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VIDEO: SPORTS CHAT: Ranking the Maritime QMJHL arenas from first to worst


ABOVE: The Avenir Centre, the most recently built QMJHL home arena in the Maritimes.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has six teams in the Maritimes, meaning there are six venues most fans know by heart.

The Avenir Centre is home to the Moncton Wildcats, while the Scotiabank Centre houses the Halifax Mooseheads and the Eastlink Centre is the venue for the Charlottetown Islanders.

Meanwhile, the Saint John Sea Dogs call the newly named TD Station their home and the K.C. Irving Regional Centre is the venue for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Centre 200 is home to the Cape Breton Eagles.

Having been to all six venues, it wasn't difficult to rank them in terms of fan atmosphere, parking, food and the venue itself.

Here's where each of the six venues ranked, as I see it:

1 - Avenir Centre, Moncton Wildcats

Avenir Centre in Moncton is the newest sports and entertainment venue in the Maritimes and was opened in 2018 at a cost of $104.2 million in the city's downtown core. Aside from the fact its new, the atmosphere inside the venue during hockey is one of the best in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. - Jeremy Fraser
Avenir Centre in Moncton is the newest sports and entertainment venue in the Maritimes and was opened in 2018 at a cost of $104.2 million in the city's downtown core. Aside from the fact its new, the atmosphere inside the venue during hockey is one of the best in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. - Jeremy Fraser

Charles-Antoine Lavallée of the Moncton Wildcats, left, makes a save against Cape Breton on his home turf. - Daniel St. Louis
Charles-Antoine Lavallée of the Moncton Wildcats, left, makes a save against Cape Breton on his home turf. - Daniel St. Louis

Being the newest of the six venues, there's really no surprise the Avenir Centre would top the Maritimes list.

When you walk into the $104.2-million venue, which opened in 2018 with the goal of replacing the Moncton Coliseum, you don't feel like you're walking into a rink. When you enter, there's an escalator which takes you to the concourse and seating area.

The concourse area of the 8,800-seat venue is wide with lots of space for spectators to walk without bumping into each other.

The employees are friendly and upbeat. There's lots of food and beverage options.

When it comes to the in-house atmosphere, it's hands down one of the better experiences across the league with multiple contests — almost one at every stoppage. 

The one issue with the venue is parking. It can be a challenge to find parking in downtown Moncton. However, there's no issue if you're willing to pay $10 to park in business parking lots nearby.

Don't be surprised if the Memorial Cup is played at this venue in the near future.

2 - Scotiabank Centre, Halifax Mooseheads

Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. - Contributed
Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. - Contributed

The Scotiabank Centre is 42 years old, but renovations have made sure it's a hospitable home for Mooseheads' fans. - File
The Scotiabank Centre is 42 years old, but renovations have made sure it's a hospitable home for Mooseheads' fans. - File

Formerly known as the Halifax Metro Centre, Scotiabank Centre was opened in February 1978, but with renovations and investments over the years, it remains one of the top venues in the Maritimes.

Located at the foot of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax, it is a great place to watch hockey, furthermore it is an outstanding venue for events in general.

Scotiabank Centre has a seating capacity of more than 10,500 and has hosted many big events, including the 2019 Memorial Cup last May. The atmosphere is good.

The venue has 47 skyboxes along with premium seating lounges and executive suites.

When it comes to food, there's plenty of options available. Want a King of Donair? No worries, there's a donair waiting for you in the concession area.

There's lots of options for parking in the downtown core if you're willing to walk and for the most part it isn't a big issue.

Being downtown also means it's not far from hotels and restaurants for pre-game or post-game activities.

3 - TD Station, Saint John Sea Dogs

TD Station in Saint John, N.B. - Contributed
TD Station in Saint John, N.B. - Contributed

TD Station has a very 'NHL' feel and layout. - File
TD Station has a very 'NHL' feel and layout. - File

A venue once known as Harbour Startion, the newly named TD Station has an NHL-style look to it with similarities when it comes to seating location — of course it doesn't hold as many spectators as an NHL venue.

TD Station is in the uptown area of Saint John and was first opened in 1993. It was renovated in 2005.

The venue seats 6,307 for hockey games, and 6,603 for basketball games. For other events, the seating capacity ranges from 1,400 to 8,100.

TD Station was once home to the American Hockey League's Saint John Flames.

The venue, which has decent food options, has 13 luxury skyboxes.

The atmosphere was great in the 2010s when the Sea Dogs had strong teams. It was an exciting place to visit during the playoffs.

As for parking, there is an on-site parking option which costs $4. The parking lot doesn't take long to be filled. There are also reserved parking spaces near the arena for "club members."

4 - Centre 200, Cape Breton Eagles (Sydney)

Centre 200 in downtown Sydney. - Contributed
Centre 200 in downtown Sydney. - Contributed

Centre 200 has performed admirably for decades, but is beginning to lag behind other Maritime Q venues. - File
Centre 200 has performed admirably for decades, but is beginning to lag behind other Maritime Q venues. - File

Centre 200, which is one of two venues in the Maritimes which doesn't have a title sponsored name (for the time being), opened in 1987 and was constructed on the former site of the old Sydney Forum in the downtown area.

The original vision for the venue was to have a large seating capacity, but funding issues led to a smaller venue than originally proposed.

Although the venue is showing its age, renovations have taken place over the years. Major renovations were announced in 2009 with financial help from the provincial and federal governments as well as the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which owns the venue.

The 2009 renovations included a new video scoreboard, 13 luxury boxes and new club seating. The renovations also increased the capacity to more than 5,000 for events.

More upgrades are needed to the venue when you compare it to other locations in the Maritimes.

The press box area is spacious and one of the biggest in the league, but depending where you sit, you may have to look around the beam structures.

For the average spectator, the canteen options are OK, however, the removal of pizza this year has been noticeable.

The in-house atmosphere can be better and some say there are steps being taken to make that happen.

One positive thing for spectators attending events, there's no charge for parking and there are lots of different options either on-site or near the venue.

5 - Eastlink Centre, Charlottetown Islanders

Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, P.E.I. - Facebook
Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, P.E.I. - Facebook

Seating used to be pretty poor at the Eastlink Centre, but renos have improved the layout. - File
Seating used to be pretty poor at the Eastlink Centre, but renos have improved the layout. - File

Formerly known as the Charlottetown Civic Centre, the Eastlink Centre opened in 1990 and was built as part of a large redevelopment of the Provincial Exhibition grounds in the Parkdale area.

The venue has a capacity of 3,718 overall (3,690 seated) and is located on the southern side of the famous Charlottetown Driving Park and Red Shore Casino.

The venue, which was renamed the Eastlink Centre in September 2013 after the City of Charlottetown sold the naming rights, was home to the American Hockey League's P.E.I. Senators from 1993-96.

Its current tenants include the Charlottetown Islanders and Island Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada.

The arena's seating was redesigned in 2003 following complaints from patrons and tenants. Additional seating was placed close to the glass area and luxury boxes were installed. There's only one level of seating.

The in-house atmosphere is OK.

There are several food options. It's always a bonus when you can have a Tim Hortons right inside the arena, which draws large lineups during intermissions.

There is parking available on site, however, there's a large parking lot also available off Park Street, which is a little piece away from the back of the Eastlink Centre, but it's free.

One downfall to the venue is the press box. It's extremely small and there's not much space. It does the job, but is by far one of the worst in the league.

6 - K.C. Irving Regional Centre, Bathurst Titans

K.C. Irving Regional Centre in Bathurst, N.B. - Contributed
K.C. Irving Regional Centre in Bathurst, N.B. - Contributed

Sightlines are poor at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre. - File
Sightlines are poor at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre. - File

The K.C. Irving Regional Centre is the second-newest arena in the Maritimes, opening in September 1996 at a cost of $21 million.

The venue, named in honour of bussinessman K.C. Irving, is the largest arena in northeastern New Brunswick and has only ever housed the Acadie-Bathurst Titan as a full-time tenant.

There is only one level of seating. The total capacity for hockey games is 3,524, seating about 3,162.

The arena has two rinks. One is used for the Titan, while the other for minor hockey. The venue has a number of canteen areas as well as a walking track.

It is owned by the City of Bathurst.

A number of events have been held at the venue over the years including the 2014 Subway Super Series, now known as the Canada Russia Series.

It's biggest drawback is limited viewing.

Jeremy Fraser covers sports for the Cape Breton Post. If you have a column idea, sports story or would like to give feedback about this week's Sports Chat, contact Jeremy by emailing jeremy.fraser@cbpost.com or follow @CBPost_Jeremy on Twitter.

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