Richmond Arena ranks as Ottawa's coldest rink

From bundled up to balmy, where does your local Ottawa rink measure up in terms of its temperature? Is it the warmest or coldest?

West-end rink takes crown as most frigid of Ottawa's 50 indoor ice sheets

The Richmond Arena had the two coldest temperature readings when CBC News visited the night of Dec. 16, -4 C rinkside and -3.5 C at the top of the stands. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

From bundled up to balmy, where does your local Ottawa rink measure up in terms of its temperature?

CBC News visited 50 arenas in 36 buildings over a span of seven days in mid-to-late December to find out.

A youth hockey team practises on a warmer day (3.2 C) at the Richmond Arena on Dec. 29, 2013. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The coldest rink found during our testing period is part of the fairgrounds of a southwestern Ottawa community.

The Richmond Arena on Perth Street came in at -4 C at rink side and -3.5 C at the top of the stands. It was the result of a perfect storm of an empty, older building with heaters turned off and a temperature of -21 C outside the night of Dec. 16.

At the other end of the spectrum, fans way up at the top of the stands in the Steve Yzerman Arena  at the Nepean Sportsplex can watch a hockey game at 13.5 C, a 17.5 degree difference from fans in Richmond.

Layer up to ward off the shivers

Many hockey parents said the key to keeping warm in a colder rink is a simple one: wear layers.

"Blankets, sweaters, hoodies, jacket, mitts … you kind of expect it," said Cheryl Gault, a hockey mom looking on at the Richmond Arena.

"You know you're going to a practice or a game and you're going to be in the rink for an hour and a half, maybe two hours. So you plan for the cold."

Two others took the opportunity to share tales of their coldest rink experience ever:

  • (Dec. 14-15) the coldest arena in the whole city was for sure Blackburn Hamlet's, it was about to snow in there it was so cold. It was terrible. Parents couldn't even watch the hockey game — they had to step outside. Some of the kids were saying it was so cold they couldn't feel their feet. - Trish McDonough.
  • We were out of town, I guess in Cardinal, Ont., and it was warmer opening the doors (to the outside) than being rink-side. The rink was that cold. - Costa Hatzis.
  • As a kid, the coaches would suggest we wear tuques and gloves underneath our equipment (at the Belltown Dome). Going to practice on a Sunday morning … it was unbelievable how cold this rink was. - Andrew Burnett-Bartleman.

One arena manager who spoke to CBC News said most of the city's rinks turn on their heaters by request in order to conserve energy and money.

Some other arenas have push-button systems where fans can turn on the heaters on their own.

Where are those 50 arenas

Mobile users click here to see full temperature data in a map of Ottawa's rinks.

How we did it

CBC News took a digital thermometer, accurate to a tenth of a degree Celsius, to each of the indoor rinks listed on the City of Ottawa's website from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Dec. 16 to 23.

This is the thermometer used to record temperatures throughout the project, seen here measuring at the Peplinski Arena. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The Kinburn Sensplex, Bell Sensplex and Minto Skating Club, which was tested during the Bell Capital Cup the morning of Dec. 29, were also included. The Ottawa Civic Centre (under renovation), plus arenas at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and the Canadian Tire Centre were not included.

Our reporter would take two readings, one at the top row of stands between the blue-lines and another while standing in a corner next to the ice.

Once it stabilized, the inside temperature would be noted along with the outside temperature and whether the heaters were on or even existed.

Whenever possible, the readings were taken while not standing directly underneath a heater.

"Rink-side" data was not applicable when areas next to the ice were reserved for players and coaches. "Stand" data was not applicable when the arena generally serves as a practice rink with no seating.

CBC News acknowledges the existence of variables such as number of people in the stands creating body heat and the outside temperature.

These results are not scientific and are intended to give a general snapshot of what city arenas can be the coldest or warmest.

10 coldest places to watch a hockey game in Ottawa:

  1. Rink-side at the Richmond Arena: -4 C
  2. Top of the stands at the Richmond Arena: -3.5 C
  3. Rink-side at the Blackburn Arena: -2.6 C
  4. Rink-side at the Johnny Leroux Stittsville Community Arena: -2.5 C
  5. Rink-side at the Tom Brown Arena: -1.7 C
  6. Top of the stands at the Tom Brown Arena: -1.6 C
  7. Top of the stands at the Blackburn Arena: -1.5 C
  8. Rink-side at the Belltown Dome: -1 C
  9. Rink-side at the Fred Barrett Arena main rink: -1 C
  10. Rink-side at the Bell Centennial Arena: -0.6 C

10 warmest places to watch a hockey game in Ottawa:

  1. Top of the stands at the Steve Yzerman Arena (Nepean Sportsplex): 13.5 C
  2. Top of the stands at the Howard Darwin Centennial Arena: 9.9 C
  3. Top of the stands at the Minto Skating Club arena 2: 9.1 C
  4. Top of the stands at the Roger Sénécal Arena (Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex): 7.9 C
  5. Top of the stands at the Nepean Sportsplex arena 3: 7.8 C
  6. ​Top of the stands at the Minto Skating Club Don Jackson Arena: 7.6 C
  7. Top of the stands at the Jack May GMC Arena (Walter Baker Sports Centre): 7.4 C
  8. Top of the stands at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex rink 2: 7.2 C
  9. Rinkside at the Nepean Sportsplex arena 3: 7.1 C
  10. Rinkside at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex rink 2: 6.9 C

By the numbers

  • 50: Ice sheets visited.
  • 36: Buildings holding those ice sheets.
  • 3.61: Average temperature (Celsius) for sitting in the top row of seats between the blue-lines.
  • 2.01: Average temperature for standing rink-side.
  • 17.5: Temperature difference between the coldest and warmest places to watch a hockey game in Ottawa.
  • 5: Number of arenas/ice sheets named after former NHLers (Fred Barrett, Brian Kilrea, Jim Peplinski, Larry Robinson, Steve Yzerman).
  • 26: Rows of seats at the Steve Yzerman Arena, temperature taken at the very top.
  • 11.4: Temperature taken eight rows up at the Steve Yzerman Arena, which would still be the warmest reading.
  • 13.5: Temperature recorded at the top of the Steve Yzerman Arena stands, which was just about the temperature (13 C) in Gibraltar, Taipei, Jackson, Miss. and Las Vegas at 2:30 p.m. ET.
  • 3.4: Temperature difference between sitting under a heater at the Bernard-Grandmaitre Arena (7.5 C) and in a corner away from a heater (4.1 C).
  • 75 kilometres: Distance between the Kinburn arena to the arena in Cumberland, according to Google Maps.
  • 54 minutes: Amount of time Google Maps says it would take to drive from Kinburn to Cumberland (with no traffic).


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