Coun­cil must speak up about Memo­rial Cen­tre ban­ners

Fans and fam­i­lies wanted tributes to be seen by all

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - Don Bar­rie

Peter­bor­ough is widely rec­og­nized for cel­e­brat­ing its great ath­letes with class.

The Peter­bor­ough and District Sports Hall of Fame promi­nently dis­plays plaques of in­ductees in the cor­ri­dors of the Memo­rial Cen­tre.

The city soft­ball league has sweater repli­cas of great play­ers lin­ing the out­field fence of East City Bowl. The city named a school and a street af­ter for­mer Petes coach Roger Neil­son, a soft­ball di­a­mond af­ter NHL star Red Sullivan, and a road be­side River­side Park af­ter base­ball coach Steve Terry.

But our most prom­i­nent dis­play, the one seen by the most by res­i­dents and vis­i­tors, were the photo ban­ners of hockey and lacrosse greats that used to hang in the Memo­rial Cen­tre rafters. Vis­it­ing fans and even vis­it­ing play­ers would com­ment on them.

Now, be­cause PMC man­ager Jeremy Giles adopted a con­sul­tant’s rec­om­men­da­tion to move the ban­ners, this highly revered hon­our to these great ath­letes is gone.

These ban­ners, along with the ban­ners de­pict­ing cham­pi­onship teams of the Petes and se­nior and ju­nior Lak­ers, are to be nailed to the up­per side walls, out of view from more than half the fans. Maybe it would be ac­cept­able for the team cham­pi­onship ban­ners but def­i­nitely not for the photo ban­ners of the great in­di­vid­u­als.

Af­ter the ban­ners were taken down dur­ing last sum­mer’s ren­o­va­tions, it was de­cided they would not be go­ing back up in the rafters. The rea­son­ing was they in­ter­fered with the sound, light­ing and some sight lines of up­per bowl seats and skybox suites.

Giles has given out no real proof other than some con­sul­tant’s opinion. Other Canadian rinks seem to have no trou­ble ac­com­mo­dat­ing ban­ners over the play­ing sur­face.

And who did these con­sul­tants con­sult?

It wasn’t the reg­u­lar hockey and lacrosse fans who keep the place afloat with their sup­port. It wasn’t the rel­a­tives of for­mer res­i­dents who paid for the PMC with pay­roll de­duc­tions decades ago. It wasn’t the play­ers, coaches and builders or their rel­a­tives hon­oured on those pen­nants.

We lost one of those honorees last month, lacrosse great

Larry Ferguson. At his vis­i­ta­tion at a lo­cal fu­neral home, the fam­ily had Larry’s photo ban­ner on dis­play. Larry and his fam­ily were so proud of that recog­ni­tion.

Larry’s wife, Lynda, pointed out the ban­ner to me and said the Lak­ers had ar­ranged for it to be there, but it had to go back the next day be­cause they were go­ing to put it back up in its right­ful place in the rafters of the PMC. Lit­tle did both of us know, the PMC had other plans.

The Petes sur­pris­ingly have gone ahead and re­placed their photo ban­ners with new ones just nam­ing their honorees, elim­i­nat­ing the photos, and nail­ing them to the side up­per wall.

Hope­fully, the two lacrosse or­ga­ni­za­tions treat this change as an un­war­ranted and dis­re­spect­ful af­front to all the lacrosse play­ers and their sup­port­ers.

Money was do­nated by lacrosse fans to pur­chase those photo ban­ners, and per­mis­sion was given by the city to place them in the rafters. Spe­cial cer­e­monies were held when each was raised. No one city staff mem­ber can or should be al­lowed to re­scind that.

Un­for­tu­nately, the buck stops with our city coun­cil. This and past coun­cils have a poor record of do­ing their due dili­gence and prop­erly in­ves­ti­gat­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from staff on var­i­ous mat­ters. That was most re­cently ev­i­dent in de­ci­sions con­cern­ing the place­ment of are­nas.

But now is time for coun­cil to step up and re­store the memo­rial dis­play of photo ban­ners this city is so proud of and widely rec­og­nized for to their right­ful place in the rafters of the Peter­bor­ough Memo­rial Cen­tre.

Don Bar­rie is a re­tired teacher, for­mer Buf­falo Sabres scout and a mem­ber of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Peter­bor­ough and District Sports Hall of Fame. His col­umn ap­pears each Satur­day in The Ex­am­iner.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Ban­ners hon­our­ing past Peter­bor­ough Lak­ers lacrosse greats such as Larry Ferguson and John Grant Jr. are seen May 31, 2018, at the Memo­rial Cen­tre prior to their re­moval from the rafters re­cently.

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