|Former names||New Montreal Forum (pre-construction–1996), Molson Centre, Centre Molson (1996–2002)|
|Location||1909 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal, Montreal, Quebec H4B 5G0|
Amphitheatre: 10,000 to 14,000
Theatre: 5,000 to 9,000
Hemicycle: 2,000 to 3,500
MMA: 16,000 to 23,152
|Field size||780,000 square feet (72,000 m2)|
|Broke ground||June 22, 1993|
|Opened||March 16, 1996|
|Construction cost||C$270 million
($374 million in 2015 dollars)
|Architect||LeMay & Associate, LLC.
LeMoyne Lapointe Magne
|Project manager||IBI/DAA Group|
|General contractor||Huber, Hunt & Nichols|
|Montreal Canadiens (NHL) (1996–present)
Montreal Impact (NPSL) (1997–2000)
Montreal Rocket (QMJHL) (2001–2003)
Montreal Express (NLL) (2002)
The Bell Centre (French: Centre Bell), formerly known as the Molson Centre or Le Centre Molson, is a sports and entertainment complex in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 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 2012, it was the fifth-busiest arena in the world based on ticket sales for non-sporting events.
Construction began on the site on June 22, 1993, almost two weeks 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. 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.
The Bell Centre is located in downtown Montreal, near the corner of Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal (formerly Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest) and René Lévesque Boulevard. The Lucien L'Allier station, to which it is connected, is next door on that corner. In addition it is located across the street from the 1250 René-Lévesque skyscraper. It is easily accessible by public transportation, as it is linked to both Lucien L'Allier and Bonaventure Metro stations. It is also connected to the underground city and Central Station. The Bell Centre is well located due to its very close proximity to a vast array of bars and restaurants.
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 21,287, making it the largest hockey arena in the world. It also holds four restaurants, the most popular being La Cage aux Sports, which is one of the largest sports restaurants/bars in Montreal.
- Arena (hockey): 21,287
- Arena (basketball): 22,114
- Concerts: 15,000
- Amphitheatre: 10,000–14,000
- Theatre: 5,000–9,000
- Hemicycle: 2,000–3,500
The public address announcer for the Canadiens' games is Michel Lacroix, while the national anthem singer alternates every home game as they do not have a regular singer since Charles Prevost-Linton abruptly left at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Madame Diane Bibeau plays the organ on Saturday nights.
A new scoreboard was installed prior of the 2008-2009 season. The new scoreboard consist of four 510 square foot video panels. It was the biggest in the NHL until 2012 when Tampa Bay installed their new scoreboard.
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. Each siren was inherited from each arena's predecessor facility in each case: the Bell Centre's coming from the disused Montreal Forum, and TD Garden's from the Boston Garden.
Unlike most North American arenas, which have generally been designed by Populous and its predecessors, the Bell Centre was designed by a local consortium, and has many unique design features. The grandstands are sloped steeply, to improve sight lines. Washrooms on the 100 level are centralized on a specific lower level located at each end.
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 premium section between two levels of private and corporate boxes. Larger seats and free food and non-alcoholic drinks are provided.
The 300-400 section is divided into three zones by seat colour: white section rows AA-FF, the grey section rows A-D, and the blue section, labelled "400," and consists of rows A-D. The ends of the 400 section are further divided into two more groups. At one end is the Coors Light Zone, featuring section cheerleaders and a band playing in the hallway. At the opposite end is the Family Zone, featuring child-specific ticket prices and limited alcohol.
Seats behind the press gondola, in Sections 318, 319, and 320, feature their own scoreboards on the back of the gondola, due to the normal scoreboard being blocked.
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 was the host of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and hosted the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The Bell Centre was the venue of the first UFC event (UFC 83) to take place in Canada, held in April 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, at that time (since surpassed by UFC 129 in Toronto). Other UFC events have subsequently been held at the Bell Centre, including UFC 97, UFC 113, UFC 124, UFC 154 and UFC 158, the most recent three of which were headlined by St-Pierre.
The Bell Centre hosted an NBA basketball game for the first time on Friday October 22, 2010, a preseason game featuring the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks. Another preseason game, featuring the same teams, was held on October 19, 2012. On October 20, 2013, the Bell Centre hosted their third preseason game featuring the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Another Toronto/NY preseason game was held at the arena on October 24th, 2014.
It has also hosted WWE events regularly and in recent years has boasted one of the loudest crowds in WWE. The most infamous event that took place at the arena was Survivor Series 1997, during which the well-known Montreal Screwjob incident occurred. It also hosted No Way Out in 2003 and Breaking Point in 2009. It was during an episode of Raw in 2012, Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack during the broadcast.
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.
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 played the Bell Centre 31 times since 1996. The Montreal concerts grossed just over $30 million, making it one of the biggest arena concert events in history.
Montreal Canadiens home games have been consistently sold out since January 2004. Additionally, the Canadiens have among the top attendance figures in the NHL. For the 2009-2010 season, the Habs had the highest attendance played at their home arena. All 21,273 seats were sold in 45 minutes on May 12, 2010 for fans to watch the 7th game in the playoff series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, which was shown on the big screens. Noise levels in the arena allegedly reached as high as 135 dB when goals were scored by the Canadiens, most notably, during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, during Game #6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 10, 2010, making it one of the loudest NHL arenas during hockey games.
On December 9th 2014, the Canadiens hosted the Vancouver Canucks, the first home game since the death of Jean Beliveau. The game was preceded by a memorial tribute to him. The Bell Centre remained sold-out that night with 21,286 fans in attendance and one empty seat left for Mr. Beliveau, with the official attendance shortened by one to honour him. 
Three preseason NBA games played on October 19, 2012 between the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks, October 20, 2013 between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves, and October 24, 2014 between the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks were all sell-outs.
The following numbers have been retired by the Canadiens (positions in parentheses) and hang from the rafters:
- 1 Jacques Plante (G) October 7, 1995
- 2 Doug Harvey (D) October 26, 1995
- 3 Émile Bouchard (D) December 4, 2009
- 4 Jean Béliveau (C) October 9, 1971
- 5 Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion (RW) March 11, 2006
- 5 Guy Lapointe (D) November 8, 2014
- 7 Howie Morenz (C) November 2, 1937
- 9 Maurice "The Rocket" Richard (RW) October 6, 1960
- 10 Guy Lafleur (RW) February 16, 1985
- 12 Dickie Moore (LW) November 12, 2005
- 12 Yvan Cournoyer (RW) November 12, 2005
- 16 Henri Richard (C) December 10, 1975
- 16 Elmer Lach (C) December 4, 2009
- 18 Serge Savard (D) November 18, 2006
- 19 Larry Robinson (D) November 19, 2007
- 23 Bob Gainey (C) February 23, 2008
- 29 Ken Dryden (G) January 29, 2007
- 33 Patrick Roy (G) November 22, 2008
While Lach and Henri Richard both wore the number 16, they were given separate ceremonies unlike Cournoyer and Moore. All have their own banner.
The only other banners hanging from the rafters at the Bell Centre are those of the Canadiens' Stanley Cup championship banners. Unlike other NHL arenas, the Canadiens do not display division or conference championship banners, despite the fact they have won many championships over the years (including 24 Stanley Cups). At Bell Centre, as had the Forum, only Stanley Cup championship banners are raised to the rafters.
- "Directions and Parking". Centre Bell. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada. "Consumer Price Index, historical summary". CANSIM, table (for fee) 326-0021 and Catalogue nos. 62-001-X, 62-010-X and 62-557-X. And Consumer Price Index, by province (monthly) (Canada) Last modified 2013-12-20. Retrieved January 8, 2014
- Chronology - HW: World Wide Habs Fans Community
- "Centre Bell". IBI/DAA Group. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Bell Centre". Dessau. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Buildings". SNC-Lavalin. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Bell Centre". Ballparks.com. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Associated Press (December 1, 2009). "Habs' Sale to Molson Family Approved". ESPN. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Bouchard, Dany (January 11, 2006). "The best Bell Centre". Canoë. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "2012 Year End Worldwide Ticket Sales Top 100 Arena Venues" (PDF). Pollstar. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- montrealgazette.com - Habs Game Report: Desharnais pots OT winner
- "La Cage aux Sports". Bell Centre. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Centre Bell (2009). "Centre Bell - Our History". Centre Bell. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- Centre Bell (2009). "Centre Bell - Venue Specifications". Centre Bell. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- "Céline Dion: Eighth Show Added". Matin (in French) (The Canadian Press). February 9, 2008. Archived from the original on February 10, 2008. Retrieved February 9, 2008.
- "Season Ticket Waiting List". Montreal Canadiens. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- NHL attendance
- Turgeon, Pierre (May 22, 2010). "An Awfully Strong Playoff Fever". La Tribune (in French) (Cyberpresse). Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Centre Bell.|
|Events and tenants|
|Home of the
1996 – present
|Host of the
NHL All-Star Game