Monday, December 7, 2009

Hershey Centre, Mississauga ON

Basic Information
Team: Mississauga St. Michaels Majors (Ontario Hockey League)
Game: Majors vs Barrie Colts-11/27/09
Team Website: http://www.stmichaelsmajors.com/
Ticket Information: (905) 502-7788
Tourism Information: (866) 327-4093 or http://www.visitmississauga.com/
Internet Broadcast: none

Team History: The St. Michaels Majors are one of the most storied names in the annals of major “Junior A” hockey in Canada. In 1907, a team representing St. Michaels College in Toronto started a hockey program. Just three years later, the Majors won their first Ontario Hockey League championship. The Majors would quickly become a powerful force in the burgeoning sport of junior hockey, winning the Memorial Cup (symbolic of the Canadian Junior Hockey championship) in 1934, 1945, 1947, and 1961. However, the school felt that the schedule was too grueling for the players, and the team was disbanded in 1961.

The team was reborn in 1997, when the Ontario Hockey League awarded a group of St. Michael’s alumni an expansion team. In 2001, another St. Mike’s grad, Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, purchased the team. He moved the club from its Toronto base in 2007 to Mississauga’s Hershey Centre to start the 2007-08 campaign.

How About That Name (and Some history): The home of the Majors has been known as the Hershey Centre since opening in 1998. The building is located on Rose Cherry Place, named after the late wife of Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry, who was instrumental in the building of the arena and it’s first tenant, the Mississauga Ice Dogs. In 2007, a new multi-sport facility called Hershey SportZone opened just to the north of the main bowl. SportZone houses a full size indoor soccer field, a full size basketball court, a gymnastics facility, and two outdoor soccer fields.

Getting There: (from Buffalo) Take the Queen Elizabeth Way (aka the “QEW”) towards Toronto for approximately 80 miles. Exit onto the 403 Hwy (exit 123) going towards Toronto for approximately 8 miles. Exit the 403 on Hurontario St. Go north on Hurontario St for approximately a mile and a half. Make a right onto Matheson Blvd E. Proceed on Matheson Blvd E until you see the complex on the left. There is a large sign at the entrance to the complex.

Nearby Airport: Lester Pearson International Airport is less than five miles from the Hershey Centre.

What To Do Before The Game: Obviously downtown Toronto, which is less than a half an hour from the Hershey Centre is located, is an obvious choice. But, if you don’t want to brave the notorious traffic heading into downtown, there are alternatives in Mississauga. The incredibly helpful and friendly staff at the Ontario Welcome Centre in Fort Erie (just over the Peace Bridge which connects Buffalo to Canada) suggested visiting the Playdium. A 40,000 square foot interactive arcade, the Playdium features over 200 arcade games, a roller coaster simulator, a miniature golf course, bowling lanes, batting cages, and a go-kart track. For more information, visit http://www.playdium.com/.

Where To Eat Before The Game: There are many choices along Hurontario St, ranging from fast food to sit-down ethnic restaurants.

Where To Stay: There are many choices in the Mississauga area for lodgings. I recommend getting a copy of the city’s visitor guide either at the Ontario Welcome Centre or at the website listed at the top of this article.

Tickets: Majors tickets purchased the day of the game are priced as follows: C$21.95 (platinum level),C$16.95 (gold level), and C$14.95 (red level). There is a discount if you purchase prior to the game you are attending.

Parking: Parking at the Hershey Centre is plentiful and free.

The Good Seats: All of the seats at the Hershey Centre have a good view of the ice, so any where you want to sit will more than likely satisfy you. The Majors average around two thousand or so per game, so good seats at all price levels should be available at the box office.

Getting In: There is one major entrance at the box office, and a separate entrance for club seat holders.

Arena Food: This is a mixed bag. At each corner of the building are concession stands, cleverly named “Hershey (snack) Bars”. The selection is limited to hot dogs, pizza, drinks, and (to no one’s surprise) Hershey candy. There are several smaller tables selling roasted nuts in the inner concourse. Just below the press box is the “Bistro”, which has two full service bars, a small concession stand, and booths to eat at. Two slices of pizza and a bottle of Pepsi cost C$11.00 and a hot dog was C$3.50. The pizza wasn’t the most spectacular, but the hot dog was fairly tasty. Interestingly enough, the hot dog was served on what might be considered a sandwich bun, instead of the normal hot dog bun.

Restrooms: There are sufficient rest rooms in the main concourse, which are clean and serviceable.

Scoreboard/Arena Voice: The Hershey Centre has a moderate sized center-hanging scoreboard which has the basic game information. The main scoreboard is assisted by two projection video screens, which are hung on either side the arena. Unfortunately, the screens are hung at a level where the view is obscured by the roof scaffolding.

The PA announcer was fairly sedate, and gave just the basic game information.

Game Staff: The Hershey Centre arena staff was all friendly and very helpful during my visit.

Souvenirs: The team’s main souvenir stand, the “Maniac Shack”, is located at the main entrance to the building. The small store has a very limited line of merchandise, but the prices weren’t too bad. There is another souvenir table located in the concourse, which also sells a limited line.

Atmosphere: I was surprised at how quiet and reserved the fans for the Majors were. I assumed that there would be some kind of hardcore following, but if there was, I didn’t see it.

Overall Rating: The Hershey Centre is a very good building to watch hockey. However, if you’re looking for a intense experience, this isn’t going to be it.

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