Sudbury Wolves


Sudbury Wolves

Arena Name: Sudbury Arena
Capacity: 5,100 (4,600 seated)
Built: 1951
Address: 240 Elgin St., Sudbury, Ontario, P3E 3N7
Telephone No: (705) 675-3941
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1972-73
OHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Blue, Grey, & White
Official Web Site: http://www.sudburywolves.com/
Unofficial Sites: Wolves Forum
Google Satellite: Click Here
Occasional Second Home: Walden Community Centre

OHL
Sudbury Arena
Sudbury Arena
What's the Arena Like?
Even if you've never been to Sudbury, you've surely heard the stories. That it's a pair of mines with a city attached. That the place's landscape looks so lunar that NASA sent astronauts there to train in the 1970's. That it forever would be a place known for Stompin' Tom Connors's paean about bingo halls and mine workers getting drunk. For myself, the only thing I knew about the city growing up was that my Dad was transferred up there in the early 1970's and lasted three weeks before giving up, quitting his job and moving home again. I myself passed through Sudbury on the train in 2002 and 2003 and saw the denuded moonscape, but in true Sudbury fashion, the train goes near town but not actually to it. So, making the trip for the first time in February 2004, I thought I knew what to expect from the city and the arena. But what I found surprised me. There's no getting around it - Sudbury is obviously closer to Buffalo than Paris. But the stories are mostly exaggerated, and Sudbury Arena is easily the best unrenovated old arena in the OHL, with Art Deco touches everywhere and some of the league's best fans. The crowd noise and the old-school feelings alone makes Sudbury well worth the long trip.

Sudbury Arena is an old building in downtown Sudbury, across the street from the VIA train station. From a distance it has that unmistakable "hockey arena" profile, with a high, triangular roof. The building is constructed of brown brick and still has a little bit of leftover Art Deco artifice about it. The exterior of the Sudbury Arena is a candidate for one of my favourites in the OHL. Everything from the lettering to the brickwork is beautiful in its own way - the second most beautiful thing in Sudbury after the Big Nickel.

Sudbury Arena also has one of the best main entrances in the OHL. It has large windows over the doors and a plaque at the front explaining that the building was "constructed to the greater glory of mankind" or something similarly grandiose. It makes you smile, anyway. Once entering the main part of the building you're in a tasteful lobby painted in dark green and tan. Again, it's a fantastic addition to the building and the arena lobby is one of the best parts of the rink. You walk up the stairs through the lobby and you enter into the main arena.

The first sight of the inside of Sudbury Arena is impressive. Everything in the building is painted Wolves' blue, and it feels like a grand, old-style hockey arena. The seats are a tasteful dark blue and all the walls are a sky blue colour. The ceiling is very high and made of wood. It felt a bit strange to look up and see wood paneling instead of steel, but it was all a part of the atmosphere. The score-clock is old but still works well. It's functional but not one of the league's best. There are banners hanging honouring the Wolves' retired numbers as well as the championship banners. There is a banner honouring the Sudbury Wolves of 1932, who won the Memorial Cup.

The arena announcer, Berk Kearney Sr., is one of the old-style gentlemen like Paul Morris or Bob Sheppard, who clearly has been doing his job forever and only wants to call the game, not be part of the entertainment. (It turns out he's past his 85th birthday.) It's too bad there aren't more left like him. The sound system that blasts his voice is fine. The rest of the building continues in the same old-timey vein. The hallways underneath the seats are narrow and crowded, and the Zamboni actually dumps its snow payload in the middle of the back hallway of the building. Catwalks and corridors are everywhere - the rink's layout is by far the OHL's most intricate and unusual, but not in a bad way. It's still easy to get around the arena, but it's the sort of place that you could spend an hour exploring and still not see all of. There is a team store which is among the league's smallest, just barely wide enough to fit a few people in, and with the ceiling so low that you could bump your head if you're not careful. The Wolves have the same gear on sale as everyone else, although theirs is much cooler, because in my opinion they have the best logo and uniforms in the OHL. Washrooms are pretty good considering their age.

The seats are all comfortable and there really aren't many bad ones. Don't be tricked into buying standing room, though - there are still fat iron support columns holding up the roof, and if you're in standing room you're almost guaranteed to be looking out from behind a pillar. Team benches are located partially in the attacking zone and the glass is low, so it must be hard to clear the puck along the glass in Sudbury.

The atmosphere in Sudbury is pretty good overall, and the building gets pretty loud like most old buildings. I have been to two games there; both were on a Sunday afternoon but there weren't a huge number of kids around, and the hecklers were out in full voice. For the most part fans and arena staff were pretty good, but with each there were a few bad apples. We attended our first game in Sudbury on a complimentary corporate ticket because one of my friends works for a company with an office in Sudbury, and as a result they had corporate season tickets. The Wolves have a "corporate lounge" area which is reserved for business guests only, and I tried to get in.

"You can't come in", said the security guard.
"Why not?", I asked.
"Because this is the corporate lounge", he said. "Silver tickets only."
"I have a silver ticket", I replied. "Look!"
He refused to look at my ticket and ordered me out. I'm guessing it was because of my Knights' sweater. Now honestly, I don't have a problem with not getting into the corporate bigwig lounge, but the fact is that I was entitled to be in there and the security guard refused to even look at my ticket. The second visit I made to town I encountered no problems with Arena staff. Security is mostly non-existent though, and I've heard that for some rivalry games, the lack of security can make the Arena a difficult place to visit. Plan accordingly if you're a Hounds fan.

The best moment of a Wolves game happens when the Wolves score. An actual stuffed white wolf - not a replica but a real one from the taxidermist's shop - is suspended from the ceiling on a cable. When the Wolves score, the Wolf is ran along the cable over the ice! A flying, stuffed wolf soaring over the ice can't help but make you smile. It's the strangest sight I've seen on my travels so far, and it definitely fits the building and the team and the city perfectly.

Overall, the Sudbury Arena is a good building but a worn-out one. It was built the same year as the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, but the Aud was recently renovated and sparkles, while the Sudbury Arena looks tired in places. I'd much prefer to see the Arena renovated rather than replaced, though. With some spit and polish and a few coats of paint, and a new scoreboard, the Sudbury Arena would be one of the best old-school buildings in the OHL. As it is now, it's an enjoyable place to watch a hockey game, but it could be a lot better with some love and affection sent its way. (The city is currently at work on renovating the old barn [see below]; I'm looking forward to going back to see what they come up with.) If you've lived in Canada for any length of time, you'll have heard the stories about Sudbury. Don't believe them. It's a worthwhile trip, between the beautiful ancient madhouse of an arena, passionate fans and northern hospitality.
Future Developments
The Sudbury Arena has a major renovation underway which will eventually result in removal and extension of the north side wall, construction of two new washroom areas and 12 private luxury suites, building a new lounge area, and the conversion of 990 seats to club seats. The $1.5 million renovation began in the fall of 2006 with exterior work, and interior work finished in the fall of 2007. Capacity was reduced from 6,000 to 5,100 with the removal of a lot of the building's standing-room area for suites. A new video scoreclock has also been installed.
Inside Sudbury Arena
Sudbury Arena Interior
What Is It Like For Away Fans?
Sudbury fans are mainly good, but there were a few bad apples who did their best to make our experience miserable. My first game there, every time the Knights scored (which they did eight times that afternoon) we stood up to celebrate the goal. It's an involuntary reaction and a normal one, as I'm sure almost all hockey fans would agree. The woman behind us was constantly yelling at us to "sit down!", saying "I can't see the play". The play was over at the time, given that the Knights had scored, but I digress. She spent the whole game loudly and ostentatiously lecturing her daughter on the bad manners of London fans and how we were morons. If it happened in London I would have probably got into an argument with her, but in Sudbury I let it go, not wanting to cause problems. Another guy behind us screamed directly into our ears when the Wolves scored and once told us to "fuck off". Those two people were the only poorly-behaved fans we encountered all game, and the rest of the fans were pretty good overall, but it was still a black mark on an otherwise enjoyable afternoon.

Sports Nut says:
For the most part, they were very much into their hockey, being loud and supportive of their team. However, it's the only place to this point where I've been physically attacked by someone. I have my blue horn at all games...so, I was blowing it like I normally do, towards the ice and up at a near 45-degree angle. I was grabbed from behind and yanked by some person, and then harassed to the hills by this older lady, who claimed I was making her granddaughter deaf. After several attempts to reason with her politely, I was simply told to shove the horn up my "arse" and to "fuck off", numerous times. When other Spits fans got involved, they were told the same thing I was. However, she left after the 2nd period and the horn wasn't needed in the third, so no worries. Oh, and apparently I had some guy try to eat my nachos when I wasn't looking! Not good. So, generally, they're good fans, but there are definitely a few bad apples.

How To Get There

From Hwy-69: Take Hwy-69 to Long Lake Rd./Hwy-80. North on Long Lake Rd./Hwy-80 (becomes Paris St./Hwy-80) to Elgin St. Take Paris Road north to Van Horne Street, which is one block north of Elgin, turn left, and take that to Elgin (2 blocks). Turn right on Elgin and the arena is right there on the right side.

Your best bet for parking is across the street from the main entrance in the lot of the train station.
Franchise History
The Sudbury Wolves' history dates back to the early 1950's, when the Barrie Flyers were the powerhouse of junior hockey. The Flyers played in Barrie until the 1962-63 season, when they were transferred to Niagara Falls to become the new Niagara Falls Flyers (not to be confused with a second team, also called the Niagara Falls Flyers, who are today's Saginaw Spirit). The first Flyers played in Niagara until 1971-72. The following year, the Flyers moved north to Sudbury and merged with the local NOJHL team, becoming the OHL Wolves.
Retired Numbers
6 Randy Carlyle
10 Ron Duguay
17 Mike Foligno
Local Rivals
Sudbury's historic archrival was always the nearby North Bay Centennials, and with the North Bay Battalion now back and playing only 90 minutes away, it's expected that the Battalion will become the Wolves' main rival again. The Wolves also have a huge rivalry with their northern compatriots the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and they play each other six times a year in spite of being in different conferences.
A Typical Sunday at Sudbury Arena
Sudbury Arena
About the City
If you are from the Greater Sudbury area and would be interested in writing a short blurb about the city, please contact me at email.

For more information please visit Sudbury Tourism at SudburyTourism.ca.

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 2002-13.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: December 24, 2013