Council must speak up about Memorial Centre banners
Fans and families wanted tributes to be seen by all
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.
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.