Arena project kick­ing into gear

Le­gion­naires alumni could be help­ing Sar­nia Arena fundrais­ing push

The Observer (Sarnia) - - FRONT PAGE - TYLER KULA

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.

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