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