MONTREAL, Que.— Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson met with the media Wednesday to announce a $100-million plan to revamp the Bell Centre.
The three-year project has already begun, with all 21,288 seats in the 19-year-old arena having been replaced over the summer.
“I noticed the difference,” said season ticket-holder Jared Silver, who attended a pre-season game. “The seats are definitely more comfortable, but they didn’t feel much bigger.”
Other changes within the building include the installation of a glass canopy that will span the entire front entrance on Ave-des-Canadiens, and the remodelling of the luxury suites, lounges and concessions stands, as well as widening of the corridors by 20 per cent.
Also in the plans are renovations of the restaurants and bars within the Bell Centre, the construction of a new restaurant, the revamping of the Wi-Fi system and the addition of several video screens throughout.
“This major investment is intended to maintain our standards of excellence and to ensure the quality of the Bell Centre visitor experience,” said Molson. “It’s very important to us that our fans be able to get up, get something to eat, maybe go to the bathroom and get back into their seats before the start of the next period. Secondly, we’re offering fans the opportunity to order food in their seats and it gets delivered to them within five minutes.”
On the outside of the Bell Centre, Molson has proposed a plan to the city of Montreal for the 200-metre stretch of road on Ave-des-Canadiens to be turned into a pedestrian plaza. He also announced that part of the project will include placing a massive video screen over the building’s front entrance.
“We hope the plans will be approved by the city,” said Molson in French.
Molson assured all the changes to the Bell Centre will be carried out in staggered stages so as not to interfere with the building’s schedule. He also stated that the project is being funded privately.
According to an independent study run by firm KPMG, the building that houses the Canadiens and runs concerts and entertainment through Evenko is visited by 2.9 million people annually.
As a result of the Canadiens condo project (Tour des Canadiens), which was constructed on the Bell Centre’s northwest corner, Centennial Plaza — featuring statues of Canadiens legends such as Jean Believeau and Maurice Richard — has been renamed ‘Place des Canadiens’ and has been moved to the northeast corner of the building in the Rio Tinto courtyard between Windsor Station and the Deloitte Tower.
Place des Canadiens will be inaugurated Thursday morning with former Canadiens legend Guy Lapointe in attendance.