Phoenix

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: Navy Blue, Baby Blue & Cream
Official Web Site: HockeyPhoenix.ca

QMJHL

 Palais des Sports

Palais des Sports

 What's the Arena Like?

Yet to Visit for a Game

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.

From pictures, it appears that the arena has changed a fair bit since the Phoenix came to town, and I am looking forward to seeing a game there sometime soon.

 Inside Palais des Sports

Palais des Sports

 Future Developments
There are no plans to renovate or replace the Palais des Sports.

 Franchise History
Technically speaking, the Phoenix franchise was granted as an expansion team in 2012. In reality if not in law, the Lewiston Maineiacs folded in 2011, all their players were sent around the QMJHL in a dispersal draft, and one season later, the dormant franchise was reactivated. If you consider the Phoenix as a continuation of the Lewiston franchise, their history goes back to the Q's founding, playing in Trois-Rivières as the Ducs and Draveurs from 1969 to 1992, and Sherbrooke (in the same arena!) as the Castors between 1992 and 2003.

 Retired Numbers
None

 Feedback
If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at Email and I'll update the guide.


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Last Revised: December 3, 2019