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!