Moncton Wildcats

Arena Name: Moncton Coliseum
Capacity: 7,200 (6,554 seated)
Built: 1973
Last Game: 2018
Address: 377 Killam Drive, Moncton, NB, E1C 3T1
Telephone No: (506) 857-4100
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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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.

It took eleven years, my brother moving to New Brunswick, and the pending closure of the Coliseum in anticipation of the city's new downtown arena opening for the 2018-19 season, but I did, finally, get back to see a Wildcats game at the Coliseum. I'm very glad I did, too. While no one would compare the Coliseum to the multitude of sparkling new palaces throughout junior hockey, or the ancient temples like Windsor Arena or the Jacques Plante Arena in Shawinigan, the Coliseum is a truly unique building that exemplifies its era - the early 1970's - as well as any I've been to.

The Coliseum sits on empty industrial land on the outskirts of town, near the highway. It's surrounded by parking lots, and on game day, shockingly, they're free! The building is a low-slung brown brick building with an enormous sloping brown roof that is the rink's defining architectural feature. On the gameday I visited, the roof was covered in hundreds of seagulls. The arena is also built mostly underground, so from the outside, the Coliseum could be any community rink in Canada. It's only once inside that the building opens up.

Once inside the main door, the arena sits to the right of the lobby, while the Moncton Agrena, the largest trade show facility in Atlantic Canada, is on the left. The arena door opens to a top concourse ringing blue seats that surround the ice surface. On one side of the building, a second deck ascends to the heavens. The team doesn't sell seats in the first few rows of the upper level, which is great given that the views from them would be blocked all game long by people walking by. The concourse is small and cramped on three sides, but opens on the fourth side, with a huge hallway spanned by concessions and marked by purple and blue neon. It's a little odd that all the concessions and restrooms are located on one side of the ice, but it works somehow, and the only concession that I saw lined up was the full-service Tim Hortons location inside the rink. There's also a tiny team store tucked into one corner of the building.

The seats in the lower ring are all relatively new plastic, while the ones in the upper level are still original wood. And as a tall person, let me say that the older ones are far superior. They were designed with the Coliseum's legroom allotment in mind, so that the upper level seats, mounted closer to the wall than the lower level ones, have a good three inches more leg room. It's a good example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Another thing I'm glad wasn't "fixed" over the years is a massive hand-operated scoreboard in one end showing the current QMJHL standings and Wildcats scoring leaders - I don't envy the person having to climb a ladder daily to update it, but it's an absolutely fabulous addition to the building. History is well on display too, with past team photos, a large history and trophy case near the team store, and all of the city's banners from its AHL days still hanging in the rafters.

Game presentation is pretty unremarkable. It's not too loud or too quiet, the sound system is fine, and so is the announcer. Moncton is Canada's largest fluently bilingual city after Montreal, and the English and French announcements and crowd chatter fit, somehow. Bathurst is very French but with English accepted, Saint John is the opposite. But Moncton is functionally and uncomplainingly bilingual, and it makes for an interesting and warm atmosphere, even though the crowd noise levels at the Coliseum aren't spectacular.

The Coliseum is as much a building of its era as any other in any league. It hasn't been maintained particularly well. It apparently gets very hot and humid on warm days, and cold on cold ones. The building is very poorly lit, reminding me of the old London Gardens. Those two are the only ones I've ever been in with visible shadows on the ice surface. The architecture is undistinguished, the crowd bottlenecks easily in many places, the wall of seats makes it difficult to stage concerts in spite of the reasonably high capacity. It screams 1970's in every way. And yet, I loved the Coliseum completely and unconditionally. Someday, another forty years down the road, we'll look back on the architecture of the 1970's the way we look back on the 1930's today, and the buildings like the Coliseum, when they're saved, will be venerated for their quirks. So many new buildings are soulless and unimaginative, and the Coliseum isn't. It's as 70's as shag carpet and crippling stagflation, and I'm so glad I got to see it before it's gone.

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.
Inside Moncton Coliseum
Moncton Coliseum

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.

There's tons of free parking on site.
Inside Moncton Coliseum
Moncton Coliseum
What's It Used For Today?
The Moncton Coliseum complex includes a trade show facility in the same building, and with the arena now closed, the city of Moncton is spending money to renovate the space to expand the convention centre. The city is projecting that the Coliseum has at least 25 more years of life left in it, but it remains to be seen whether the arena bowl will be preserved or if the it will be demolished to facilitate more efficient use of the trade show space.

Or, to rephrase, the RV's won in the end.


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 2002-18.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 17, 2018