Wolves

Sudbury Wolves

Arena Name: Sudbury Community Arena
Capacity: 5,100 (4,600 seated)
Built: 1951
Address: 240 Elgin St., Sudbury, ON, P3E 3N7
Telephone No: (705) 675-3941
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1972-73
OHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Blue, Grey, & White
Official Web Site: SudburyWolves.com
Former Arena: Walden Community Centre

OHL

 Sudbury Arena

Sudbury Arena

 What's the Arena Like?

First Visit: February 1, 2004
CHL Arena: 16
OHL Arena: 16

Even if you've never been to Sudbury, you've surely heard the stories. That it's a pair of mines with a city attached. That the place's landscape looks so lunar that NASA sent astronauts there to train in the 1970's. That it forever would be a place known for Stompin' Tom Connors's paean about bingo halls and miners getting drunk. For myself, the only thing I knew about the city growing up was that my Dad was transferred up there one winter in the early 1970's and lasted three weeks before giving up, quitting his job and moving home again. I myself passed through Sudbury on the train in 2002 and 2003 and saw the denuded moonscape, but in true Sudbury fashion, the train goes near town but not actually to it. So, making the trip for the first time in February 2004, I thought I knew what to expect from the city and the arena. But what I found surprised me. There's no getting around it - Sudbury isn't Paris. But the stories are mostly exaggerated, and Sudbury Arena is easily the best and last unrenovated old arena in the OHL, with Art Deco touches everywhere and some of the league's best fans. The crowd noise and the old-school feelings alone makes Sudbury well worth the long trip.

Sudbury Community Arena is located in downtown Sudbury, across the street from the VIA train station. From a distance it has that unmistakable "hockey arena" profile, with a high, triangular roof. The building is constructed of brown brick and still has a little bit of leftover Art Deco artifice about it. The exterior of the Sudbury Arena is a candidate for one of my favourites in the OHL. Everything from the lettering to the brickwork is beautiful in its own way - the second most beautiful thing in Sudbury after the Big Nickel.

Sudbury Arena also has one of the best main entrances in the OHL. It has large windows over the doors and a plaque at the front explaining that the building was "constructed to the greater glory of mankind" or something similarly grandiose. It makes you smile, anyway. Once entering the main part of the building you're in a tasteful lobby painted in dark green and tan. Again, it's a fantastic addition to the building and the arena lobby is one of the best parts of the rink. You walk up the stairs through the lobby and you enter into the main arena.

The first sight of the inside of Sudbury Arena is impressive. Everything in the building is painted Wolves' blue, and it has the feeling of a grand old hockey palace, bigger than most of its day. The seats are a tasteful dark blue and all the walls are a sky blue colour. The ceiling is very high and made of wood on steel trusses. The score clock was old and functional as of my last visit, but not one of the league's best. I'm certain they now have a video board like everywhere else. There are banners hanging honouring the Wolves' retired numbers as well as the Sudbury Wolves of 1932, the last time a Sudbury team won the Memorial Cup.

When I was last in Sudbury I got to hear the old arena announcer, Berk Keaney Sr., who was one of the last of the old-school gentlemen in the Paul Morris mould calling hockey games. Keaney retired in 2011 and died in 2012 at the age of 90, but it was an absolute pleasure getting to experience him calling a game over the PA. The rest of the building continues in the same old-timey vein. The concourse underneath the seats is narrow and crowded, and the Zamboni actually dumps its snow payload in the middle of the back hallway of the building. Catwalks and corridors are everywhere - the rink's layout is by far the OHL's most intricate and unusual, but not in a bad way. It's still easy to get around the arena, but it's the sort of place that you could spend an hour exploring and still not see all of. There is a team store which is among the league's smallest, just barely wide enough to fit a few people in, and with the ceiling so low that you could bump your head if you're not careful. The Wolves have the same gear on sale as everyone else, although theirs is much cooler, because in my opinion they have one of the best logos and uniforms in the OHL. Washrooms are pretty good considering their age.

The seats are all comfortable and there really aren't many bad ones. Don't be tricked into buying standing room, though - there are still fat iron support columns holding up the roof, and if you're in standing room you're almost guaranteed to be looking out from behind a pillar. Team benches are located partially in the attacking zone and the glass is low, so it must be hard to clear the puck along the glass in Sudbury.

The atmosphere in Sudbury is pretty good overall, and the building gets pretty loud like most old buildings. I have been to two games there; both were on a Sunday afternoon but there weren't a huge number of kids around, and the hecklers were out in full voice. Security is mostly non-existent though, and I've heard that for some rivalry games, the lack of security can make the Arena a difficult place to visit. Plan accordingly if you're a Hounds fan.

The best moment of a Wolves game happens when the Wolves score. An actual stuffed white wolf - not a replica but a real one from the taxidermist's shop - is suspended from the ceiling on a cable. When the Wolves score, the Wolf is ran along the cable over the ice! A flying, stuffed wolf soaring over the ice can't help but make you smile. It's the strangest sight I've seen on my travels so far, and it definitely fits the building and the team and the city perfectly.

Overall, the Sudbury Arena is a good building but a worn-out one. It was built the same year as the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, but the Aud has been renovated over and over again and sparkles, while the Sudbury Arena looks tired in places. I'd much prefer to see the Arena renovated rather than replaced, though. With some spit and polish and a few coats of paint, the Sudbury Arena would be one of the best old-school buildings in the OHL. As it is now, it's an enjoyable place to watch a hockey game, but it could be a lot better with some love and affection sent its way. Unfortunately, the city is looking at knocking down the Arena instead of renovating, so plan to go soon if you'd like to see it. If you've lived in Canada for any length of time, you'll have heard the stories about Sudbury. Don't believe them. It's a worthwhile trip, between the beautiful ancient madhouse of an arena, passionate fans and northern hospitality.

 Inside Sudbury Arena

Sudbury Arena Interior

 Future Developments
Sudbury Arena is now not only the oldest arena in the OHL, but also one of the least up-to-date, and while it is undescribably cool to go to a game there, it should come as no surprise that the city would like to replace it. The new arena has been approved in principle by the council but is still being held up by final planning approval from the province. As of the fall of 2021 there are still no shovels in the ground, but the plans are still on the books. Once the new arena out on the Kingsway is open, the plan is to demolish Sudbury Arena and replace it with a convention centre and hotel.

 Franchise History
The Sudbury Wolves' history dates back to the early 1950's, when the Barrie Flyers were the powerhouse of junior hockey. The Flyers played in Barrie until the 1962-63 season, when they were transferred to Niagara Falls to become the new Niagara Falls Flyers (not to be confused with a second team, also called the Niagara Falls Flyers, who are today's Saginaw Spirit). The first Flyers played in Niagara until 1971-72. The following year, the former NOJHL was collapsing and the two strongest teams in Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury joined the OHL, with the Wolves technically being a combination franchise move and merger with the existing NOJHL Wolves.

 Retired Numbers
6 Randy Carlyle
8 Rod Schutt
10 Ron Duguay
15 Dale Hunter
17 Mike Foligno

 A Sunday at Sudbury Arena

Sudbury Arena

 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 10, 2021