Sherbrooke Phoenix

Arena Name: Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet
Capacity: 5,332 (4,321 seated)
Built: 1965
Address: 360 rue Cegep, Sherbrooke, QC, J1E 2J9
Telephone: (819)560-8842
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Franchise Date: 2012-13
QMJHL Championships: None
Memorial Cup Championships: None
Colours: Royal Blue, Grey & White
Official Web Site:
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Palais des Sports
Palais des Sports
What's the Arena Like?
I visited the Palais des Sports in the fall of 2008, one of many former QMJHL arenas on the south shore that we hit on a day that started in Longueuil, ended in Shawinigan for a Cataractes game, and took us through Granby, Iberville, Sorel-Tracy, St-Hyacinthe and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Seeing all of those buildings in rapid succession meant that comparisons came naturally, and of all the old Q barns that we stopped in on that day, the Palais des Sports was by far the best. At the time, it was the largest arena in Canada not hosting a major junior or higher-level team, it had been maintained well, and Sherbrooke, apropos of nothing else, is a large and cosmopolitan city compared to many of the small towns that make up even the modern Q.

That, plus Sherbrooke has a long history with the QMJHL. 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.

So it was with a certain amount of confidence that I stated at the time that "one has to think that the Q might someday return to Sherbrooke." It took a few more years and a convoluted scheme which involved folding the Maineiacs and re-establishing them a year later, but as of the fall of 2012, the Q is back in the Eastern Townships. A $4 million renovation welcomes the new team, and I'm told that the old building has been given a second lease on life.

The 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, in red, blue and yellow seats that 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 was no centre clock when I visited, but a new video board was part of the renovations that welcomed the Phoenix to town.

While my enthusiasm to drive ten hours to watch an expansion team play in 2012-13 is not particularly high, I must say that I'm looking forward to someday going to a game there once the team has a few years to improve and settle in. The Palais was a great building when I visited; $4 million later I'd bet it's among the class of the league.
Future Developments
The Palais des Sports was given a massive makeover in 2011-12 in anticipation of the new team's arrival. All of the seats were replaced and luxury boxes were installed.
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.
Inside the Palais des Sports
Palais des Sports
Retired Numbers
Local Rivals
As one of the QMJHL's old time cities, Sherbrooke really isn't "expansion" in the way that new teams often are, at least from a fan's perspective. One assumes that the Phoenix will pick up the rivalries of the old Castors, those being primarily Drummondville, Victoriaville, Quebec and Shawinigan.
Franchise History
Technically speaking, the Phoenix franchise was granted as an expansion team in 2012. In reality if not in law, they are effectively a reactivation of Sherbrooke's last team, the Castors, late of Lewiston, Maine.
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 2002-12.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 30, 2012