We are a group of private citizens putting a face to the grassroots support for a new entertainment and sports spectator facility in St. Catharines.
St. Catharines is at a critical juncture in its history. Future generations will look back to this time when they evaluate the state the city in 20, 40, 50 years. They will be looking to see what this generation did to make their city a better place in which to live. This community has been well served by Jack Gatecliff Arena for the past 74 years, but it is showing its age. City residents in 1938 knew they were investing in a legacy that would serve their children and grandchildren. It is now benefitting their great grandchildren. Now is our time to leave the same legacy for our ancestors.
St. Catharines Museum - St. Catharines Standard Collection S1971.4.24
St. Catharines Black Hawks fans line up in the Garden City Arena for playoff tickets in April 1971. Without
a new spectator facility to replace the aging Jack Gatecliff Arena (formerly the Garden City Arena), lineups
for Major Junior A hockey in St. Catharines will become nothing but a piece of the city's history.
While we support the work of the city’s Spectator Arena Task Force Committee, staff and councilors who are working to build this new facility in St. Catharines, we are not connected with the city in any capacity.
Our hope is to provide city staff and councilors with the information and background they need to make the right decision for the city of St. Catharines. To that end, we will be the voice for residents who desire to see this city keep on its progressive path and reinvest in itself for the benefit of future generations. We want city officials to know there is a significant segment of this community that supports investing in a new entertainment and sports facility in St. Catharines.
No, that is not our role. While we would like to see this facility built in the downtown area, our objective is to see that this facility is built.
This is about much more than the Niagara IceDogs and owner Bill Burke. This is an investment in our community. This is about St. Catharines and an exciting project that will make our city a better place in which to live. This is an opportunity for our city to build an exciting new future. It’s a piece of the continued redevelopment of the downtown, complementing the other exciting projects that will breath new life into the city’s core.
A multi-use entertainment and sports facility has a variety of uses that will ad to the entertainment options available to St. Catharines residents. It will have the capability to host music concerts. It can double as convention or trade show space. It can host a myriad of sports, from hockey to basketball to curling to figure skating and more. It can bring a variety of entertainment events to St. Catharines, including wrestling, MMA and boxing matches, monster truck rallies, dirt bike and ATV racing, political rallies, religious gatherings … the list goes on.
Any facility of this nature requires an anchor tenant, and the IceDogs would fill that role, filling no fewer than 40 dates a year with home games, and are willing to commit to stay for 20 years. It must be noted that the continued existence of the Niagara IceDogs in the region is contingent on the construction of a new entertainment and sports facility in St. Catharines. The OHL prefers to have its teams playing in modern facilities that offer updated amenities to its fans, and would encourage the IceDogs to move if a new facility to replace Jack Gatecliff Arena isn’t built.
St. Catharines Museum - St. Catharines Standard Collection s1952.76
Major Junior hockey has been an important part of St. Catharines for decades, but without a new more
modern facility to replace the aging Jack Gatecliff Arena, the current franchise, the Niagara IceDogs will
leave town. If that happens, St. Catharines will likely lose any chance of returning to the OHL. Here, in the
heyday of the St. Catharines TeePees, Wilfred "Wimpy" Roberts (12) moves in on goal in a 7-2 loss to
the Quebec Citadels in November 1952.
While the dollar figure is just an estimate at this point, there is no question it isn’t cheap to build a facility with a seating capacity in the area of 5,000. However, there are build-finance-operate-maintain models available, in partnership with the private sector, that minimize the financial commitment of local governments, and thus taxpayers. Such an arrangement is not uncommon – OHL facilities in London, Oshawa and Windsor were built in this fashion.