Bell Centre Details
Formerly known as the Molson Centre (or Le Centre Molson for French speakers), Montreal's Bell Centre has been the home of Canadiens hockey since opening in 1996. It replaced the old Montreal Forum, which stood since 1924 and was one of the most historically significant buildings in Canada's hockey history. The Bell Centre is an impressive arena in its own right and, seating more than 21,273, it's the largest venue to be regularly used by an NHL team in North America. It covers over 3.5 acres.
Right downtown, the Bell Centre is an important part of life in Montreal and one of the busiest arenas in the world. It regularly draws the biggest annual crowds of any Canadian arena, and in 2012 it was named the 5th busiest arena in the world for non-sports ticket sales with over 600,000 tickets sold.
Of course, the biggest draw is Montreal Canadiens games, which consistently sell out. Notably, for the 7th game in the NHL playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, all seats sold out with 45 minutes of becoming available. That game is also famous for the sheer level of noise created by Canadiens fans -- allegedly reaching over 135 decibels after goals.
Bell Centre hosts other sports on a less regular basis. The venue has held a few preseason NBA basketball games, usually featuring the Toronto Raptors. Interestingly, the Bell Centre was the home of the first ever UFC event to take place in Canada -- UFC 83 in 2008. Since then, the venue has seen a few more UFC events, and it regularly hosts WWE wrestling events as well.
As a concert and entertainment venue, the Bell Centre has welcomed acts as diverse as Kanye West, Iron Maiden, Lady Gaga, Tom Petty, and Celine Dion. Dion set a record at the arena, selling out eleven shows within an hour. In the winter, the Bell Centre hosts an annual performance by Cirque du Soleil.
What are the best places to sit at the Bell Centre?
Seats at the Bell Centre are numbered in sections from 101-436, divided into three levels. At the bottom, the 100 level is sometimes called "the reds" for its red seats. The second level is reserved for club seats and suites. Finally, the upper level is numbered 300-400 and divides into three zones: white, grey, and blue, which reflect the colors of the seats.
If you're coming with kids, consider buying tickets in the Family Zone, which sits in the 400 level on the west end. On the other side of the 400 level, you'll find the Molson EX Fan Zone, which features live music and an upbeat atmosphere for those who want to party.
Bell Centre Tips and Tricks
Parking at the Bell Centre is cash-only and can range from $13 to $32 depending on the event. There are also a few restrictions on vehicles to consider. Pick-up trucks aren't allowed during hockey games, and cars with studded tires are never allowed. If you've got an electric vehicle, however, you're in luck -- there are charging terminal available in the Bell Centre parking lot.
Bell Centre Club Areas
Club Desjardins wraps all around the 200 level and offers a spectacular view from luxurious seating. In addition to great seating, you get complimentary food service, a private entrance, and access to the Club concourse with more upscale dining options and a business center as well. Among the Club-only restaurants, you'll find La Mise au Jeu, an elegant space with mahogany woodwork, original oil paintings, and an interactive pasta station where you can learn the secrets behind chefs' signature dishes.