The Bell Centre, formerly known as the Molson Centre, is a sports and entertainment complex in Montreal
. It opened on March 16, 1996 after nearly three years under construction. It is best known as the home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team.
It is currently owned by a partnership group headed by Geoff Molson and his brothers, Andrew and Justin. The same ownership group also owns the Montreal Canadiens and Evenko, an entertainment event promoter.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.In 2008, it was the 6th busiest arena in the world based on ticket sales for non-sporting events.
The building covers an area of 1.568 hectares or 3.87 acres (15,680 square metres or 168,778 square feet). 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.
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 scoreboard was installed prior of the 2008-2009 season. The new scoreboard is the biggest in the NHL.It is one of only two NHL arenas that uses an old-style siren to mark the end of periods instead of a horn: the other is TD Garden in Boston.
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 200 section, known as the "Club Desjardins" (named for Desjardins Group), and the upper 300-400 section.The Club Desjardins section 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.
After some early complaints of a generic feel, especially compared to the Forum, the Canadiens started to incrementally decorate the building with celebrations of the team's history, including a ring of players around the top level of seating. The Molson Ex Zone features a live band stage and its own red theme.
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 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