Pro Sports Stadium Review: Bell Centre

The Montreal Canadiens are one of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) founding franchises and one of its most successful teams, as well. Often referred to as The New York Yankees of professional hockey, this squad has won many Stanley Cups and its history is filled with the names of seemingly countless all time great players.

The team currently plays its home games in Bell Centre, a downtown Montreal arena that opened in 1996.This conveniently-located venue has been known by several other names in the nearly twenty years that it has existed.

Graphic via free-stock-illustration

Back in its first year, Bell Centre was known as the New Montreal Forum. When the building opened that same year, the name was changed to Molson Centre. The Molson family, specifically three brothers that are also in the business of brewing beer, own the arena and the team that plays in it.

Bell Centre is a multi-purpose sports arena with a seating capacity for hockey of 21,287. And, while the Canadiens are the primary tenant, other sporting and entertainment events take place in it.

For instance, 22,114 fans can watch NBA players leap over rims and college players give everything they have from the opening tap until the game’s final play.

Fifteen thousand music fans can enjoy a concert in this arena while nearly that many people, 12,000 to 14,000 music lovers, can get a seat and an unobstructed view of the stage when the Bell Centre is converted into an amphitheatre.

Hemicycle racing is popular in Montreal and that event can draw a capacity crowd when it takes place. A full house is only two thousand people, but the excitement they get continues unabated until they leave and go home.

There have been many notable events at Bell Centre and at Molson Centre before it. They include the 1996 finals of the World Cup of Hockey, an event in which the United States squad toppled the home team Canadians in two consecutive games.

The 2009 NHL All Star Game had the league’s best players skating up and down on Bell Centre ice. And in 2010 the National Basketball Association finally discovered this great sports destination and staged three pre-season games in it.

As is the case in many arenas in North America, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) stages some of its most popular events in this north-of-the-border location.

And, as might be expected, there have been many concerts in the past nineteen years with such top-name performers as Celine Dion , Paul McCartney and others.

With so much going for it and with a great hockey team playing its home games before sold out crowds, there is every reason to believe that Montreal’s Bell Centre will continue to be a gathering place for those who love sports and music for years to come.

Graphic via montrealgazette


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