Guelph Storm


Guelph Storm

Arena Name: Sleeman Centre
Capacity: 4,666 (4,540 seated)
Built: 2000
Address: 55 Wyndham St.N., Guelph, ON N1H 7T8
Telephone No: (519) 837-9690
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1991-92
OHL Championships: 2, Most Recently in 2003-04
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Crimson, Grey, Black & White
Official Web Site: http://www.guelphstorm.com/
Venue Web Site: http://www.guelphsportsent.com/
Unofficial Sites: StormFan.org, Storm Message Board
Google Satellite: Click Here
Former Arena: Guelph Memorial Gardens

OHL
Sleeman Centre
Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre
What's the Arena Like?
After well over half a dozen visits in the past five years, the Sleeman Centre in Guelph almost feels like a second home to me. It was my first road trip in October of 2002, and I've got mostly good memories of the building since I've seen the Knights win a pair of playoff series there. Guelph's rink is a pleasant place, one of the so-called "clone rinks" due to the similarities of its design with Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie, and due to the ease of getting tickets and the fact it's only an hour's drive from me, it looks like it will continue to be my most-visited rink for well into the future.

The Sleeman Centre is one of the league's newest arenas, built in 2000 to replace the Guelph Memorial Gardens. The arena from the outside is a gaudy-looking building built from a former Eaton's store and attatched to a shopping mall. Unlike the old Guelph Gardens, which slipped quietly into the neighbourhood, the Sleeman Centre dominates its block with a huge sign announcing its presence. It's a tacky presence in Guelph's tastefully restrained and old-fashioned stone downtown. There is a long corridor connecting the front entrance (which actually isn't much used) and the mall entrance, which is the main one. There is a photo display in the corridor of Paul Fendley, a former Guelph hockey player killed in a freak accident on the ice in 1972 at the Memorial Gardens. See "Retired Numbers" below for more details about Paul.

The mall is an interesting one and in reality it's only a small grouping of stores, with an interesting classic architectural style. The old Eaton's would have been the only anchor tenant. From the mall entrance, you have to climb a flight of stairs whereupon you see the Storm team store (featuring pucks from all over the CHL) and the Storm ticket office. The office is essentially a mall storefront, and the team store is across the way as though both were ordinary parts of a shopping mall. On gamedays the team sets up the turnstiles in front of part of the food court so you actually have to get into the game to eat mall Chinese food! There is also a sports bar with a mall entrance that overlooks the ice. On non-gamedays the bar is still open.

Once you enter the Sleeman Centre there is an open concourse running around the top of the building much like in Sarnia. There is nothing to obstruct your view while on the concourse so you can run for a beer or a hot dog without missing any of the game. There are souvenir kiosks and a multitude of food stands, which lend a "carnival" type of atmosphere to the building - all they need is a guy with a ring toss game and Storm kewpie dolls and they'd be all set. Once you find your row, you enter the seating area.

The seats are all blue and modern plastic comfortable. Views are all good. The sound system is good - clear and precise without being overpowering. The arena announcer is relatively faceless - not old-fashioned but not annoying either. Washrooms are clean. The scoreclock is new and functional but without a video board. There is a second level of the building with private boxes that run in a "U" shape around the top of the building. On the fourth side is what looks like a standing-room section, although it apparently is never used. One guy I talked to said that the only time he's ever seen it used was for the overflow of press when Guelph hosted the 2002 Memorial Cup. The Storm's deranged mascot Spyke sometimes dances up in that area as well at one point during every third period. He always seems annoyed when the puck drops again and attention turns away from his capering. Spyke is the strangest mascot in the OHL - he has frightful hair shooting out the back of him and glowing red eyes. I'm honestly surprised that he doesn't frighten children.

I've never really had issues with Guelph fans - the atmosphere in the building is decently-loud but also pretty pleasant, and there are usually a fair number of families in the seats. Guelph fans have a reputation for complaining when it comes to the performance of the referees. Some of it is deserved, but I haven't observed too much that's over the top in the Sleeman Centre.

The Sleeman Centre, all in all, is one of the league's best new buildings. It's located right downtown where all good arenas belong, instead of beside a highway. It's a good place to see a game and the little touches, like an open concourse, make all the difference in differentiating the rink from its new-building peers. The only major problem I have with the Sleeman Centre is the gaudy paint-job on the outside - it's by far the OHL's tackiest building from the outside, and an eyesore in the heart of a picturesque town.
Future Developments
The Sleeman Centre has a new HD scoreboard for 2010-11.
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
Guelph fans are generally polite and reserved. The first game I went to in Guelph, the fans were quiet and kept to themselves. The second game was a playoff game and was a heated affair. The atmosphere was a lot better the second time, but there still was not a lot of fan intimidation at the players or the opposing fans. In fact, the third game I saw there was a Knights victory, and about 50 Knights fans serenaded the exiting Guelphites with chants of "Go Knights Go!" as they left into the mall. The Guelph fans did remarkably little in the face of such taunting, and they definitely will not give most visitors a hard time at all.

Storm fans are also notoriously the league's most complaining when it comes to referees. Go to any game in Guelph and you'll hear people shouting at the referee's missed calls. It must be hard to work games in Guelph because it seems like there's no pleasing some of the Storm support. Maybe it's something in the water... although the fans' ire is always at the striped one on the ice, and not at opposing fans.

Sports Nut Says:
We had very little hassle at all from the fans. People in the concourse seemed generally respectful towards my Spitfire jersey and we even had a few people come up and say hello. Apart from a few fans who were really harassing one particular Spitfire fan, who has a long fuse and was still annoyed to the point of wanting to do something about it, it was a quiet game. Fans booed the officiating, cheered goals, but didn't really peep towards the Spitfire faithful. No complaints, generally speaking.
How To Get There
From Hwy 401: Exit 295, north on Hwy-6 to Hwy-7, exit Wellington St. Go east on Wellington St. Wellington becomes Woolwich, follow Woolwich St. Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre is on the left side of the road.

There are two multi-storey "parkades" at the mall; you can park free on weekends, and they don't usually charge during weekdays unless you leave early.
Inside the Sleeman Centre
Sleeman Centre
Franchise History
The Guelph Storm are the current incarnation of the team once known as the Toronto Marlboros. The Marlies got their start in 1934-35 as the Protestant junior club affiliated with the Maple Leafs, in rival to the Catholic Majors. The Marlboros were owned for generations by the Leaf ownership, starting with the Smythe family and continuing on through the Harold Ballard era. When Ballard died in 1990, the first thing the new owners did was to sell the money-losing Marlboros to Hamilton, where they became the Dukes. That lasted only two disastrous seasons, though, and in the end the Dukes were sold yet again to Guelph for 1991-92, where they became the Storm.
Retired Numbers
18 Paul Fendley

Paul was a young man who tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in playing in a game at the Guelph Memorial Gardens. Nobody for any Guelph team (Platers, Storm, Jr B, etc) has worn #18 since the tragedy in the early 70s. Click here to read an article from 1972 about Paul's funeral, or here to see the picture of Paul that hangs on the wall of the GSEC.
Local Rivals
Kitchener and Guelph are the closest two cities in the Western Conference, and the two cities are long-time rivals. Other Guelph rivals include London and Owen Sound.

About the City

By Guelphite stormfan:
Guelph is a city of roughly 120,000 located between Kitchener and Toronto. Founded on St. George's Day, April 23rd, 1827, with the ceremonial felling of a large maple tree, Guelph is considered to be one of the first planned towns in Canada and was chosen as the headquarters of a British development firm known as the "Canada Company". The location was picked by the Company's Superintendent in Canada, a popular Scottish novelist named John Galt who designed the town to attract settlers to it and to the surrounding countryside. Galt's plan was quite imaginative, based on a series of streets radiating from a focal point at the Speed River, and resembles a European city centre, complete with squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes. Galt chose the name "Guelph" for the new town because it was one of the family names of the British royal family, and it had apparently never been used as a place name before. Hence, the current use of the nickname "The Royal City" for Guelph. Guelph is a city of mature, tree-lined streets and is also a city with many beautiful parks for everyone to enjoy. Guelph is viewed by many as both a "bedroom community" because of its close proximity to the Greater Toronto Area and a "college town" because the University of Guelph, the Agricultural College and the Ontario Veterinary College all call Guelph home. Guelph is viewed by locals as a clean, quiet city in which to live and work. Guelph is a city made up of many different ethnic minorities including a prominent UK and Italian heritage.

Guelph's downtown was once like every city centre, alive with shoppers and business alike. But like most cities, shopping malls and big-box stores had, at one time, turned downtown Guelph into a virtual ghost town. Downtown Guelph is enjoying a resurgence and is now the home of small specialty stores and shops. The downtown is also home to some very fine restaurants with many different styles of cuisine available. The downtown nightlife is also alive with various small clubs and bars that have become quite popular. Guelph has a diverse mix of both blue and white-collar occupations. Guelph's largest employer would have to be the University of Guelph but many industries still do business out of Guelph and employ a large number of our citizens. Sleeman Brewery is perhaps our most famous employer as Sleeman beer is regarded as one of the finest brews in North America.

The only real problem with Guelph is the "bedroom community" tag that the city seems to have acquired. It is somewhat evident the way Guelph attends sporting events. At one time Guelph supported teams and sporting events no matter what the sport or event. Now it seems that the population has grown but community spirit is lacking. It also seems that city council always picks the cheapest alternative when it comes to funding of sports venues in the city. The GSEC was almost ten years in city council's lap and that was one ball that almost got dropped. The city took so long in making a decision on building the facility that we, as taxpayers, will be paying for their reckless business decisions with regard to who actually owns and manages the arena.

Guelph's most famous son would have to be Col. John McCrae who penned the immortal poem "In Flanders Fields" during the First World War. Some other famous Guelphites would include former lead tenor of the Metropolitan Opera Edward Johnson, former Ontario Premier George Drew, children's writer Robert Munsch, former NHL player Lou Fontinato, actress Neve Campbell and Olympic swimming medallist Victor Davis.

For more information please visit Guelph tourism'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 2002-09.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: July 19, 2009