In a season in which we already said good-bye to Jean Beliveau, we now face the prospect of bid adieu to the “House that Jean Built”.
The Colisee in Quebec will host its last hockey match on May 31, the Championship game of the 2015 Memorial Cup Tournament.
It is the rink where hockey legend Jean Beliveau skated as a member of the senior Quebec Aces, where Guy Lafleur played with the junior Quebec Remparts and where the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association and the NHL called home. Today the home of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Colisée hosted the Québec International Peewee Hockey Tournament annually in February, with almost 2300 young hockey players from 16 countries participating.
It is being replaced by a new, $400-million, 18,482-seat arena next door called the Videotron Centre, which Quebec City hopes will one day be home to a new NHL franchise.
As for the old Coliseum, officially called the Pepsi Colisee, is now slated to be demolished. The Remparts will play their first game in the new building in September.
The place was originally built-in 1949, seating 10,034, to replace a building on the same site that had burned down a year earlier. Built by architects Rinfret and Bouchard with directions from Robert Blatter and F. Caron, the arena was a mix of International Style exterior and Art Deco interior. It was known as “The House that Béliveau Built”, as it was often filled to capacity in its earlier years to watch Jean Béliveau star for the Quebec Aces before moving to the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens. Two decades later, sellout crowds came to see Guy Lafleur as a member of the Quebec Remparts before, he too, would join the Canadiens.
Le Colisée underwent major renovations in 1980. The old entrance was taken down and replaced with a massive glass facade, and the seating capacity was increased to 15,750 to meet NHL standards of that era after the Nordiques made the jump from the WHA to the NHL. PepsiCo bought the naming rights on November 18, 1999, and current capacity is 15,176. Coincidentally, the former Quebec Nordiques, now known as the Colorado Avalanche, currently play at Pepsi Center in Denver.
The arena hosted the 1971 Memorial Cup championship series, in which the Remparts defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings two games to none. Since the championship switched to a tournament format, the Coliseum has hosted it in 1991 and 2003. Internationally, the first game of the 1974 Summit Series between Canadian WHA all-stars and the Soviet national team was played at the Coliseum, as were one game in each of the 1976 and 1991 Canada Cups. The arena co-hosted the 1978 IIHF World U20 Championship with Montreal and also co-hosted, along with Halifax, the 2008 IIHF World Championships. Rendez-vous ’87, a two game series between the NHL All-Stars and the Soviet national team, was another highlight in the building’s history. Colisée Pepsi has also hosted many big concerts.
Sunday marks teh last hockey game. The building will officially close after a concert by the rock group Metallica on Sept. 14.