Tucker de­parts as arena man­ager

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The man cred­ited for turn­ing the money-los­ing S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace into a vi­able recre­ation fa­cil­ity has left his job, and the search is on for his re­place­ment.

Af­ter only 18 months at the helm as arena man­ager, Lorne Tucker took on a new job last week as fa­cil­ity man­ager at the new Jack Byrne Me­mo­rial Arena in Tor­bay.

But Tucker went out on a high note on Oct. 11, with a near-ca­pac­ity crowd on hand to watch the Con­cep­tion Bay North CeeBees play an ex­hi­bi­tion game against the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens Alumni.

“ It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” Tucker said prior to the game.

Tucker praised the town coun­cil for its sup­port, and had kind words for all those in­volved with the sta­dium.

“I re­ally feel a lit­tle bad about leav­ing be­cause of the good ex­pe­ri­ence, and I like the di­rec­tion that the build­ing is go­ing in now, with some of the ac­tiv­i­ties that we’ve at­tracted and will in the fu­ture,” he said.

But Tucker is a res­i­dent of Mount Pearl, and said the 1,000 kilo­me­tre weekly com­mute to Har­bour Grace was just too much for his 57-year-old body. He also pointed to “ bet­ter ben­e­fits” at the Tor­bay fa­cil­ity.

“I just have to take care of my­self in my later years,” he said.

Tucker said the high­light of his ex­pe­ri­ence in Har­bour Grace was deal­ing with the CeeBees se­nior team, and the fans.

“ I’m re­ally im­pressed with the team, but moreso with the fans. The great sup­port they get out here on a nightly ba­sis can’t be matched any­where,” he said.

He said the se­nior team is very im­por­tant to the arena, and its bot­tom line.

“It’s so im­por­tant to make a dol­lar other than your ice rental, such as a share of the gate and what a large crowd brings to your can­teen and your bar,” he ex­plained.

He said the arena will have a solid fu­ture, as long as the ac­tiv­ity level re­mains strong. But he sees a day very soon when the half-cen­tury old fa­cil­ity will need to be re­placed.

Tucker has been man­ag­ing are­nas in this prov­ince for 27 years, start­ing in Spring­dale, his home­town, where he was recre­ation di­rec­tor. He was part of a group that pur­chased Fiel­dian Gar­dens and Prince of Wales Arena in St. John’s, mak­ing them the first pri­vate op­er­a­tors of an arena in At­lantic Canada.

Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs said the sta­dium had be­come a bur­den on tax­pay­ers, and Tucker “turned it around.”

The dead­line for ap­pli­ca­tions for the po­si­tion was Fri­day, Oct. 15, and Coombs ex­pects in­ter­views to be­gin this week.

He said five to six cred­i­ble can­di­dates have al­ready iden­ti­fied, and the town hopes to have the po­si­tion filled as soon as pos­si­ble.

Mean­time, he said a spe­cial re­gional com­mit­tee, con­sist­ing pri­mar­ily of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of arena user groups, is be­ing es­tab­lished to lobby for a new re­gional arena.

Coombs is also meet­ing with an en­gi­neer­ing firm this week to dis­cuss the de­sign and fea­tures of the pro­posed build­ing. He said one op­tion in­cludes re­lo­cat­ing the coun­cil of­fice to the new build­ing.

“ It’s an ex­cit­ing time for any­one tak­ing on that job,” said Coombs.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Lorne Tucker is shown out­side the S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Arena in Har­bour Grace on Oct. 11.

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