Wildcats


Moncton Wildcats

Arena Name: Moncton Coliseum
Capacity: 7,200 (6,554 seated)
Built: 1973
Address: 377 Killam Drive, Moncton, NB, E1C 3T1
Telephone No: (506) 857-4100
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 1995-96
QMJHL Championships: 2, Most Recently in 2009-10
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Red, Blue, Yellow & White
Official Web Site: Moncton-Wildcats.com
Venue Web Site: MonctonColiseum.com
Unofficial Site: Wildcats Message Board
Tourist Information: GoMoncton.com
Google Satellite: Click Here
Former Arenas:
J-Louis Levesque Arena
Aitken Centre

QMJHL
Moncton Coliseum
Moncton Coliseum
What's the Arena Like?
I had tickets to a game at the Moncton Coliseum in March of 2006. I was flying down to the mainland for the weekend and planning to see the eventual QMJHL champs because I missed them coming to Newfoundland, PEI because I had never been to PEI at the time, and Halifax because they were closest to the airport. Three games in three days and then back to the Rock. A couple days before my flight left, I checked the QMJHL schedule again and somehow the game in Moncton had been moved to Bathurst. What? A little checking around determined for me that an RV show had booked into the Coliseum and somehow that took priority over a previously-scheduled hockey game in Hub City, so I rapidly re-arranged my travel plans and wound up unexpectedly in Bathurst two nights later, watching one of the best junior hockey games I have ever seen - a raucous, seesaw battle that the Titan pulled out by a 6-5 score with a Jordan Clendenning goal two minutes from the end of regulation being the difference.

So, I've never been to a game at the Moncton Coliseum, although I have been there a couple of times while no games were being played. The arena is a sprawling, flat building that looks barely a storey high from the outside, with brown brick and a dark brown metal roof. The place is surrounded by parking lots and the Trans-Canada Highway runs right nearby, meaning that there is no convivial atmosphere, just a bland and tiny-looking 1970's edifice sitting matter-of-factly. Once inside, the place opens up quite a bit. There are meeting rooms and such on the premises, but the main seating bowl is the primary attraction.

Most of the Moncton Coliseum was built underground, and so the tiny exterior hides a much larger interior. The place has a huge ring of green-blue seats surrounding the ice, with a second deck overlooking the first on the one side, much like at Centre 200. There is a large, six-sided video scoreboard in place that was installed for the 2006 Memorial Cup. The whole arena is very dark on the inside, with all of the structural steel and accents being painted a dark brown and blue. It feels a lot like the Bayshore in Owen Sound, featuring a dark, middle-aged interior in which wood grain and shag carpet wouldn't feel that out of place.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the Coliseum given that "we can't just have people taking pictures of the RV's", as the security guard put it. But no matter, the Coliseum is an interesting building, and I hope to get to a game there eventually.


Will Maclaren writes: The Moncton Coliseum was built out of necessity. The previous primary rink in the city, Moncton Stadium, stood for several decades before the roof collapsed following a massive snowstorm on Christmas Day, 1970. The first event held at the Coliseum was an NHL pre-season game between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadians and the Orr and Esposito Boston Bruins in the fall of 1973.

Since then, the Coliseum has been home to teams ranging from senior hockey to the AHL. The building, much like its main tenants, has seen its share of changes over the years. In the beginning, the Coliseum was a stand-alone facility. Over time, a complex has been added to the existing facility that is home to several trade shows (including that infamous RV show) as well as a larger box office (the original Coliseum box office is now home to the Wildcats business offices and souvenir shop).

Though the building shows its age more and more every year, small refurbishments happen at different intervals to modernize the building as much as possible. At its inception, the lower bowl seats at the Coliseum were wooden... and lovely 1973 vintage sunset orange. The upper bowl seating was (and still is) wooden seats painted blue. Before the 1997-98 season, the lower bowl seats were removed and blue plastic seats were installed. The seats were more comfortable but it came at the cost of slightly lower capacity. The highest single game attendance for a Wildcats game - 7,605 - was at their home opener in September, 1996; a record that cannot possibly be broken so long as Cats call the Coliseum home.

Due in part to the fact that most of the building is built into the ground, the ceiling of the building itself is quite low. The roof in the balcony slops down on virtually the same angle as the seats themselves before cantilevering over the lower bowl and ice surface. Therefore, having a stoppage in play due to a puck hitting the rafters is not uncommon.

Because of the slope of the seats and the sightlines in general, sitting low in the lower bowl can make it extremely difficult to watch a game. The "prime seats" in the building are widely considered to be the top 6 rows of the lower bowl or first 6 rows of the balcony. Personally, besides this I find that the best seat in the house is probably in the press box. There are is exactly one private box. A part of the old press box previously used by print media was designated as a private box for fans after the press area was expanded for the 2006 Memorial Cup.

The concourse is fairly wide... but once attendance reaches around 5,500 it becomes very congested. Traffic flows fairly well for the most part and two large male and female washrooms usually take care of business without lineups... or at least not long ones. Below the main concourse is a bar that was for long stretches of time reserved for season ticket holders only (I no longer know if this is the case). It's also been the site of several postgame webcast/radio shows over the years.

Besides the structural improvements made to the building, the Wildcats themselves have made contributions to the building. Some of it is less noticeable to everyone, such as altering the arena menu over the years to expanding the press box for the arrival of the Memorial Cup. One of the most noticeable changes made over the years is the wall behind sections 4-7 and beyond into the concourse area, where illuminated signs showcase pictures of every former Wildcat player to suit up in the NHL. As the franchise gets up in years and more and more players make the NHL, that wall space is becoming increasingly scarce. In the submitted picture, the photographer would've had his back to this wall.

As for game atmosphere, it isn't the best in the league... but not the worst either. At one point is was pretty much the worst, but the addition of PEI and the decline of atmosphere at Halifax Metro Center - not to mention a marked improvement to the overall game experience in Moncton itself - has moved it up a couple notches.

Much like the rest of the junior hockey world, the game has gone quite corporate. Virtually everything is sponsored and giveaways are fast and furious. Much like every other building, the rink has its own distinctive sounds... though it should be noted that the Coliseum's in house announcer (Marty Kingston) and anthem signer (Valmond Bourque) are considered two of the best around at their respective positions. One of the distinct characteristics of the Coliseum is the lights being turned down when the home team scores. Though not terribly unusual nowadays, when Moncton started this trend around 1999 it was a lot more unique... and it continued to this day, one of the more ingrained traditions at Wildcat games.

The acoustics in the building are not great. Nor is the sound system - although it has reportedly been replaced by a new system. No doubt the system is great... it's just a tough building to pipe music into. It either comes off as very low or so loud it becomes unbearable and very warbled. The building usually gets loud for two things: goals and fights. However, during key games (usually only playoff games deep into a long run), the building can still shake a bit. The atmosphere that was present during the 2006 Memorial Cup reached levels of atmosphere and unbridled fandom never seen - some might also say never thought of - before or since.

Though it is getting up in years, the Coliseum still serves its purpose and will always be home to a huge piece of Moncton's hockey history. It has witnessed a QMJHL President's Cup Championship and Memorial Cup tournament (2006 Moncton Wildcats), an AHL Calder Cup championship (1982 New Brunswick Hawks), a CIS men's university hockey championship (1982 Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus), two additional University Cup tournaments, a national midget AAA championship tournament and countless NHL exhibitions (one of the most memorable being Evgeni Malkin's debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006). No matter what the future holds for the main hockey facility in the Hub City, you cannot take away the memories forged in the unassuming looking building on Killam Drive.

Future Developments

The city of Moncton gave the green light in 2014 to building a new, 7,500 seat arena downtown where the Wildcats would be the primary tenant. Ground has been broken, and the new arena is expected to open for the start of the 2018-19 season. Renderings can be seen on CTV Atlantic's website.

How To Get There

From the TCH: Exit at #446, Christie Rd./Berry Mills Rd. Proceed east into town. When you hit the overpass at NB-15 (Wheeler Dr.), Berry Mills becomes Killam Drive. The arena will be on your left.

From NB-15: Exit at Killam Dr. and proceed east. The arena will be on your left.
Inside Moncton Coliseum
Moncton Coliseum
Franchise History
With the addition of the Halifax Mooseheads being a major success story for the QMJHL, the league in 1995 was eager to move into other former AHL markets in the Maritimes. Much like the Mooseheads, the Moncton Alpines were named for a brewery. Unlike the Mooseheads, they were a disaster, and many expected them to fold after only one year of operation. Instead, the team was bought by oil baron Robert K Irving, who built them into one of the powerhouses of the league. The team was renamed to the Wildcats for the 1996-97 season, as Irving wanted to give his team a fresh start and distance it from the disastrous first year.
Retired Numbers
None
Local Rivals
As the Hub of the Maritimes, Moncton is a short distance away from pretty much every other QMJHL team in the Atlantic provinces, but the rivalries with Bathurst, Halifax and PEI are all pretty good ones. The Sea Dogs should over time develop into more of a rival as well.

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 2002-10.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: February 7, 2010