Horse


Barrie Colts

Arena Name: Barrie Molson Centre
Capacity: 4195
Built: 1995
Address: 555 Bayview Drive, Barrie, Ontario, L4N 8Y2
Telephone No: (705) 739-4220
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1995-96
OHL Championships: 1, in 1999-2000
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Navy, Yellow, Red & White
Official Web Site: http://www.barriecolts.com/
Unofficial Sites: Barrie Colts Fan Page, Unofficial Colts Page
Google Satellite: Click Here
Former Arena: Barrie Arena

OHL
Barrie Molson Centre
Barrie Molson Centre
What's the Arena Like?
The Barrie Molson Centre is the prototypical "new arena" as constructed over and over again, cookie-cutter style, throughout Ontario and across Canada in the 1990s and 2000s. Opening on New Year's Eve, 1995, the BMC set the standard for new rinks in the 1990s for the rest of the league. However, like the first kid on the block to get a new toy, it has since been surpassed by its descendant rinks, to the point that today it already is out of date, and too small to host major events like the Memorial Cup.

Located on the suburban southern fringe of Barrie within sight of Highway 400, the arena sits among countless big-box stores and across the street from Park Place (the former Molson Park). The Molson Centre is an attractive light-coloured building with an arched roofline and a huge marquee sign announcing its presence to the surrounding neighbourhood. Like the rest of its suburban brethren, the BMC has a huge parking lot on-site. The arena has a Casey's restaurant built into the front of the building which is open even when the rest of the rink is not, and which is one of the more interesting "little extras" built into the OHL experience in Barrie. If you choose to have dinner there before the game, you may find yourself seated at a table with a panoramic view of the ice surface through a huge glass wall behind one of the nets. If you choose to enter the normal way, the building really has no lobby but only a tiny vestibule with ticket windows, and behind that, the seating bowl.

The concourse in Barrie is laid out in a U-shape, underneath the seating bowl instead of at the top of it. As a result, you can't see the game from the concourse as in Guelph or Sarnia. However, in both ends the concourse takes an interesting departure - in one end, the seats taper down so that you can see the ice from the open concourse, whereas in the other end the concourse takes you directly through the Casey's restaurant! The one end of seats also is connected with the restaurant all the way down to the glass, with full food service. By new building standards, the BMC is anything but boringly symmetrical. There are only about ten or fewer rows of seats in each end, in comparison to well over 20 on the sides. On one side of the ice the seats form a wall all the way into the rafters, while on the other there is something I have never seen in any other arena before - the private suites are not up at the top of the arena like in most buildings, but are literally right down at the glass. The general seating area only starts with "Row 7" at the top of the suite level. As a result of the strange design, the capacity of the BMC is lower than it could be had they used all available space for seating. Even so, the angle of the seats is very steep for a new building, and the low capacity means that all views of the ice are excellent.

Peripherals in Barrie are decent enough for a new building. Concessions are fewer than they could be but there is food service in the seats with roaming concessionaires, a nice touch rarely seen in the OHL. Washrooms are perfectly adequate. The team store is big enough and sells the usual assortment of gear, as does a couple of souvenir kiosks spaced throughout the concourse. The last time I visited, the scoreboard was beginning to show its age with a number of burnt-out bulbs in both the centre-ice clock and the ordinary hockey board in the one end, with four projection video screens set up in the rafters near the blue lines. The sound system is fine. I have been told that the Molson Centre now has a centre video board, and I'll review it next time I make it to Barrie for a game.

Fan support in Barrie is a little difficult to understand. The arena is laid out perfectly for a raucous atmosphere, with steep seats on top of the action and a small capacity, plus the fact that Barrie usually draws near capacity crowds. Yet the BMC is easily the quietest building in the OHL. My first visit, we sat directly at the top of the building in the last row, and could literally hear the lights humming during play. For my second visit we were lower, but the near-capacity crowd was still stoic and silent. It's hard to figure out. At one point the team even piped in "Go Colts Go" cheering over the loudspeakers for about thirty seconds - about the most bush-league thing any hockey team can do - and even then, the fans sat on their hands and quietly ignored the prompting.

Much like baseball's "cookie-cutter" ballparks of the 1970's, the BMC is almost identical to new rinks in Brampton, Mississauga, Guelph and Sarnia, with only minor details distinguishing between them. The Molson Centre should be the best, with its steep seating and great views, yet it's still a place without much of a soul. Still, Barrie has made a great home to the OHL since the Colts' formation in 1995, and it is a testament to the fans there that the building has never had much of a problem selling out. Fans are devoted and knowledgable. I just wonder whether they'll ever learn to cheer.
Future Developments
The Barrie Molson Centre, as the first of the OHL's new arenas to open, was in many ways it is the prototype that other cities followed. This is something of a curse, however, as newer arenas were able to learn from Barrie's mistakes and build better. Barrie city council, when debating the construction of the new arena, apparently looked at the OHL's minimum size guideline of 4000 seats and thought, "well, I guess we'll build 4000 seats!" As a result, the arena is way too small to host the Memorial Cup or other major events and tournaments in spite of the success the Colts have had on-ice since their formation. Today, most people in Barrie will readily admit that the Molson Centre was built too small. As far as I know, there are no plans to renovate the Barrie Molson Centre, however most in the city will agree that it will be necessary at some point in the near future. Given the building's layout, it should be possible to expand the 18-row seating bowl on the one side around the end of the arena without too much difficulty, a move that would bring in at least another 500 seats without sacrificing any of the building's quirks, such as the ice-level suites. If I hear of any plans to expand the BMC I will post them here.

The Colts installed a full centre ice video board during the 2007-08 season, which replaced one of the OHL's worst, most run-down clocks.
Inside the Barrie Molson Centre
Barrie Molson Centre
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
Yawn.

I've heard from Barrie fans that some people call the BMC the "Barrie Funeral Home Centre" and that name is ridiculously appropriate. I have never attended quieter games (with a full house) in my life. Colts' fans are subdued; they cheer goals and boo bad calls, but the rest of the game they are in a dreamy trance-like state. Bring a few friends with you to Barrie and out-shout the whole building.

We once had a shouting match with a visiting peewee hockey team throughout most of the game, but it was all in fun (and the Knights won 6-4). All the adults were polite and helpful in Barrie, and I didn't hear one negative comment from anyone over 14.

Barrie fans are too quiet for hockey fans, but they are well-mannered and courteous, among the classiest in the league.

Sports Nut says:
From the moment we walked into the Molson Centre, no problems at all. They seemed almost intimidated by us, which is a first. A very mellow group of people, who gave absolutely no harassment at all to start off. Seemed almost possessed, just walking through the halls staring straight ahead. No real emotion showed. I have to admit that it freaked me out a little bit. Once we got into the game, though, they showed they can cheer. They were quite loud during the Barrie goals, but then went into the dream state. Just sitting there, not really doing a whole lot. It wasn't until the end of the game where we had much hassle. Even then it was a guy giving me the finger from 100 feet away.

Knighthawk says:
Fans are great. Someone even wanted to try on my wig! :)

How To Get There

The BMC is located at the intersection of Mapleview (formerly Molson Park) Drive and Bayview. Drive two lights east of Highway 400's Mapleview Drive exit, which is exit 90. The arena will be on your right.

If you're coming from Highway 11, turn west on Mapleview Drive and proceed to Bayview. The arena will be on your left.

Parking is on-site.
Franchise History
Barrie was added to the OHL as an expansion team in 1995-96.
Retired Numbers
None
Local Rivals
A great number of the people in Barrie work in the GTA, so the three Toronto teams are natural rivals for the Colts. Sudbury is also a rival, as is Owen Sound.
Another Look Inside the Barrie Molson Centre
Barrie Molson Centre

About the City

By Barrian Bud for PM:

Located right between the city of Toronto and cottage country, the city of Barrie is one of Canada's fastest-growing cities. Barrie is regarded as a growing city that still maintains its "small-town" feel, with a population of 125,000. With its beautiful location on the edge of Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie is a great place for a summer getaway, yet with several nearby ski resorts, it remains a popular tourist city in the winter. Georgian College is also located in the north end of the city, and is one of the fastest-growing colleges in the province. Barrie remains a "blue-collar" town, as a large portion of its residents commute to Toronto for work every day. The Molson plant used to employ thousands, but left a huge hole in the city's industry after its closure a number of years ago.

The city features several tourist destinations such as Georgian Downs Raceway and Slots, located on the outskirts of the city, right off Highway 400. Though the Molson plant closed several years ago, Molson Park remains a popular place for concert-goers. Canada's portion of the Live8 concerts was held at the park, and other acts such as Green Day, the Offspring, and several other major acts have played at the park. Barrie also features many excellent golf courses in the area including National Pines, one of Canada's top-rated courses. The downtown features bars and eateries as far as the eye can see, and though it may seem like a smaller city, Barrie's downtown is always hopping. However, with the growing population, there have been problems with crime over the past few years in the downtown after the bars let out. City council has tried to address these problems, but Barrie's downtown still isn't the "friendliest" of downtowns.

If shopping is your interest, Barrie's "Golden Mile" is probably your best bet. For years, Barrie's Bayfield Street has been the place to go for all your shopping needs. With three malls located within the mile-long stretch, it is often a busy place, and sometimes too busy. Expect traffic delays any time you go there. Of the three malls, Georgian Mall (the furthest of the three) is by far the busiest and nicest mall in the city. It is two stories with over 130 stores, and currently under expansion.

Overall, the city of Barrie remains a popular place to visit. It prides itself on being a clean, friendly city, and for the most part it is. At times though it is clear that the city has grown too quickly for town planners, and traffic congestion remains a problem around the city, especially in the popular shopping areas. The best word of advice that can be offered to visitors to the city is to have patience if travelling along popular shopping thoroughfares like Bayfield Street or Molson Park Drive.

For more information, visit the city of Barrie Tourism at www.tourismbarrie.com/.

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 2002-07.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: October 7, 2007