to encourage first-time travellers to go in to new buildings without preconceived notions. But I am human, I have favourite arenas to visit as well as those that I dislike, and I wanted to provide for the Guide some completely biased editorial based upon nothing but my own opinions. So I present: The Top 20 Rinks of the OHL.

The rating system that I will use is based upon Bob Wood's seminal 1985 book Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks, which, although it is about baseball parks, really kicked off the idea of the North American Sports Road Trip as well as a ratings system to rank parks visited. Wood uses an eight-pronged rating system, with the following categories:

Obviously not all of these categories will work in hockey. The "smell of the grass" is a real part of the ballpark experience, while every sheet of ice in hockey is more or less the same. In addition, I have neither the money nor the inclination to eat bad hot dogs in every arena in the OHL so "Food" is not a category that I will take into account. After some thought, I have decided to utilise the following categories, with explanations:

A Word About Scoring:
All arenas will be judged in all categories on a letter-grade system. Most buildings will receive any grade from A to D in all categories. The points will then be added up to provide us with the rankings - a D=65, C=75, B=85, and A=95. Finally, there will be small numbers of A+'s and D-'s awarded. I will not give more than three D-'s or A+'s in any one category, as these grades are meant to recognise the best of the best and the worst of the worst. An A+ is worth 100 points and a D- is worth 60. The grades can also be interpreted as follows:

A+ - Superior
A - Excellent
B - Good
C - Average
D - Poor
D- - Very Poor

A perfect score of A+ in all seven categories is worth 700 points. All grades are based upon a percentage system. There are three ties throughout the rankings. In those cases I have shown the numerical ties as existing, but I have broken the tie by simply stating which of the two buildings I like better. I should also state that I don't generally update the rankings when I hear about news of a new scoreboard or something; only when I see it myself. Some of these rankings may be out of date.

Update (November 2006): With two of the originally-ranked buildings now closed, I've decided to keep the old rankings of closed buildings and add one for the London Gardens as well. You can access those reviews through the report card only.

A final disclaimer: Once again, I wish to stress that these are all my own opinions. I have visited all 20 OHL arenas and this is what I believe about the buildings based upon my own experiences. Some arenas I haven't been to in a couple years, so things may have changed since my visit. Others may have improved or gotten worse. However, these grades are my own opinions, completely subjective, and based upon what I look for in an arena. If I give a high grade to a building you dislike, or a low grade to one you like, then that is not a problem. Keep travelling, and form your own opinions.

On to the Rankings!

Top 20 Report Card


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