Roaming The Rinks

One hockey fan's journey to the arenas of North America

Roaming The Rinks Blog


Posted by roamingtherinks on September 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Arena # 1 - William Allman Memorial Arena in Stratford, Ontario, home of the Stratford Cullitons

We started Roaming The Rinks to document our journey to experience hockey at as many arenas as possible.  The ultimate prize at the end of the journey is finding a place that showcases the near-perfect hockey fan experience.  Arena # 1 on the list proves that you don't need an NHL sized arena, or NHL caliber players on the ice, to have just that.  The town of Stratford, on the Avon River, (the one in England) is best known as the home of William Shakespeare, who is synonymous with classic literature.  We could care less about some old playwright with tights and pointy shoes.  To us the word "Stratford" brings to mind a different kind of classic - the William Allman Memorial Arena.  This barn sits a high slapshot's distance from its own Avon River, and is a perfect example of how hockey is meant to be experienced.  It is not simply an arena that is preserved from times past.  It is actually a restored monument to the game that is so intertwined with Canadian culture that the game and country can hardly be separated.  It's as if not much has changed here since the 1924 arena opening, yet the classic features look almost spotlessly new.  Not only is this building remarkable to look at, the community support for the Cullitons rivals that of any other small town team in Canada, making for a dynamic fan atmosphere.  You may have to roam off the beaten hockey path to wind up in Stratford, but it is worth the trip, and worth skipping the more "big time" hockey options in Southern Ontario.  Attend a game here.  Experience hockey in an incredible setting.  Have fun doing it! 

Check out the full review and photo gallery at:


Previously unveiled members of the FUN FIFTEEN ARENA COUNTDOWN:

Arena # 2 - Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, home of the Johnstown Chiefs

Arena # 3 - Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener, Ontario, home of the Kitchener Rangers

Arena # 4 - Arena Jacques Plante in Shawinigan, Quebec, home of the Shawinigan Cataractes

Arena # 5 - Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania, home of the Lebanon Valley College Flying Dutchmen

Arena # 6 - Frank Ritter Memorial Arena in Rochester, New York, home of the RIT Tigers

Arena # 7 - Herb Brooks Arena / 1980 Rink in Lake Placid, New York, home of the 2010 NCAA Division 3 Championship

Arena # 8 - Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines, Ontario, home of the Niagara IceDogs

Arena # 9 - Galt Arena Gardens in Cambridge, Ontario, home of the Cambridge Winter Hawks

Arena # 10 - Stade L.P. Gaucher in St.-Hyacinthe, Quebec, home of the St.-Hyacinthe Top Design

Arena # 11 - New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York, outdoor home of the Syracuse Crunch

Arena # 12 - Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the Fort Wayne Komets

Arena # 13 - John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario, home of the London Knights

Arena # 14 - First Arena in Elmira, New York, home of the Elmira Jackals

Arena # 15 - Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound, Ontario, home of the Owen Sound Attack

Stay tuned all summer as we unveil a new arena in the FUN FIFTEEN ARENA COUNTDOWN every Saturday. 

How it works-  Although we have seen lots of different venues we are not bold enough to say that this list is a list of "the best hockey arenas in North America" simply because, despite seeing so many different arenas (over 100),  we have still experienced hockey at  small fraction of the places available to view big-time hockey.  Since the rankings all come from me you can be assured that the rankings will be consistent.  

What we consider when making the list-  There are a ton of factors to consider when ranking arenas.  Architecture,  fan experience, crowd support, the tradition of the particular hockey market in question, and most importantly atmosphere all come into play.  We don't attend games to check out the jumbotron, have a $5 hotdog, or get a bobblehead giveaway.  We attend games because we want to experience hockey in all of the ways it is presented.  What's most important when considering if an arena was a great one or not?  Well, if the place ties in most or all of the above listed attributes and you can say you had fun then it will surely be near the top.  We want fans to check out the reviews of these arenas and hopefully make plans to experience some of these places yourselves.  The most important factor is that intangible feeling that you get when you leave a great arena after the game and can say "that is what hockey is all about".  The fifteen arenas on this list will certainly have that X factor.          

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