Rangers


Kitchener Rangers

Arena Name: Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
Capacity: 6,900 (6,268 seated)
Built: 1950
Address: 400 East Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario, N2H 1Z6
Telephone No: (519) 745-0303, or (800) 265-6368
Ice Surface Size: 192' X 85'
Franchise Date: 1963-64
OHL Championships: 4, Most Recently in 2007-08
Memorial Cup Championships: 2, most recently in 2002-03
Colours: Red, Blue & White
Official Web Site: http://www.kitchenerrangers.com/
Venue Web Site: http://www.theaud.ca/
Unofficial Sites: Rangers Rush, Kitchener Rangers Unofficial, Unofficial Rangers, Rangers Rush Message Board
Google Satellite: Click Here
Occasional Second Home: Waterloo Memorial Arena

OHL
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
What's the Arena Like?
The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium inspires more conflicting feelings from me than any other arena I have visited. It is by far my favourite junior hockey-sized arena in Canada. It is a place where the interesting architecture, great views, and fantastic atmosphere of an old arena meets the clean facilities, ample parking and great scoreboard and sound system of a new one. It is a joy to attend games there... or at least it would be if I was not a Knights fan, and the Aud was not filled with Rangers fans. The rivalry has become heated almost to the point that I don't enjoy going to the Aud as much as I used to for Knights games, which is a terrible shame. But that said, if you're a fan of any other team, you'll probably love going to the place again and again.

The Auditorium complex is a sprawling building in older suburban Kitchener. The old main entrance has one of the best facades in hockey, with a classically inspired design and the words KITCHENER MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM spelled out above the door. In Kitchener, though, old meets new, as the KMA was given a gigantic renovation over the summer of 2002. The building was widened and private suites were added, bringing the building up to code as one of the best in the league, combining modern conveniences with old-style charm. Further renovations since then have upped the capacity to the third-largest in the OHL.

The Aud complex also includes Centennial Stadium, which is used for football, and Jack Couch Stadium, the baseball diamond which is home to the Inter-County League's Kitchener Panthers. The Aud's new main entrance cuts the arena complex right in half, so that when you enter, you are in a wide hallway with the Kiwanis Rink, which is a community pad, and the Kinsmen Rink, which is the home of the Junior "B" Kitchener Dutchmen on one side and the Rangers' home on the other. There are pictures hanging all over the walls and you can feel the history of the Western Conference's oldest team bearing down upon you as you wander the halls. There are also Olympic banners from the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, who represented Canada in hockey at the 1956 games in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, and in 1960 in Squaw Valley, Calif.

Getting inside the Aud, though, is a chore, and could in theory be dangerous. The old main entrance is barely used anymore, which means that virtually all 7,000 fans have one entrance point - into the main hallway, up the narrow stairs and into the seating bowl. Incoming fans bottleneck terribly, and the waiting crowds can get huge and uncomfortable. Paralells with the bottlenecks that created the Hillsborough Disaster in Sheffield in 1989 are overstated, but if I were in charge of the Rangers, the first thing I would do would be to create more entrance points to the arena to relieve the congestion.

Once you get inside the rink itself you see one of the OHL's best arenas laid out in front of you. The seats are all gold in the lower half and red in the upper half, and they surround the rink wherever they could bolt them in. The seats themselves are pathetically tiny, and must be uncomfortable to anyone larger than average size. Leg room is also terribly inadequate. Views, however, are absolutely excellent. There is standing room located along the press-box side of the building at the top of the seating area, behind one of the nets, and down by the glass behind rail seats right at ice level. There is a restaurant located behind one of the goals and private boxes down the sides.

The boxes and much of the new-fangled equipment in the Aud was added at part of the massive renovation project in 2002. The scoreboard is one of the league's best. There is now a video board with an excellent replay function; they also use it for "RangerVision" before the game, which is a TV program thing that psyches people up for the game. It's a weird, weird experience, but cute too. They also play the "SpongeBob SquarePants" song every game, with every child in the arena singing along. It's strange, but it's absolutely endearing as well. The sound system is relatively good for an older building and is not overpowering - a very much appreciated touch.

Whenever most hockey teams at any level score a goal, the sound system instantly drowns out all cheering with a blasted foghorn and then plays either "Rock & Roll, Part II" or some dancey-techno-crap music at 1,000,000 dB. It's one of the most annoying things about any hockey experience - after a goal, the only thing making sound should be the fans. In Kitchener, though, they get a pass. After every Rangers goal, the Rangers have their own song, borrowed from their namesake in New York. It's a high-tempo number with a chorus of "Whoa-oa-oa LET'S GO RANGERS!!!" The fans really get into it. Much like the "OK Blue Jays" song, it's silly but incredibly charming and cute as well. It's enough to warm any hockey fan's heart, even if you're a cold-hearted bastard like yours truly.

While the Aud has the youngish character of a newer building, it still shows its age in several places (and I mean that as a compliment). There are painted bricks and exposed beams in the concourses reminiscent of Maple Leaf Gardens, and there is memorabilia everywhere. In addition, the exposed beams now feature the names and numbers of a cornucopia of former Rangers, which is a wonderful touch. Historic murals and photographs decorate the walls. There are little food stands everywhere, selling the usual arena fare plus a few "made-in-Kitchener" items like Bavarian beer nuts. Mmmm... beer nuts. Washrooms are clean and plentiful. The Rangers also enjoy what is unquestionably the finest team store in the OHL, the Outpost. The Outpost is huge, and it's filled with Ranger gear. They really have thought of everything that any fan could ever want, there are souvenir items of every shape, size and colour. If you've ever wanted anything at all with a Kitchener Rangers logo on it, the odds are that the Outpost has it.

Banners hang everywhere from the ceiling, reminding you of Kitchener's long, proud history. The Rangers have numerous championship banners as well as two Memorial Cups, four "honoured" numbers and the like. They also have retired #1 for "The Fans" which in my opinion is ludicrous. The fans don't play hockey. I'm all in favour of honouring the fans, but raising a retired number for them is unmistakeably bush-league - about the only thing in Kitchener that is.

Ranger fans... where to begin? The atmosphere in Kitchener is phenomenal. Loud, rowdy, raucous fans cheer wildly, boo harshly, chant, scream and do anything you'd want good fans to. The old Aud shakes to its foundations when the fans get going. The Tullio Arena is uncontested as the OHL's loudest, but the Aud has a good claim at second. Yet again, the London-Kitchener rivalry has reared its ugly head at times, and the Aud joins Windsor Arena as the only rink where I have ever feared for my safety. That's not to say that security isn't any good, just that they can't be everywhere at once, and, well, Ranger fans really hate us Londoner types. Fans of 18 other teams will probably find Ranger fans a little more accomodating, but the passion in the Tri-Cities runs over a little too often for the liking of anyone who's not already pre-disposed to confrontation.

Overall, the Aud manages to mix old-time character with new-fangled facilities, which begs the question, "Why can't they all be built like this?" The combination of fantastic views and atmosphere make attending games there more than worth it. Yet there's the rub - the fans are a big part of what makes the Aud experience what it is, but their hardcore nature can make attending games there unpleasant. Still, if I had an out-of-towner I was looking to introduce to the OHL, someone from California or Finland or Japan, and I wanted them to see the best that the OHL experience had to offer, I would take them to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. It's quite the place.
Future Developments
Over the summer of 2012, the roof of the Aud was raised and a new upper deck built on one side of the ice. Information can be found on the Rangers' website. The Rangers are opening the 2012-13 season on the road so that the project can be properly finished.

The Aud was renovated over the summer of 2002 to bring it up to code; there was also an addition put on. Over the summer of 2004 an addition was built which included new team offices for the Rangers. The Outpost - already the OHL's best team store - was made even larger. For the 2008 Memorial Cup, the Rangers also added more capacity by moving the press box from the back of a section of seating to an overhanging gondola, and then installing about 430 more seats where the press box was.

There has been some speculation of a new, JLC-style arena in Kitchener at some point in the future, but so far it is just speculation.
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
Ranger fans are, for the most part, excellent. They're among the league's loudest, and they boo as well as cheer. There are a few who are expert hecklers as well. The atmosphere in Kitchener at any game is fantastic. However, there are a lot of hardcores in the crowd, and visiting fans may well encounter some difficulties from the locals. I've occasionally feared for my safety at Ranger games before, but not seriously so, and if you're not from London or Guelph, you should probably be OK.

#1 67's Fan Says:
Ranger fans are all right, I guess, I went down when Ottawa played them one year. The fans were nice although I would say some made comments to us Ottawa fans and to me. But it was still pretty nice although the fans could be a little nicer. They're pretty noisy also which I liked.
Inside the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
Kitchener Aud

How To Get There

From 401 east : Exit on Highway 8 west Kitchener/Waterloo. Exit off Highway 8 and go west to Kitchener (right hand side). Take Ottawa Street exit and turn left onto Ottawa Street. The Auditorium is on the right.

From 401 west: Exit on Highway 8 West Kitchener/Waterloo. Exit at Ottawa Street and turn left. The Auditorium is on the right.

Parking is on-site and free.
Another Look Inside the Aud
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium
Franchise History
The Kitchener Rangers were once the legendary Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters in the 1950's, but they moved to Kitchener in 1963-64. They recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary.
Honoured Numbers
Much like the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Rangers do not "retire" numbers but they do have five numbers of honoured former players hanging from the Aud rafters. They are:

3 Scott Stevens
6 Paul Coffey
7 Bill Barber
19 Larry Robinson
21 Jim McGeachie
22 Gary Crosby
Local Rivals
Guelph and Kitchener are the closest two teams, geographically speaking, in the Western Conference, and therefore the rivalry can be heated. Kitchener also is a rival to London, Owen Sound and Erie.

About the City

By Kitchenerite Eagle Vision:
Kitchener was originally known as Berlin, Ontario, and later changed and split into the twin cities of Kitchener, and to the north, Waterloo. The name was changed for patriotic reasons during the First World War and was renamed for Lord Kitchener, one of the heroes of the Boer War and Secretary of War in the British government at the time. Waterloo is generally though of as the newer region, with better economic prosperity, a booming high-tech industry, suburbs and two universities (Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier). Kitchener, on the other hand, is a city with more of the familiar mix of big business along with manufacturing firms. The border runs down the middle of the combined city, and the two cities blend together as one seamlessly. The downtown core of Kitchener and uptown core of Waterloo run along the same street, King St., which runs from the 401 through the oldest parts of town and into St. Jacobs, an area known for the Amish who account for high amounts of the population in the area to the north of the city.

Despite the city's fragmented and often confusing system of roads which hardly resembles the grids found in most North American inner cities, the highway system is one of the most sophisticated of all of the mid-sized cities in Canada. One area where residents of Kitchener-Waterloo have always been shortchanged is shopping. The two cities combine for nearly 300,000 residents and yet there are only two larger-sized malls - Fairview in Kitchener and Conestoga in Waterloo. The obvious attraction in Kitchener would be Oktoberfest - traditionally Kitchener has been thought of as a community where with a disproportionate amount of Germans. Truth be known, Kitchener and Waterloo have both become extremely multicultural over the years, especially for mid-sized Ontario communities. Kitchener was once known for the world's longest bar (Lulu's). Boxer Lennox Lewis might be the most successful Kitchener athlete, while 3-time Stanley Cup champion Scott Stevens is the most successful hockey player to have been born in Kitchener. He also played junior in Kitchener for the Rangers. The longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history, William Lyon MacKenzie King, was also born in Kitchener.

Quirky facts: King and Weber streets run parallel through both cities end to end and cross each other twice. Kitchener-Waterloo would be a prime candidate for pizza capital of the world. In 1960 the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen represented all of Canada at the Winter Olympics, winning the silver medal.

For Kitchener-Waterloo information please visit the Tourist Board's website.

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 2002-12.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 30, 2012