Castor


Sherbrooke Castors

Arena Name: Palais des Sports
Capacity: 5,332 (4,321 seated)
Built: 1965
Address: 360 rue Cegep, Sherbrooke, QC, J1E 2J9
Last Game: 2003
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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QMJHL
Palais des Sports
Palais des Sports
What was the Arena Like?
One has to think that the Q might someday return to Sherbrooke. While some of the former homes of the league are small towns with small buildings, Sherbrooke isn't quite like that. It's a picturesque, hilly city of 150,000 in the Eastern townships, and with a population base that large, junior hockey should be a slam-dunk. The arena is outstanding, too, and is as junior-hockey ready as any I've visited in Canada.

The now-renamed Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet sits in the middle of a large municipal sports complex adjacent to downtown Sherbrooke. In addition to the arena, the area also is home to Stade Amédée-Roy, which once hosted one of the Montreal Expos' minor league teams; Municipal Stadium, which can be used for soccer or football and hosted some soccer preliminary matches during the 1976 Olympics; a large municipal pool; and the city's CEGEP. The Palais des Sports opened in 1965, but apart from the 60's architecture it feels brand new. It is built into the side of a hill, so the arena looks very small from the outside, with a modernist brick entrance and walls made of aluminum siding. Once inside the spacious main lobby, you see ticket booths, a historical display, and another set of doors which lead into the main arena bowl.

Once inside, the Palais des Sports sets itself apart from the rest of the former junior hockey arenas which I have visited. For a start, the place is huge. It holds well over 5,000, and would be the fifth-largest in the Q if it was still home to a team. Red, blue and yellow seats surround the ice surface, at a fairly steep angle. All of the old Sherbrooke Castors banners still hang over the concourse (not over the ice), much like at the old Oshawa Civic Auditorium. All of the arena's walls are a dark wood-grain, which is a little strange, but just adds to the 1960's vibe. There is no centre clock, but the roof is high enough that there very easily could be one at some point in the future.

Having now visited over 80 current and former CHL buildings, I can say without any hesitation that the Palais des Sports in Sherbrooke is by far the best that is not currently home to a team - and apparently, someone in Quebec felt the same way, because an expansion team will call the rink home in 2012-13.
Inside the Palais des Sports
Palais des Sports
How To Get There
From A-10: Exit 146, rue St-François nord. Proceed south into town. Make a left on rue Terrill, then a right on rue du Cegep.
What's it Used For Today?
The Palais des Sports has a pretty legendary cachet as the home to the Sherbrooke Castor/Beaver teams of the 1960's through to just a few years ago. The original Beavers were a founding member of the Q in 1969, and had great success in the Eastern Townships, but moved in 1982 to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu to become the St-Jean Castors, later the St-Jean Lynx, and today the Rimouski Océanic. In 1992, the former Trois-Rivières Draveurs moved to Sherbrooke to become the Faucons, and changed their name to the Castors in 1998, but low attendance drove them to Lewiston in 2003.

The Palais des Sports was also once home to the AHL in the 1980's, but is today home to the Sherbrooke St-François of the LNAH. It has also been officially renamed the Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet, after the long-serving president of Sher-Wood hockey sticks.

A QMJHL expansion team will move into the Palais des Sports in the fall of 2012.
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 2002-11.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 4, 2011