Ottawa Civic Centre

The Ottawa Civic Centre, also known as the Rona Centre for 2010–2011, is an indoor arena located in Ottawa, Ontario, seating 9,862. With temporary seating and standing room it can hold 10,585. Opened in December 1967, it is used primarily for sports, including curling, figure skating, ice hockey and lacrosse. The arena has hosted Canadian and world championships in figure skating and ice hockey, including the first women's world ice hockey championship in 1990. Canadian championships in curling have also been hosted at the arena. The arena is also used for concerts, conventions and Ottawa SuperEX events and exhibits.


The arena is the current home of the Ottawa 67's of the OHL. It is the former home of the Ottawa Senators of the NHL (1992–1995), the Ottawa Nationals of the WHA (1972–1973), the Ottawa Civics of the WHA (1976), and the Ottawa Rebel of the NLL (2002–2003).


It was renamed the Urbandale Centre in 2009 after Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ottawa 67's invited bids of $1,000 each to brand the then Civic Centre. Urbandale Construction had been a long-time sponsor of the 67's. For 2010–2011, the 67's renamed the centre the Rona Centre. The building, owned by the City of Ottawa, is officially known as the Civic Centre.


Construction

In the 1960s, the City of Ottawa was preparing to rebuild the football stadium at Lansdowne Park, on Bank Street at the Rideau Canal. During the planning phase, the old Ottawa Auditorium arena was demolished and the City now needed two new sports venues. The City combined plans and the Civic Centre arena was built together with the north grandstand of the football stadium. The combination has meant that the arena is rather oddly shaped, one side of the arena is actually located beneath the upper part of the stadium grandstand, with the result that it has a much lower ceiling than the opposite side of the arena.


Dominion Bridge was the supplier of the huge steel girders for the arena and stadium's frame, some so large they had to be brought to the site by barge, up the Ottawa River and down the Rideau Canal. According to Dominion Bridge "the most striking feature of the unique design concept is a giant overhanging roof reaching out 170 degrees from atop eight massive steel A-frames."


It opened on December 29, 1967, though seating was not complete, for an Ottawa 67's game versus the Montreal Junior Canadiens. Seats were taken temporarily from the Coliseum building nearby. The football stadium and arena complex was Ottawa's official "Centennial Project." Federal government grant money depended on the facility opening in 1967, and construction was rushed to meet the deadline.


The arena was renovated and seating increased in 1992 in order to temporarily accommodate the Ottawa Senators of the NHL. Luxury boxes were hung from the ceiling over 3/4 of the bowl and all seats except for the club seats were narrowed slightly in order to increase capacity to over 10,000. The seats were replaced in 2005 and wider seats were installed, thus reducing capacity to under 10,000 again.


Sports

Curling

The arena played host to the 1979, 1993 and 2001 Brier Canadian men's championships. It also played host to the 1990 Scott Tournament of Hearts Canadian women's championships.


Figure skating

The arena has hosted the World Figure Skating Championships in 1978, and 1984 and the World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2003. The arena has hosted the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in 1987, 1996, 1999 and 2006.


Both Worlds provided memorable moments in sports. In 1978 Vern Taylor performed the first 'Triple axel' jump in competition. In 1984, the Canadian pairs champions Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini won the Championship in dramatic fashion:


Ice hockey

The primary tenant since the building's opening has been the Ottawa 67s junior men's team. The arena's seating capacity is large by junior standards. The team played before large crowds in the 1960s and 1970s but attendance started to drop in the late 80s and bottomed out after the arrival of the Ottawa Senators in the early 1990s. In 1998 the team was bought by local businessman Jeff Hunt and he successfully improved attendance to take advantage of the large capacity of the Civic Centre. Since then, the 67's have been one of the top-10 junior teams in Canada in terms of attendance, often finishing #1 on the list. The club has also been successful on the ice, winning the OHL Championship in 1977, 1984, and 2001 and the Memorial Cup championship in 1984 and 1999. The 1972 and 1999 tournaments were played at the Civic Centre, and the 1999 tournament was won by the host 67s.


In the 1970s, the arena was home to two WHA professional teams, the Ottawa Nationals and Ottawa Civics. Both did not survive in Ottawa for more than a season. The Nationals played for one regular season, but played their playoffs in Toronto and moved to Toronto to become the Toros. The Civics were a transplanted Denver Spurs team that played half a season in Ottawa before disbanding.


The arena hosted the first ever Canada Cup hockey game on September 2, 1976, when Canada crushed Finland 11-2. They also hosted games in the 1981 Canada Cup.


The arena was the site of the first IIHF Women's World Ice Hockey Championships in 1990. Canada defeated the United States 5–2 on March 25, 1990 to win the gold medal.


Starting in 1992, the revived Ottawa Senators NHL franchise used the arena for three and a half seasons. For the start of the 1992–93 season, the arena was refurbished for the Senators, adding seats and 32 private boxes.


In 2008 and 2009, the arena was used for games of the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.


Lacrosse

The arena was the home for the Ottawa Rebel of the National Lacrosse League for one and a half seasons.


Pro Wrestling

The World Wrestling Federation used the arena for its shows in Ottawa until Scotiabank Place was built. At a 1991 Superstars of Wrestling taping, Ric Flair made his WWF television debut.


Non-sports usage

The first major event hosted in the arena was the Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention in April 1968, when Pierre Trudeau was named Canadian Prime Minister.


Annually in August, the Central Canada Exhibition, aka 'Ottawa SuperEx' uses the arena for concerts and exhibits.


References & notes

Media

2 photos

Building Activity

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