Wednesday, December 01, 2004

tour: MTS Centre (new hockey arena)

Today, a few of us from work attended a document centre presentation hosted by IKON. They fed us lunch in the exclusive restaurant for box suite owners in the new MTS Centre. Following that event, we were led on a tour of the new arena, which opended two weeks ago. Two years in the making, it truly is leaps and bounds better than the old barn in Polo Park.

Events that have already taken place include:
The opening night gala with Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Chantal Kreviazuk and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 16
David Copperfield - Nov. 21
The Tragically Hip - Nov. 23
Rod Stewart plays here March 18, 2005.
34th Annual Juno awards Sunday April 3rd (Broadcast on CTV)

The MTS Centre will host approximately 100 events a year, with 40 of them being Manitoba Moose hockey games.

I didn't realize that the front of the arena, with the beautifal glass walkway, is actually open to the public and constitutes part of the famous indoor walkway in the downtown area. You can walk from the Bay to Portage Place, to the MTS Centre. Winnipeggers love indoor walkways in the wintertime.

There are baffles on the ceiling to absorb sound, to reduces echoes. The private suites, of which there are 50, are not glassed in enclosures. When you look at other arenas, these areas are typically glassed off. Glass reflects sound. The MTS Centre looks like it will be a great place to take in a concert. I took in a Sarah Brightman concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (their new arena) and the experience was more concert hall-like than arena-like.

The ice surface is actually 20 feet below street level. You get a sensation that the building is too small from the outside, but it's an illusion.

Some quick facts:
* Site dimensions 300' x 490' (147,000 sq. ft.)
* Building Footprint 131,000 sq. ft.
* Interior Area (all levels) 440,000 sq. ft.
* Club Seats 936 seats
* Lower Bowl 8812 seats
(includes private suites, party suites and club seats)
* Upper Bowl 6203 seats
* Private Suites 1032 in 46 suites
* Party Suites 88 seats in 2 suites
* Centre-Stage Concerts 16,345
* End-Stage Concerts 16,170
* Hockey/Curling 15,015
* Rodeo/Motocross 13,198
* Concert Bowl 2,200 to 8,097
* Women's 15
* Men's 12
* Main Concourse 6
* Upper Concourse 6
* Main Concourse 8
* Upper Concourse 15
* Four (connecting Portage Place, City Place, Somerset Building
and The Power House)
* November 16, 2004

Taxpayers contributed $40.5 million towards the total cost of $133.5 million, so you're a Canadian, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You helped pay for it.

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