The Kitchener Rangers return home Friday night to a newly expanded Aud.

Rangers COO Steve Bienkowski led the media on a tour of the $9.6 Million expansion Thursday.

“The blue seats are the new seats, there are two rows of red that are new in addition.” Bienkowski said while pointing to the seats from ice level off the top of the tour.

Bienkowski said he’s excited to be back at the Rangers home rink, having returned earlier this week. The players are also thrilled, Bienkowski said, having only arrived yesterday.

“First impressions are just vital to us,” he said, “and I think we want our fans to come in here and be wowed. Not come in here and say, ‘Oh, my seat is not attached’, and these types of things,” noting, the main pieces of the expansion are finished. Including an additional 1,000 seats.

New concourses are built, as are the dressing rooms, medical and training facilities, and offices.

Don Cameron and Mike Farwell have a new media area to bring you all the action from starting Friday night at 7:00 for the home opener.

However, there are a few finishing touches yet to be completed over the next couple days and weeks. Although, nothing that should affect the fan experience.

Bienkowski noted some of the parking changes the Rangers have undertaken to help alleviate some of the congestion.

Option one: Grand River Transit passes are available to fans on game days. Up to two hours before the game, fans can show the bus driver their Rangers game ticket, on top of a transit voucher to ride for free.

Option two: 7 restaurants located around the region “sort of like a wagon-wheel around the Auditorium,” are providing free shuttle bus service, Bienkowski said. The routes go directly from the restaurants to the Aud, and drop off their passengers at the East Avenue front door.

Option three: a paid parking lot. “We put available 116 spots there a few weeks ago. I think as of (Wednesday), 105 were sold, so we’re almost full.” The money from those parking spots will go into a fund used to enhance parking at the Aud.

Option four: a commuter, or “car-pool” lot. “You have to have three people in a car in order to park in there.” Bienkowski said.

Additionally, Bienkowski said, parking attendants will help people park as closely together as possible, to efficiently utilize the space.

That being said, construction in the area on East Avenue and Frederick Street is concerning Bienkowski. “When we empty out of here on Friday, I anticipate it will take a little bit longer than I anticipate it will, a few games down the road.”

To see how to win a pair of tickets for the Rangers home opener, go to this story.

The Rangers plan to hold an official grand re-opening for the public in January.