City, Brock look at creating new ice facility

A push by St. Catharines parents for increased ice time may wind up having unexpected benefits for Brock.A proposed four pad, $17 million facility funded by the city may wind up sitting on Brock-owned property. The proposal to enter negotiations to build the arena on Brock land will be voted on by city council this week. It came about after a grassroots ice users committee began putting pressure on the city to build a new rink, starting in May, 2000. A new arena has not been built in St. Catharines since the construction of the Bill Burgoyne Arena in 1973.

“The Brock University Board of Trustees passed a motion authorizing the university to go into negotiations with the city to build an ice facility on Brock property,” said David Atkinson, Brock University president. “[The Brock contribution] would be land, this is a city-owned facility on Brock University property … There would be residual ownership. If the city ever decided to get out of the ice business, they couldn’t sell the arena, Brock would have residual ownership. Not that this would ever happen, it’s just to protect the university.”

“There was an ice users committee, headed up by [area resident and hockey parent] Kim Bauer.

They did a survey of arena users in the community, asking them how often they used the arenas, how much more time they needed and that sort of thing. They were basically trying to highlight the shortage of ice time [in St. Catharines],” said Lorne Adams, Brock University’s athletics director, on the plan’s origins.

Atkinson was quick to point out that the arena is far from a done deal, and negotiations must still be approved by the city. Nonetheless, he is hopeful that the plan will come to fruition.

“I think the university should partner with the city. I think we’re here to serve all the citizens,” said Atkinson. “It [would] bring people onto our campus, and would be one of the premier recreation facilities for miles around.”

Adams says that if the new arena is built, it will be a boon for both Brock’s varsity hockey teams and student skating enthusiasts in general.

“We hope that we would get some prime time for the varsity team. Additionally, we hope that there would be lots of opportunities for intramural activity,” said Adams. “Presently our women’s varsity team plays home games in Guelph and home games in Kingston due to lack of ice time, we hope this would help alleviate that problem … from an athletics standpoint, it would certainly help in terms of recruiting, having an arena so close to campus.”

Adams also believes that having the arena on Brock property will help the university’s standing in the St. Catharines community.

“It certainly can’t hurt. The fact that Brock’s involved puts us in a good light in the community, I’m sure.”

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