Hamilton Steelhawks

Hamilton Steelhawks

Hamilton Dukes

Arena Name: Copps Coliseum
Capacity: 17,500
Built: 1985
Address: 101 York Blvd. Hamilton, ON L8R 3L4
Telephone No: (905) 546-3100
Last Steelhawks Game: 1988
Last Dukes Game: 1991
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Official Web Site: http://www.hecfi.on.ca/coppscoliseum
Google Satellite: Click Here

Copps Coliseum
Copps Coliseum
What was the Arena Like?
Copps Coliseum is the mid-1980's Platonic ideal of the perfect NHL arena. It was constructed in an attempt to finally win the old Hamilton Tigers back to the Steel City, but the Coliseum was never successful in attracting an NHL team, and is now considered somewhat of a white elephant in that it is too big for the AHL, junior hockey, or virtually anything else, while it lacks the private suites and upmarket facilities commonly found in newer NHL buildings. That said, Copps is still a terrific facility, and even when you're going to see the AHL's Bulldogs and the upper bowl is curtained off, it still has a decent atmosphere and is a fun place to watch a hockey game.

Copps is a white building in the centre of downtown Hamilton, minutes off the 403. It is done up in white cladding and accented in orange, with windows about the facade and the underside of the "steps" of the upper bowl visible from street level. It is a tall building, but not as tall as many modern NHL arenas. The ticket office is on street level and once you're inside you climb an escalator to get to the concourse. There is only one concourse between the upper and lower decks, which means that traffic bottlenecks when the building is full. Both washrooms and souvenir stands are plentiful.

The arena bowl is indistinguishable from an NHL building, with two massive decks making up the bulk of Copps Coliseum. All seats are randomly coloured gaudy lemony yellow, grapety purple and orangey orange. The scoreclock is four-sided and has a video board. Views are all good - the upper bowl is not too far away from the action and the lower bowl has a steep angle of seating which means that every seat is a good one. The seats are perhaps a bit too small but otherwise I have no complaints about them. Copps also features a trade floor underneath one side of the building which is used for a convention centre along with the arena floor. During hockey games the floor is used for the Bulldogs kids club "fun zone". The city's OHL days aren't forgotten, either - Memorial Cup banners from 1962 and 1976 hang from the ceiling.

With no NHL team decamping to Hamilton, the city attempted to fill the arena with two junior teams within a decade. The Hamilton Steelhawks were moved from Brantford in 1984 and left for greener pastures in Niagara Falls in 1988, and are now the Erie Otters. The Hamilton Dukes were once the Toronto Marlboros but moved to Hamilton in 1989, and left for Guelph in 1991 to become the Storm. The current AHL team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, were established in 1996 and draw relatively well in Hamilton, but almost never sell the building out. If Copps had a capacity of between six and twelve thousand, it would be an excellent junior or minor-league hockey arena. With a 17,500 capacity, it is simply too large for anything but the NHL. Hamilton still makes a good go of it, however, and a trip to see the Bulldogs in Hamilton is one that every southern Ontario hockey fan should make at least once.

How To Get There

From the East:
QEW to Highway 403 west Hamilton. Take the Copps Coliseum exit at York Blvd. South and follow directional signs to Copps Coliseum, at the corner of York Blvd. & Bay Street.

From the West:
Highway 403, take the Main St. East Exit. For Copps Coliseum follow Main Street east to Bay Street, turn left onto Bay St., follow two blocks to the arena. Directional signs are posted within the city.
Inside Copps Coliseum
Copps Coliseum Interior
What's it Used For Today?
The OHL ventured twice to the city of Hamilton in the 1980's and both times the venture ended in failure. Hamilton is a big city and the OHL seems to have been lost in the action, plus no OHL team could ever draw 17,500 people regularly to a game so Copps is too large anyway. Copps Coliseum is used as the home of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs and is also a concert and convention centre. I personally have seen the Tragically Hip and Weezer at Copps as well as a handful of Bulldogs games, and the arena is still open for business.


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: May 6, 2007