Photo by Chris Borchert
A sports arena, especially on a university campus, is often
viewed as mostly a varsity affair: a place to catch school
sports, and not much else. Not so with Thunderbird Arena.
This facility is a true gathering place for culture on campus –
as well as a nexus for sport in this community at large.
The variety of events that unfold at Thunderbird Arena is
stunning, and it’s effectively a block from Wesbrook – which
certainly adds to the excitement in the neighbourhood. On
the sporting side, we’ve seen the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
(going on four times), the Yonex Canada Badminton Open,
the Olympics and Special Olympics – and many, many
others. On the culture side, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
recently spoke to a rapt crowd. Sesame Street Live sang
and danced to a somewhat more, well, diminutive young
audience. And recent musical performances from artists
hailing from Hong Kong, China, South America, and Iran
(to name a few) have cemented the venue’s reputation as a
highly versatile performance space.
The big-ticket shows are just part of the story here. The
arena is in fact the central feature for Doug Mitchell
Thunderbird Sports Centre, a larger complex that includes
two more rinks, a high performance training area, and other
facilities. The complex plays a very important role as a yearround
gathering space for sport, for UBC and the wider
community, hosting more than 1,200 guests a week at more
than 190 athletic programs, and running more than 100
weekly hockey games. This facility has some grand shows,
definitely. But it also serves this community week after
week, as part of UBC’s larger athletic offering.
To find out more about upcoming events – or how you
can make Thunderbird Arena part of your life – visit