The Art Deco Stade Louis-Philippe Gaucher stands on the city fairgrounds of St-Hyacinthe, surrounded by parking lots and other fair-related buildings. It is an outstanding example of Depression-era arena architecture, with bas-relief sculptures of working men set in the yellow brick facade. The arena has a new entranceway with ticket windows, but once you step inside the main arena bowl, there are very few signs that it's no longer 1937. There is a new centre scoreclock in place, but otherwise the arena is a brightly-painted melange of coloured wooden seats, support columns, and other antique touches.
Six rows of seats surround the arena bowl, painted in two rows each of red, yellow and blue. Banners hang in one end, commemorating the town's hockey history, and include one banner from the Laser era indicating the retirement of Martin Brodeur's number. The roof is wood, and the coolest touch sits in one end of the rink - an ancient streamline moderne neon Coca-Cola sign. The other unusual thing you notice about the Stade L.P. Gaucher is the outstanding use of wood. Nearly every part of the arena's structure is made of creaky painted wood, and it gives you the feeling, to steal a phrase from the incomparable Simon Inglis, like you're watching hockey from the cockpit of a Sopwith Camel.
It seems unlikely that St-Hyacinthe will ever get another chance at the QMJHL - it was a product of its era, as the Q spent the 1980's trying desperately to expand to new markets small and smaller while staying within the province of Quebec. But still, the arena is a pretty one, and is well worth the short detour off the Autoroute if you're in the area.
Inside Stade L.P. Gaucher
What's the Arena Used for Today?
The Stade L.P. Gaucher is still going strong as the main arena for St-Hyacinthe, though as far as I can tell there is no longer any major tenant.
1 Martin Brodeur
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