Arena project kicking into gear
Legionnaires alumni could be helping Sarnia Arena fundraising push
Some big names in Canadian hockey could be coming to Sarnia to help coax open wallets for an arena revitalization project.
Phil Esposito and Pat Stapleton, both Team Canada players in the 1972 Summit Series against Russia are also Sarnia Legionnaires alumni.
Both have recently been in talks with the City of Sarnia, said liaison Greg Burr, about coming here for a fundraising event of some sort, in conjunction with the current Jr. ‘B’ Legionnaires squad.
Proceeds would go to a half-million-dollar campaign to revitalize the 1948-built Sarnia Arena, home ice for the Legionnaires, who were playing their home opener Thursday.
“We just haven’t finalized the plan yet,” said Burr, who’s been leading the fundraising campaign for the arena project.
Tentatively, the plan includes auctioning off an authentic replica of one of the jerseys Team Canada wore in 1972.
“There were 72 of them made, I have number 58,” Burr said, noting hopes are the kickoff of hockey season will mean a boost for the $491,667 arena campaign. Currently the pot sits at about $200,000, he said.
“We have a long way to go, but we are getting there,” he said.
Work is progressing on the $1.5-million renovation project, equally funded by the campaign, a federal infrastructure grant, and the City of Sarnia.
Contractors have so far built new accessible washrooms, installed a new sound system, and replaced the entire flatroof portion on the ‘Brock Street Barn,’ said Trevor Sanderson, arenas manager with the city.
“We were getting water leaks everywhere in this building,” he said, “So that’s not a very good experience for people when they come.”
The new sound system replaces four outdated globe-like speakers with about 10 modern boxes, new amplifiers and a wireless microphone, upping the quality and eliminating some safety concerns with equipment not being to code, he said.
Adding to the new accessible washrooms, accessibility upgrades – widening doorways, putting in automatic openers – are planned for all arena entrances and dress- ing rooms.
A new LED lighting system is going in next month, and new heating, he said, will replace the currently malfunctioning system before the March 31 project deadline – in play as a condition of the federal grant.
More change is slated for the lobby starting in November, Sanderson said, where ceilings, floors, doors and windows are all being replaced.
The concession area is also being moved to the other side of the hall, with a new rink-side viewing and sitting area going in its place.
Plans are to do the work in phases, Sanderson said, making space for continued use during the upgrade.
Outside too, some of the brickwork is being retouched and cleaned up, and the signs are being updated.
“A little more modern, a little more up to date,” Sanderson said.
New railings and access ladders have also been installed, bringing the arena up to code, he said.
All the upgrades are expected to make a big difference on utility bills, he said.
“Newer products, newer equipment, everything newer; it costs less to maintain,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to the after-effect of the project and how it’s going to help our budget.”
It should also look amazing, he said.
The arena is home to multiple groups like Skate Sarnia and minor hockey users, said Burr, calling it a community hub.
“That’s our goal, to make it a community friendly place for people to go.”
City of Sarnia fundraising liaison Greg Burr, left, and Trevor Sanderson, manager of arenas, stand by the ice in the Sarnia Arena. Upgrades to the building are expected to start in earnest this fall.