Every time the guide is updated, details will appear on this page.
January 24, 2017: I recently went to my first Q game in nine years in Blainville-Boisbriand, so check the Q site for recent updates. The one Ontario update is I finally got a decent outside shot of the Cornwall Civic Complex. Also I've joined Twitter.
October 16, 2016: It may have taken me four years, but I finally made it to North Bay. I'm absolutely thrilled to say I've once again been to all 20 OHL arenas, and now 31 in total past and present.
February 16, 2016: All the way back in late December Mrs OHLAG and I went to a game in Flint, and that page is updated with a new picture and a writeup. Back to 19/20 again...
September 27, 2015: In honour of tonight's lunar eclipse I went and did an update... we went to the first Hamilton Bulldogs OHL game last night and I've updated the guide with a review. I've also made a page for the Flint Firebirds, which is pretty bare-bones for now, but I will definitely be making the trip there this winter. I also made a page (only eleven months late!) for the First Niagara Center, where the Otters and IceDogs played a regular season game last season. And if for some reason you want to know what I sound like, check out the episodes of the OHL Fanboys podcast where I've done a guest spot.
January 1, 2015: The Niagara IceDogs opened a new arena and I went there and I wrote you a thing about it. If anyone's interested, I still haven't been to North Bay, mostly because of a disinclination to go up there to see the Knights on a Thursday night in January. Fingers crossed that the league will schedule the Knights on a weekend in October in 2015-16...
December 24, 2013: For Christmas I got you an update to a mostly horribly outdated web 1.0 style site. Pages for the newly-renovated arenas in North Bay and Erie are updated, as is the former Brampton page. I've also currently got the reviews on StadiumJourney for the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, with the Buffalo Sabres likely to be posted early in the new year. Merry Christmas everyone!
June 1, 2013: I have my first four web-based submissions to Stadium Journey - Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Prudential Center and the new Yankee Stadium. Check out all my reviews at my author page. I'll also be reviewing the North Bay Memorial Gardens for this site next year, and potentially will be seeing my first WHL games in 2013-14.
September 30, 2012: Somehow this is now the ninth season of my running this website. The Rangers and Otters pages are updated with words about their arena renovations, the 67's switch to Scotiabank Place for two seasons has been mentioned, and a few other out of date things have been corrected.
Remember that time I was going to start a blog? Well, a better idea has presented itself - I've signed up as a correspondent for stadiumjourney.com. My first piece for them, about how Halifax is coping with the NHL lockout, will appear in the October print magazine. Check out the magazine page for information. I hope to do writeups for them in the future when I travel, and the incentive of a larger platform means updates should hopefully be more frequent than around here over the past few years.
And for now, anyway, I'm going to start updating Picture of the Week again, with improved aspect ratio for 2012! I've built up enough of a backlog of shots from my travels over the past year of not updating it that I may as well. No promises of a regular schedule if I'm not home or near a computer on a Sunday, but if I'm at home and at leisure there should be a picture more often than not.
April 15, 2012: I finally replaced the last old scanned film print by returning to the Air Canada Centre, a mere nine years after my last visit. Yep, the Leafs lost again. I also saw a Sens game at Scotiabank Place recently and the old lens flared outside shot from 2005 has been replaced with a better one.
February 9, 2012: Big news out of Ottawa, as the 67's have announced they will be moving temporarily to Scotiabank Place for two seasons while Landsdowne Park is being renovated.
September 4, 2011: I'm currently on crutches thanks to impaling my heel on a bed frame and needing seven stitches to close the wound. Apparently, all it takes to finally update the site for the first time in months is being bored and laid up with a foot injury!
There are lots of updates to go around both on this and the Q site. Paul Buxton sent in a wonderful shot of the interior of the Portland Coliseum back in, oh gosh, February, and I never got around to posting it.
It's difficult to explain why I have let the site go like I have - homeownership and a permanent job are time-suckers, but in reality what I have realized is that I have always thrived on the new and novel, and the OHL no longer is for me. It's hard to imagine, but back in 2002 when I started travelling to OHL games, there were no photographs of OHL buildings on the internet, and in some cases, it was hard to find directions or even the name of the rink on the team's website. (For years, I used to have to email one team that will not be named asking for their ticket prices, since they didn't see fit to put them on their website!) A central repository for ticket prices, directions, and photography as well as arena reviews was, in my humble opinion, a useful tool for the league's travelling fans. Things have changed somewhat in the past few years, though. Now, photography is all over the internet, sports venue sites have proliferated, and between GPS directions and all OHL teams now having strong web presences, I feel as though a little of this site's uniqueness and usefulness have disappeared. This is not a bad thing, either.
What's left are my photos and my writeups. Unfortunately, though, I have nothing new or exciting to say about the Sleeman Centre, and moreover, for me, the OHL is no longer a new thing. I've been everywhere, man. There aren't any more former arenas to discover in dusty newspaper archives; no more point of taking another road trip to Saginaw or Sarnia to see something that never changes, apart from the pleasures of watching a hockey game. Since completing the league for the first time in 2005, new rinks have opened in Windsor, Oshawa, Kingston and the Sault, and I've enjoyed visiting each one, as well as expanding my horizons into Quebec. But maintenance is less fun than adventure, and in the past few years, new horizons for me has meant the NHL and the NCAA and the AHL, not to mention the MLB and MLS as much as anywhere else.
So after devoting much thought to my comprehensive website slowly devolving into a blog, I have made it official while finally casting off the shackles of remaining in the CHL. I intend to use it to chronicle my travels to hockey, baseball and soccer games not related to the CHL. The URL is http://ohlarenaguide.wordpress.com/ and I hope you will visit regularly. I do promise to still update this site as it requires, and with ticket prices now deleted, a fair bit of the regular maintenance that I hated doing should disappear. I am now 29, engaged to be married, a homeowner and holder of a good middle-class job. I have been at this since I was a poor and single university student at age 20, still living with my parents. Much has changed in my life, but I do not want to throw out a decade's work, and I'm hopeful that having a new outlet will rekindle the passion I once had for travelling over the next horizon, camera and notebook in hand, heading for the talisman sign of floodlights or arched roof and smell of fresh-cut grass or resurfaced ice.
One last note - After sputtering out gradually over the past year, Picture of the Week officially will be concluded. The idea, at least going forward, is that the pictures I've still kept taking of my adventures will be blogged about rather than just posted with a short caption.
December 6, 2010: Better late than never, I've completely wiped out the old Erie writeup and started over following my visit in November. A new picture showing the new scoreboard is also up. The rankings will be adjusted soon-ish.
November 27, 2010: A new entrant appears in the Hall of Fame.
October 31, 2010: After nearly a decade of plans falling through, I finally made it to yesterday's Sens-Bruins game at Scotiabank Place and crossed seeing a game there off the bucket list. SBP was my twelfth NHL arena and I couldn't be happier to have finally been. The page is updated accordingly. Also, in looking through pictures from the summer, I was reminded that I stopped in last May at the site of the old Guelph Memorial Gardens to shoot the now-finished municipal office building occupying the site. So that's done as well. And finally, on the way home today, I checked out the site of the Oshawa Civic Auditorium.
October 3, 2010: We're baaaaaaaaaaack!
Welcome to season eight of the OHL Arena & Travel Guide. It's been a whirlwind summer getting a new house in order, and it's quite hard to believe that hockey's returned so soon. One's priorities shift as one ages, obviously, and I must admit that I am probably less excited about the new OHL season than any in memory. This is not really a failing on the CHL's part, but more a product of a lack of a sense of discovery on my part. I thrive on the new, and returning to Guelph for the umpteenth time is not really something that excites me any more.
So what will be new this coming season? My travel schedule for 2011-12 will include my first trip to Erie since 2004 with a new writeup and re-ranking, as well as journeys to watch the NHL in Buffalo and Ottawa and the NCAA in Bowling Green, Ohio. Visits to Niagara and Belleville are also in the cards.
In spite of myself, I'm quite happy to be relaunching this website for the upcoming season. New updates from the summer include: the Oshawa Civic Auditorium was, unfortunately but unsurprisingly, finally demolished. Photos can be found on the page. The old Billings MetraPark Arena, former home of the WHL's Bighorns, was nearly destroyed by a June tornado. Raw footage can be found on YouTube, and fortunately the city is rebuilding the arena rather than demolishing it the rest of the way. Speaking of former WHL arenas, there are two new pictures up thanks to Vince Kreiser; of the Cranbrook Memorial Centre and of Queen's Park Arena. My friend Steve Gardiner went to the Memorial Cup this past May in Brandon and took pictures of Westman Place. And finally, I have a few QMJHL updates that should go live within the next few days.
In spite of my junior hockey ennui, maintaining this website is still fun for me, and I'm going to keep it going for as long as I keep enjoying it. Have a great season, hockey fans.
September 26, 2010: OHL season kicked off again this weekend, and it's high time that I put together all of the updates from the summer and got this show on the road again. I aim to resume regular updates next weekend, and there's a new POTW up for now.
May 2, 2010: Many of you who have been following this site for a long time have probably noticed that the updates have become much more infrequent in the past few years. It's been interesting for me personally to have run this site through a long period of change in my life, starting as a university student, moving to Newfoundland for grad school, returning to a few years of dead-end jobs and ultimately establishing myself in a career. Life has taken another positive turn for me of late - I have bought a house with my long-time lady friend and shall be moving within the month.
I have never really been one to reflect on something that I've only ever done as a hobby when the mood strikes, but it hit me not too long ago that I've been at this for seven years. Seven years! I've been recognized in OHL buildings by fans (I have fans?), corresponded with members of the media, team employees, and former players, and in a lot of ways been granted an "in" into the league in a way that I never expected by being just some dude with a website. This site and the Q site average 20,000 unique hits a month between them during the regular season - numbers that absolutely stagger me - and I have never once taken any of that for granted. I love the fact that something I decided to start to do on a whim one day in late 2002 while procrastinating from writing a history term paper has connected with so many other people, and I have made many good friends by doing this.
And on that happy note, I am taking a break.
This past year has been a remarkably busy one for me, and I managed to make it to only six OHL games all season long - two in London, two in Windsor, and one in each of Peterborough and Kingston. Generally speaking, the CHL bug bites me hard as the leaves change colour every year; this year it never happened for me, and the labour of love of doing this site became, in many ways, a labour. With some major life changes in store over this coming summer, I do not want to grow to feel "obligated" to maintain this site during a period in life when I will likely not have the time or energy to do it properly. I want to still love doing it, for free, the way I always have, coding every letter of HTML, taking nearly every photo, and writing nearly every word of text. I do not want to get burned out.
I still may update once or twice over the summer if I find interesting things to share, and I will still check email, but otherwise this is it from me until September. This is not the end. I'll be back, with batteries recharged, as the days grow shorter and the warm weather fades into another hockey season. I promise. I love everything about doing this website. It's just that everyone needs a holiday every seven years or so.
See you in September. See you at the rink.
March 14, 2010: My friend Adam Bruckschwaiger joins the Hall of Fame.
March 6, 2010: In the years since 2006 as my focus has shifted from the OHL to junior hockey in general, the Top 20 Rankings on this site have become more and more out of date. I've pretty much ignored them for the past four years as I've concentrated on other projects, but if traffic numbers are anything to go by, they're still remarkably popular. And so, as I'm now finally able to say once again that I've been to all twenty current buildings in the OHL, I've spent the past few weeks overhauling the entire thing.
So what's new? A lot of profiles have been re-written to better reflect the current situation, but the biggest change has been that the scoreboard category has been completely re-evaluated. In 2005, a video board was pretty much an automatic "A"; now, as they become more and more common across the CHL, it takes actually knowing how to use it to get a decent grade (and HD doesn't hurt either).
Three rankings are quite likely out of date - I have not been to Erie, Barrie or Sault Ste. Marie since they installed their video boards. I will re-evaluate on my next visits to those places, and in the meantime they have been kept with the same ranks as before. This is almost cetainly unfair (to Erie in particular), but with no better plan, it will have to do for now.
Enjoy the new rankings.
February 23, 2010: For the fifth time since 2005, I can once again say that I've been to all 20 current arenas in the OHL, following my weekend trip to the K-Rock Centre in Kingston. The Frontenacs page has been updated with a new writeup and photo. I also saw the Knights take on the Petes this past weekend, and the Peterborough page is also slightly updated. Finally, I've revamped the Top 20 Rankings for the first time since 2007 - while I can't pretend they're 100% current, they're more accurate than they were. They should be rolled out later this week, so check back for another update.
January 8, 2010: One of the truly nice things about running a website like this is that every once in a while, some nice, random stranger will send you something absolutely amazing. With that thought in mind, thank you, Ian Kelso for sending me this beautiful exterior photo of the Hamilton Forum.
November 8, 2009: A new entrant to the Hall of Fame. Also, Cobo Arena has been given a short stay of execution and will remain open into the new year, although demolition is still imminent next year.
October 11, 2009: Season seven of the OHL Arena & Travel Guide kicks off fashionably late today. Seven years ago I was a university student with acres of free time and disposable income. Now I'm older, with a proper job to consume my time and rent and car payments to be made. Growing older happens to us all, but those of you who are long-term readers of the site probably have noticed just how sporadic the updates have become in comparison to what they used to be. I also don't have season tickets anymore, and having the free time to attend 71 CHL games (as I did in 2004-05) looks unlikely to ever happen again. I still love junior hockey and still want to keep updating the site, but travelling every weekend as I once did is probably not going to happen for the foreseeable future.
So then what's on tap for 2009-10? I have tickets to see the Red Wings in November, and am 100% confirmed that I will be going to one of the two games Kingston plays over the Christmas holidays, as my workplace shuts down between Christmas and New Year's and I will therefore be on holiday. I'm also planning to see a Michigan State game in Lansing, and beyond that, we'll have to see.
Updated today: The Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre has finally achieved corporate sponsorship and is now the RBC Centre. Links are checked and odd pages around the site are updated with little bits of out of date information now gone. Ticket prices are updated for 2009-10 - the recession appears to have landed this year, with the average ticket price now $15.54 in comparison to last year's $15.24, and in fact one team (the Wolves) has lowered prices across the board for this season. This year's cheapest tickets are once again in Plymouth, while the most expensive tickets once again belong to the Rangers, who charge $18.50 for an adult admission. In addition, I have new pictures on the WHL pages for Kelowna, Regina, and the old Regina Exhibition Stadium.
Oh, and I've created a fan page on Facebook for the site. The link's on the index page.