All avid sports fans can remember the first time they stepped into a stadium to watch a professional sports team play – eyes wide at the monstrous-sized facilities and massive lights and jumbotron, ears full of loud music, half- time entertainment and the chants of cheerleaders, bellies satisfied with the ice-cold beer and salty peanuts and hotdogs.
But, most of all, fans will remember the intense play on the field or court and the utter joy of cheering among thousands of like-minded fans. Professional athletes are beyond talented – they seemed larger than life, and their moves and plays nothing short of spectacular.
Thankfully, the Niagara Region is an hour’s drive from many professional sports venues. But did you know that sports fans living in Niagara can experience the same excitement and energy with semi-professional level sports right here in our community?
Got Raptor fever? Take in a fast-paced and high-scoring River Lions basketball game. Can’t get enough of slapshots and breakaways? Get season tickets to watch the Niagara IceDogs. Is rough and tumble more your fan style? Niagara Raiders football will fit the bill. Or, maybe, you prefer the relaxing, slower pace of a summer baseball game under the lights? Then make your way to watch the Welland Jackfish play.
The Niagara Region is home to four semi-professional sports teams, each with a faithful and growing fan base in the thousands. Follow your sport or explore new ones, year-round, here in Niagara.
Home games played at the Meridian Centre, 1 IceDogs Way, St. Catharines.
Fast IceDogs Facts:
- Major Junior Ice Hockey Team, member of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
- IceDogs owners brought team operations to St. Catharines in 2007.
- Watch future NHL stars, close to home, conveniently and affordably.
- OHL players are aged 16-20 years.
- Regular season runs September to March.
- Ticket Options: season tickets, flex packs, single games, specialty nights, senior and child discounts
- Team won two conference championships, and played in the final Championship games twice, losing both times to the renowned London Knights.
- Since 2008, 20 Ice Dogs were drafted into the NHL.
League website: niagaraicedogs.net
Niagara River Lions
Home Games played at Meridian Centre, 1 IceDogs Way, St. Catharines
Fast River Lions Facts:
- Member of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) since 2018. League includes six Canadian teams, and talented players from around the world
- Founded in 2015
- Regular Season runs May to August
- Fans describe the River Lions atmosphere as “big league, high scoring, and entertaining.”
- Ticket Options: Season Tickets, Group Tickets, Flex Packs, Single Game, Specialty Nights
2019: River Lions finish season winning first overall
League website: www.riverlions.ca
“fans first, fun always”
Home Games played at: Welland Sports Complex, 90 Quaker Road, Welland
Fast Jackfish Facts:
- Member of Intercountry Baseball League (IBL), which is Ontario’s Premier Senior Baseball League
- Founded in 2008
- Regular Season runs May to August
- Tickets Options: Season Tickets, Group Sales, Flex Pack, Single Games, Birthday Parties, discounts for seniors, students and children
2019: First time Jackfish move to the semi-finals of the Dominico Cup championships, thrilling fans.
League website: wellandjackfish.com
Niagara Regional Raiders
Home Games played at: Kiwanis Field, 240 St Paul St W, St. Catharines, ON
Fast Raiders Facts:
- Member of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL), which includes 19 teams across six provinces.
- Team founded in 1958 as Burlington Braves; moved to Niagara in 2016
- Players aged 19-23 play football competitively provincially, and, if qualifying, nationally.
- Watch future varsity and CFL stars, close to home, and affordably.
- Regular Season runs August to October
- Tickets Options: Available Game Day, senior and child discounts
Legendary CFL Hall of Fame players Tony Gabriel and Peter Dalla Riva are team alumni.
League website: niagararaidersfootball.ca
Semi-Professional Sports Schedule in Niagara At-a-Glance