Home of the Niagara Ice Dogs
The Niagara Ice Dogs play out of the Gatorade Garden City Complex in St. Catharines, Ontario. Known as the garden city, St. Catharines is located on the QEW between Toronto and Buffalo. Unfortunately, I was unable to see any of these gardens that this city is known for as my visit was in January.
Downtown St. Catharines has a lot of interesting architecture but it is definitely not immune to urban decay. At the time of my visit, there quite a few vacant store fronts, and even a couple broken windows. However, there has been some revitalization over the last few years and things are showing signs of improvement.
The city of St. Catharines has many beautiful churches in and around the downtown area. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I do have an appreciation for classic architecture from a time when buildings were a work of art.
The Gatorade Garden City Complex is located on the outer fringes of downtown. I arrived at the arena about 2 hours before game time and finding a spot to park turned out to be a very frustrating experience. I eventually found a spot on a residential street in the neighborhood. If you plan on attending a game here, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to find parking.
The main entrance of the arena leads to a large lobby containing a stair case. Climbing the stairs leads you to a small concourse with a team store, concessions, beer vendors, 50/50 sellers and other ways to spend some money. The only washrooms in the facility that I could find were located off of this small concourse area. This “concourse” serves as more of a lobby to the walkways in the main bowl.
Getting around the arena is extremely difficult due to the narrow walkways. To make things even more difficult, there is also assigned standing room in these narrow walkways.
All of the seats are two man wooden benches. Surprisingly, these seats are wide enough to comfortably seat two medium sized adults. The big problem is leg room. In some rows, there is plenty of leg room and in others, there is almost none. The seating in the front row in particular is extremely close to the boards resulting in a very uncomfortable experience for anybody taller than 5’3″.
Despite all of my negative comments, I had a great time at this arena. The atmosphere is outstanding and the building has a lot of character. Seeing an arena like this in use at a high level of play is getting to be extremely rare. The sight lines are great, and the fans are loud. With a sub-3000 seating capacity, this arena is often packed. If you don’t mind not having the amenities that are common in most new arenas, you will definitely enjoy a visit to see the Ice Dogs. My only advice is to get there early to find a parking spot.