Home of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, the Memorial Auditorium (aka “The Aud”) is the city’s largest venue. It is fully owned and operated by the city of Kitchener - so it’s one of the few large-scale arenas not named after a corporation.
For the better part of 50 years, Kitchener’s main public event facility was the Queen Street Auditorium. Although it was primarily used for hockey, this predecessor to the Aud has its own musical history: during the second world war - when the hockey players were overseas - it was used as a dance hall during big band concerts. However, after the Queen Street Auditorium was destroyed in a major fire in 1948, the city of Kitchener needed a new site for hockey and music - and so construction began on the Memorial Auditorium. It was completed in 1950, and the first event ever to take place in its walls was the Clyde Brothers Circus in 1951. Since this time, the Aud has been expanded three times, the most recent of these expansions took place in 2012, when the Kitchener Rangers (with a loan from the City of Kitchener) funded the addition of just under 1,000 seats, a third-level concourse, a fourth-level media room, bunker-style suites, concessions, washrooms, offices and retail areas.
As far as arenas go, The Aud is modest in scale. Including those standing on the floor, it only has a 8,462-person concert capacity. But over the years, some of Canada’s most famous musical acts have passed through this relatively humble venue: Bryan Adams, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, The Guess Who, and Neil Young. The small arena has also hosted the likes of international stars such as Elton John, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan.
As far as practicality goes, the Aud doesn’t have the drawbacks of huge-scale arenas in metropolitan centres: it’s easy to get to (located off Highway 7), and there are five lots dedicated to visitor parking (which is free).
Because the Aud is now 70 years old, the cost of constantly updating is, in the long run, much more than relocating it. Thus, Kitchener’s municipal government is currently examining the possibility of moving the Aud to a new location. In the near future, this page may be updated to feature a brand new, even larger venue in Kitchener - stay tuned.