Like many Canadians, I like to get my fix of live ice hockey occasionally, and the place to do that in Vancouver is down at the Vancouver Canucks. It’s possible to get a taste of the local atmosphere at one of the downtown sports bars, where the games are frequently screened live, but when the Canucks are in town, a taste of the genuine article can be found down at Rogers Arena.
Rogers Arena was formerly known as General Motors Place, and when the stadium is close to its 19,000 capacity, you can get a proper feeling of what ice hockey means to Canadian sports fans. What is more, the stadium is easy to get to, and with the SkyTrain stop at Stadium-Chinatown station in the downtown area, it really isn’t necessary to use your own car to get there. The SkyTrain is my preference, but if you do drive, there is plenty of parking capacity within a few minutes of the stadium on foot.
Rogers Arena has a place in Olympic history as well as in Stanley Cup history, as both the men and the women won gold for Canada here in 2010. Stadium tours are available, which I think are a good way to get a feel for the stadium before going to see a game there. Tours last for about an hour and a quarter, in the late morning on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It isn’t necessary to book for a tour in advance, unless you’re planning to go with a large group, so the best plan is usually just to turn up in good time on the day. Wednesdays and Fridays are not usually game days, so unless there is a special event on, it is often possible to see the dressing rooms on the tours, too.
For the full flavor of the stadium, though, it is best to get to a game. The Canucks made a run to the Stanley Cup finals as recently as 2011, and there is a proud history of hockey surrounding the team and the stadium, so the atmosphere is almost certain to be special. Most games are scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends, with the full schedule available on the Canucks website. Tickets can be bought online or at the ticket center, which is next to Gate 10 at the stadium. If, like me, you try to get to places early, there are lots of decent spots to grab a bite to eat, and maybe a beer or two, ahead of the game. It is also worth checking out one of the options for dining while you watch, and the Center Ice Grill is open to ticket holders from two hours before the start of a game, for a view right over center ice. This is a prime spot for sports fans like me, as it is the only live-action sports restaurant in the city, so well worth a visit.