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Centre Bell
Bell Center.svg
Centre Bell (2009).jpg
Former names Molson Centre, Centre Molson (1996–2002)
Location 1260 Canadiens-de-Montréal Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3B 5E8
Coordinates 45°29′46″N 73°34′10″W / 45.49611°N 73.56944°W / 45.49611; -73.56944Coordinates: 45°29′46″N 73°34′10″W / 45.49611°N 73.56944°W / 45.49611; -73.56944
Broke ground June 22, 1993
Opened March 16, 1996
Owner Molson family
Construction cost C$270 million
Architect Consortium of Quebec Architects
Capacity Ice hockey: 21,273
Theatre: 5,000 to 9,000
Full Capacity: 14,000 to 21,500
Hemicycle: 2,000 to 3,000
Basketball: 21,700
Tenants
Montreal Canadiens (NHL) (1996-present)
Montreal Impact (NPSL) (1997–2000)
Montreal Rocket (QMJHL) (2001–2003)
Montreal Express (NLL) (2002)

The Bell Centre (French: Le Centre Bell), formerly known as the Molson Centre (French: le Centre Molson), is a sports and entertainment complex in Montreal, Quebec. It has been the home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens hockey team since March 16, 1996, when they hosted the New York Rangers (a game which the Canadiens won 4–2). The team departed from the historic Montreal Forum after their last game on March 11 of the same year. Construction began on the site on June 22, 1993, 13 days after the Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings at the Forum for their 24th and most recent Stanley Cup. The name of the arena initially reflected Molson, Inc., a brewing company which was owner of the Canadiens at the time. Some members of Montreal sports media, namely Jack Todd, pushed for the nickname "The Keg" as fitting for the new arena but it was never widely adopted. Molson elected not to keep the naming rights when they sold the team and the name was officially changed on September 1, 2002, after Bell Canada acquired the naming rights.

Since it opened in 1996, it has consistently been listed as one of the world's busiest arenas, usually receiving the highest attendance of any arena in Canada.[1]

The Bell Centre is currently owned by a partnership group headed by Geoff Molson and his brothers, Andrew and Justin. The group also owns the Montreal Canadiens.[2]

Contents

Location

The Bell Centre is located in Downtown Montreal, on the corner of the avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal and De la Montagne street. It is easily accessible by public transportation, linked to both Lucien L'Allier and Bonaventure metro stations, as well as to the Greater Montreal commuter train network, Agence métropolitaine de transport. It is also connected to the underground city. The Bell Centre is well located due to its very close proximity to a vast array bars and restaurants.

Arena information

The building covers an area of 1.568 hectares (15,680 square metres, 168,778 sq. ft). It is located in downtown Montreal and is across the street from the 1250 René-Lévesque skyscraper and next door to Windsor station. It has a seating capacity of 21,273, making it the largest National Hockey League (NHL) arena. It also holds four restaurants, the most popular being La Cage aux Sports, which is one of the largest sports restaurants/bars in Montreal.[3]

Capacities of the Centre are:

The public address announcer for the Canadiens' games is Michel Lacroix, while Charles Prévost-Linton sings the national anthems.

A new Daktronics scoreboard was installed prior of the 2008-2009 season. The new scoreboard is the biggest in the NHL.

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Seating

The Bell Centre is arranged in a three-tier layout: The lower 100 section, commonly referred to as "the reds" since these seats are painted red, the 300 section rows AA-FF, also known as the white section, the middle part between the whites and the blue section is known as the grey section, also the 300 section, rows A-D and lastly, the 400 section is the blue section consisting of rows A-D.

The 200 section is known as Club Desjardins is between two levels of private and corporate boxes. However, tickets are sold for this section at a higher price than for seats closer to ice level because free food and non-alcoholic drinks are provided.

The ends of the 400 section are further divided into two more groups. At one end is the Molson Ex Zone, known to be the loudest section in the arena, and is commonly where chants begin. At the opposite end is the Family Zone, featuring lower ticket prices for children.

The grandstands rise very sharply, meaning that everyone has a great view, even if a tall spectator happens to be sitting in front of you.

Interior

The interior of the Bell Centre is themed heavily by the Montreal Canadiens. Team photographs from every season can be found throughout, as well as bronze busts of famous players.

Events

Inside the Bell Centre before a hockey game.

The final two games of the three-game 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship series were held at the Bell Centre (the USA won both games, defeating Canada in the series 2–1). The Bell Centre was also host to two pool games in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. The Bell Centre was the host of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and hosted the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

The Bell Centre has also held several WWE events, including the 1997 Survivor Series, where the infamous Montreal Screwjob took place, as well as other pay-per-views including 2003 No Way Out. The arena hosted Breaking Point on September 13, 2009.

The Bell Centre was the venue of the first UFC event (UFC 83) to take place in Canada on April 19, 2008. The show was headlined by a rematch between Welterweight champion Matt Serra and Montreal native Georges St-Pierre. The tickets available to the public sold out in under one minute, and the event set the all time UFC attendance record. The Bell Centre was also host to UFC 97 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on April 18, 2009 where the pound for pound king and Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva defended his belt against fellow Brazilian Thales Leites in a lackluster performance which was won by Anderson Silva via unanimous decision.

The Bell Centre is also the primary concert venue for major performances. Most shows put on by big acts visit the arena unless they require more room than is available in a hockey rink-sized facility; in which case the Olympic Stadium is used, or less frequently, Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Sell-outs

Concerts by Celine Dion for August 15 and 16, 2008 were sold out within six minutes. The next day, Dion's management added two more concert dates on August 18 and 20, 2008. A further seven dates were added bringing the total to 11 shows and 246,000 spectators. She set a record in the history of Canadian concerts when all eleven shows sold out within an hour. By her eleventh concert she would have played the Bell Centre 31 times since 1996 [4]. The Montreal concerts grossed just over $30 million, making it one of the biggest concert events held at any arena in the world.

Montreal Canadiens home games have been consistently sold out since January 2004[5]. Additionally, the Canadiens have among the top attendance figures in the NHL. For the 2008-2009 season, the Habs had the highest attendance played at there home Arena.

Retired jerseys

The following numbers have been retired by the Canadiens (positions in parentheses) and hang from the rafters:

While Lach and Henri Richard both wore the number 16, they were given separate banners unlike Cournoyer and Moore.

On October 18, 2005, the Canadiens also raised the following numbers on a single banner in honour of the former MLB team Montreal Expos, who left the city for Washington, D.C. after the 2004 season:

Gallery

External links

Preceded by
Montreal Forum
Home of the
Montreal Canadiens

1996 — present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Philips Arena
Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

2009
Succeeded by
jobing.com Arena

References


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