Cent


North Bay Centennials

Arena Name: North Bay Memorial Gardens
Capacity: 4,025
Built: 1955
Last Game: 2002
Address: 100 Chippewa Street West, North Bay, Ontario, P1B 6G2
Ice Surface Size: 190' X 85'
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OHL
North Bay Memorial Gardens
North Bay Memorial Gardens
What was the Arena Like?
The North Bay Memorial Gardens is located on a quiet residential street just outside downtown North Bay, and is minutes away from Highway 11/17. It's in the middle of a community sportsplex which also has several baseball diamonds and soccer fields. The Gardens itself is a big building, built with gold bricks and gold aluminum siding, and a green tile front entrace. The front entrance is really quite nice, with a retro 1950's feel to it. The last time I visited in 2007, the building was undergoing a renovaton project, which I would imagine will make the place viable for a long time to come.

Once inside the Memorial Gardens you find you're in a long, wide hallway with memorabilia everywhere. North Bay's entire sporting history seems to be on the walls of the Memorial Gardens, with pictures not only of the old Centennials teams but also of teams dating back to the 20's, and pictures of every former Centennial or North Bay resident who played in the NHL.

Once inside the arena bowl you notice that the North Bay Memorial Gardens is unlike most other OHL rinks you've seen. It's built almost like a college football stadium, with two huge grandstands running the entire length of the ice along the sides, but absolutely nothing in the ends. Erie and Belleville have similar designs, but they both have limited end seating, while North Bay has none at all. The ice is also set a long way back from the grandstands, and it looks as though the building could hold an Olympic-sized pad if it had to. In the one end there is a combination bar and Sports Hall of Fame, a scoreboard, and a portrait of H.M. the Queen, which is always a nice touch. In the other end is the Cents' championship banners and a huge pink curtain. I tried to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, but in the end my curiosity got the better of me. It turns out the curtain hides the Zamboni garage and storage areas. It's a strange, strange sight though - especially when you consider that you could very easily erect temporary bleachers in the end and have more seating.

The press box is easily one of the coolest I've ever seen - it is high up in the rafters, and hangs over the ice. You often hear that something "hangs over the ice" when someone is trying to say that you feel like it, but in North Bay, the press box is literally directly above the ice surface on the one side of the rink. Getting up there requires navigating a scary-looking catwalk across half the length of the building.

Seats are all old, wooden originals from the 1950's. There are only eight sections of seating in the whole building - I imagine it would be hard to navigate the rows during a game with a full house. The scoreboard works well. Overall the North Bay Memorial Gardens is a grand old building which could bring the OHL back tomorrow without any problems whatsoever, although new seats and private boxes would be critical to the long-term survival of a team, and adding end seats in the curtain end would help as well. The Gardens is well-maintained and attractive, and if there is any justice there will be another OHL team in North Bay within the next couple of years.
Inside North Bay Memorial Gardens
North Bay Memorial Gardens

How To Get There

From the South (Hwy. 11):
Turn left at the second set of lights (Fisher Street). As you proceed along Fisher Street, turn right at the first set of lights (Chippewa St). Memorial Gardens is between 500 and 700 meters down the road on the right.

From the West (Hwy. 17):
Turn right at the fifth set of lights (Fisher Street - the Northgate mall is on the left as you approach Fisher Street). As you proceed along Fisher Street, turn right at the first set of lights (Chippewa St). Memorial Gardens is between 500 and 700 meters down the road on the right.
Another Look Inside North Bay Memorial Gardens
North Bay Memorial Gardens
What's it Used For Today?
The North Bay Skyhawks Junior "A" team play at the Memorial Gardens now, as do the OUA's Nipissing University Lakers. They both draw well. It was a shame that North Bay lost the Cents in the first place; I sincerely hope they get another OHL team soon.

Feedback

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at email and I'll update the guide.







Copyright Kevin Jordan 2002-09.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: April 11, 2009