Home of the Kitchener Rangers
Kitchener is a medium sized city and a part of the Waterloo Regional Municipality. The metropolitan area has a population of just under half a million people.
The old seems to meet the new in downtown Kitchener. There are a lot of classic blocks, mixed in with modern, generic, glass office buildings. There are many shops and very few vacant store fronts. There seemed to be plenty of free parking.
The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium is not downtown but it’s about a 5 minute drive away. The arena sits on a large property which includes Jack Couch Stadium (home of the Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League), Centennial Stadium (a Soccer/Football/Track And Field facility), a skate park, and acres of parking lots. The Aud itself has a beautiful classic facade. Unfortunately, this entrance is not used too much anymore.
Most spectators instead enter through this entrance which I believe was added during one of the many renovations that the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium has seen over the years.
This large lobby serves the entrance to the main spectator arena as well as two community rinks. When we attended, both community rinks had their ice and boards removed and were being used for a large scrap-booking convention. The entire complex seems very well used.
The concourse is nice and wide and seems to handle the large crowds nicely. The Rangers’ history is on display throughout the concourse. There are old photographs, posters and news clippings everywhere. All of the support joists holding up the bowl structure above are decorated with the names of former players and years of service.
The Kitchener Rangers have the largest team store that I’ve come across so far in the OHL. In the context of Junior Hockey, it’s huge and sells just about any kind of memorabilia you can imagine. It may even be bigger than some older NHL team stores.
The arena itself is beautiful. It’s always a packed house with an extremely loud and rowdy atmosphere. One thing about the people of Kitchener, they love their Rangers. The Rangers are easily one of the best supported teams in the OHL. I attended a game in the 2010 Western Conference Semi-Finals and it was deafening whenever Kitchener scored a goal. I’ve often been told that Erie’s fans are the loudest, but I have to disagree. I’d have to say that Kitchener is even louder than Erie.
The centre ice score clock contains an LCD jumbotron and is put to great use, showing lots of replays and the game itself. Before the game and between periods there is a very well produced show (I believe it is called RangerVision). Most jumbotron pregame shows that I’ve seen in the OHL are used as an opportunity to regurgitate advertisements and the night’s promotions. Kitchener’s pregame show is completely different. It summarizes Kitchener’s previous game, showing highlights and even shows the night’s NHL scores and highlights. It is very well put together and other OHL teams could learn a lot from it.
Additionally, Kitchener has some of the best standing room that I’ve seen in any venue at any level of play. The seating bowl itself starts a ways back from the rink. This is presumably to accommodate an IIHF sized ice pad. The extra space contains one row of temporary seats which goes around the perimeter of the rink. In between this row and the seating bowl is the standing room. In other words, the standing room is essentially at ice level.
I have heard rumblings over the past few years that a new arena is in the future for the Rangers. Although no announcement has been made, the Rangers have seemingly outgrown their 6900 seat arena. The Aud is a must see for any OHL fan and I advise you all to check it out before it’s too late.