Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre

Home of the Sarnia Sting

My experience in Sarnia turned out to be by far the most frustrating so far.

Sarnia is a very industrial city. The city’s outskirts are full of large chemical plants which make for some fowl smells in certain areas. However, the good news is that the large quantity of industries makes Sarnia a great place for railfanning which is one of my other hobbies.

Sarnia has an interesting, albeit small downtown core. The St. Clair River, along with park land and walking trails are just steps away.

The SSEC is located inside the sprawling campus of Lambton college. This makes the arena very difficult to find if you don’t know exactly where it is. I had the address entered into my GPS and I passed the entrance twice. The arena complex is located deep within the campus, far away from the street. I didn’t see any signs at all anywhere to assist out-of-towners in finding it.

Our experience at the SSEC started out in the arena’s restaurant. Since we were going to the restaurant, the staff let us into the arena before gates opened, around 6pm. Game time was 7:30. “Great,” I thought, “this should give us plenty of time eat before the game starts.” It took at least 20 minutes before the waiter took our order. We waited an entire hour and we still hadn’t even gotten our appetizer. Finally, at 7:25, we decided that there would be no way we could eat, pay for our meal and not miss the start of the game. So, we ended up just informing the staff that we’d given up and were leaving.

Since we did not get our dinner at the restaurant, we were still hungry. We tried to get some pizza from one of the two concessions in the concourse. Both concessions have a large neon Pizza Pizza sign. Guess what? The concession we had tried to go to was out of pizza! We were instructed to go to the other concession. We get to the other concession and they were out of pizza as well! We ended up getting a couple burgers and returned to our seat.

I’ve made it a point to get a program, and a puck from each arena that we visit. Normally we purchase these before the game but since we wasted almost an hour and a half in the restaurant, we hadn’t done this yet. So, during the first intermission, we tried to get a program but guess what? The only person in the entire arena who sells programs had run out! We stopped by the only souvenir stand in the concourse (which I should add was just a table with a guy sitting behind it with a few items) and they were out of Sarnia Sting pucks! By this time we were batting 1.000.

By the second intermission, I realized that the burger didn’t fill me up. So, I figured I’d give the concessions another try. I could see that this time they had pizza, but the lineup was about 30 people long. We decide to brave the lineup. When we got to the front, low and behold, they were out of pizza again! Every other arena (or buffet) that I’ve ever been to always has a few pizzas in the oven cooking while the ones at the front are being served. Once the pizza at the front runs out, they always have another one ready to go. For some reason, Sarnia hasn’t embraced this idea. Getting pizza in Sarnia is like winning the lottery. You have to just get in line and if you are lucky, they just might have some available when you get to the front.

We decided to just get nachos. Their idea of serving nachos is giving us a Styrofoam tray with some tortilla chips and a warmed bag of cheese sauce. We had to tear open the package of cheese and put it on the nachos ourself. Not having scissors, trying to do this without making a mess proved to be difficult. Never in all my life have come across a stadium or an arena that makes you put your own cheese on your nachos.

You may have noticed that I’ve said very little about the arena itself. The reason is that every time I try to think about my experiences in Sarnia, all I can think of is how frustrating it was. The seating area itself is roomy and comfortable. The atmosphere was pretty good and all of the fans were friendly. There seemed to be a pretty good turnout for the game. The arena itself really isn’t that bad. It seems like it would be a great place to watch a game, if only things weren’t so poorly run!

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9 Comments

  1. Posted March 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Well Rob, I do have to agree with some of the things you have talked about with the arena and food. But for me the topper was when I was at the same game as you, we were yelled at, by RBC Centre Employee for Being Windsor Spitfire Fans, and cheering. We got yelled at for slamming our hands on to the Glass as we got the Winning goal, but hey that is what happens when you enjoy your own team. I found the drive up for me great (as I normally never take Highway 40, but that day i did as it was crappy weather), as I take Kimball Side Rd from Wallaceburg, and then the back roads from Tilbury to highway 40, about 1/2 between Chatham & Wallaceburg. The food part was annoying, as my Fiance Crystal & my friend & his wife waited almost 20 minutes for Poutine & Burger (burger was done first, they were waiting 20 minutes for Gravy for the fries) and they missed a bunch of the game. But like for me, I wanted a slice of Pizza, and went up to line in the beginning of the First and they didn’t have any, so I thought, why don’t I go midway in the Period (as its open view from the stands down to Ice Level), and go get a Slice then. I had no problem doing that at all. But for me the Icing on the cake, was the day of the Game, that I could get Ice Level Seats online next to the Sting Penalty Box. This had to be the best seats I have ever had at a Hockey game, and I got them again, for the last game of the Season when Windsor took on Sarnia. I got lost going into Sarnia originally, (and it was a stupid move on my part, as I had known where the college was because I had driven pass it a few times getting to the 402 from the train yard) but once I got close to the arena, they had a couple signs on the main road for ‘To RBC Centre’ and Lambton College, which it shares with. I also do agree lots of Leg room and seats were comfortable for that arena, and I enjoyed everything else…

  2. Ryan
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    That wasn’t actually Sarnia you were going through in the first picture, that was Chemical Valley in Corunna.

  3. Ryan
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Sorry you had a frustrating time in Sarnia. It has improved with a Sting Store, rather than just a little table with some items. The restuarant has never been very popular among Sarnia Sting fans, and there is actually 3 concessions in the arena. I’m sure when/if you return your experience will be much better.

  4. Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for posting, Ryan. I’ll try to make it back to Sarnia within the next couple years to see how things have improved. I thought that the arena definitely had a lot of potential and could be great if ran properly.

  5. Brian
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Not that it matters much, but Ryan is wrong. The first picture WAS taken in Sarnia. It was taken from the overpass facing south towards the Suncor plant. Sarnia city limits end at Lasalle road, which is about another 3 kms up the road.

  6. chris carlson
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    they have more stands that give out food at the arena or try Crabby Joe’s, Swiss Chalet, Burger King, Harvey’s, East Side Mario’s Canton Restaurant or Norm’s Pub and Grill

  7. AR
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Actually, that IS Sarnia that you were going threw (the industrial pic), you have to pass the native lands on the side of the river 1st to get to Corunna. Just saying. SSEC is hard to get food when it’s packed, I usually eat before and after the game to avoid this. I see you were visiting in the winter, Sarnia has BEAUTIFUL beaches, definitely come back in the summer, have fries under the bridge, play at the casino, rock at one of the many concerts and music festivals. Hope your next experience is great.
    With love.

  8. CW
    Posted July 8, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    AR is right. Sarnia has great beaches, festivals, awesome waterfront and much much more to offer.

  9. chris carlson
    Posted August 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    nice arena good prices this is a must see arena Single Game Walk UpAdult (age 19 – 59) $18.00
    Senior (age 60+) $14.50 Students (age 13+) with student card $13.00 Child (4-12) $8.50
    Family day children (age 4-12) $5.00 well worth the visit

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