October 6, 2013 - Oshawa, Ontario
Named for the General Motors plants which made Oshawa into a manufacturing hub, the OHL's Oshawa Generals have had their share of famous players suit up with the Generals crest on their jersey. There was Lindros, and more recently Tavares, oh, and a guy named Orr. The Generals tradition continues today at the General Motors Centre, which opened in 2006, and is a good example of the newer mid-sized arenas popping up across North America. Although parts of Oshawa are a bit rough, the area in downtown near the arena seems safe and well kept, and the arena's presence takes up an entire city block. The arena is actually a twin pad facility, with a smaller community rink located on the lower level. The exterior is a modern industrial brick, with a high arching metal roof. The focal point is the main entrance on the corner, which features a glass wall, and an architecturally interesting brick and glass tower. The plain, yet iconic, GM logo is present on multiple sides of the arena, and there is a small courtyard outside the main entrance along the sidewalk. The overall impression one gets of the arena is that it is simple, yet modern and clean. Just inside the main entrance is the box office area, where I secured a $20 ticket for this Sunday evening game against Guelph. There is also a team store on the lower level near the box office which is well stocked with Gens gear, and was very crowded before game time.
To access the arena itself you enter through a stairway that leads to the main concourse which runs all the way around the arena, above the main seating bowl. The wide concourse is complete with lots of concession stands, and has standing spots marked and numbered, complete with a drink shelf and a coat hanger. Some of the standing spots do have a bit of a blind spot due to some pillars. The navigation of the concourse gets a little tight when passing in front of the bar on the one side of the arena as the huge, 2 level restaurant and bar runs between the blue lines on one side, narrowing the path around the arena to a small aisle. The seating consists of 16 rows of maroon plastic seats, and the flat ceiling makes the arena actually feel a bit smaller than its 6100 capacity. The seats are modern, but the rake of the seats is not as steep we would like. An upper level of suites circles the ice, with the suites hanging over the concourse and the top of the main seating bowl in balcony fashion. General Motors Centre is a fine example of a modern arena. The center ice video board is nice, and does not look out of place or "too big" as some of the ones we have encountered do. Despite the arena being among the newest in the OHL, much effort was taken to preserve the hockey tradition of Oshawa and of the success of Generals teams of the past. An extremely well done Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame sits on the main concourse, just above the steps which lead up from the box office. One could spend quite a bit of time in the museum, and it has lots of old jerseys, trophies, and even an old push-cart style ice resurfacing machine. Seeing some artifacts of the careers of Bobby Orr and others make a stop at the GM Centre worthwhile. What the arena has done is built a modern, comfortable place to watch a hockey game, without forgetting about the history and tradition of the team and city which has brought us up to this point. In addition to the Hall of Fame, banners above the ice clearly remind fans of the tradition of the Generals, with banners paying tribute to Orr and Lindros among others, as well as the 4 Memorial Cup titles which the Gens have earned.
At a Generals game the fan experience is certainly "old meets new". The fans are loud, and very into the team. The sight lines are good, although the rake of the seating could be a bit steeper. Oshawa is a hockey town, and although the attendance was only a little over 3000 for this Sunday night game, the atmosphere was very good. The place got loud. The fans got into the action, and with the Generals disposing of Guelph 4-1 the crowd had a lot to cheer about. The promotions between periods and other giveaways are not over the top, but certainly ever present throughout the game. The mini-blimp also flies around between periods, and ads and sponsorship do abound during the game. We are not always crazy about this, preferring things to be more low-key, but with a modern arena comes modern practices. Still, watching OHL hockey in a building like this, with a team that has the tradition of the Generals is a remarkable experience. We can certainly imagine the decibel levels being elevated even further with a full crowd approaching 6000. This place must be nuts during the playoffs. Oshawa fans seem to like the rough stuff as well, with 2 fights during the game bringing the noise level up even further, (although one does not show in the box score). Oshawa is a blue collar, hardworking town, which expects the same of its team, and that is apparent. We like that. Although if given a choice, RTR will nearly always choose an older arena over a modern, cookie cutter one, we must says that they have done a great job in Oshawa, both in providing a comfortable and modern arena to hold the game, and with preserving the tradition of days gone by. The General Motors Centre is not merely a modern building to house the Generals games. It is now the home of the Generals tradition, which is so ingrained with the Oshawa community.
A box score of the game can be found Here
Other information about the Oshawa Generals can be found at: Generals Home
Other information about General Motors Centre can be found at: General Motors Centre Home
More photos of General Motors Centre can be found Here