Halifax’s Centennial Arena celebrating 50th anniversary
Halifax’s Centennial Arena is celebrating a big milestone –its 50th anniversary.
“It’s very important to know that the building you’re running is still alive after 50 years. Fifty years for a building like this is a major accomplishment,” said Stuart Poteri. He’s been working at the arena for the last 37 years and is now the manager.
“I love the job. To me, it’s not even like coming to work, it’s just coming into a building I love,” he told Global News.
“I love the kids, the best part of it is the kids because you get to interact with the kids and see them grow up. I got kids that were here when I started, now they’re bringing their children back and going on the ice. It’s like I’ve gone through a whole generation of people.”
Centennial Arena a family affair for the Poteri’s
For Stuart, the arena has given him a lot of the years but one thing stands out above the rest.
“There’s a lot of special moments that comes with this rink. I met my wife here,” he said.
“I met Stuart here rollerskating back in 1980, married him in 1983. We actually had our wedding reception here at the rink,” added Michelle Poteri, Stuart’s wife and the administrative assistant of the rink.
“This is where my family began. My kids grew up here, played hockey here. Now they’ve gone on. My grandchildren have played here.”
In fact, keeping the Centennial Arena a hub in the community has truly been a family affair for the Poteri’s for decades.
“Stuart’s father was actually the second manager. He started here in 1968. He worked as a working manager right up until 2011 when he passed away. Stuart took over at that point.,” Michelle said.
“A lot of people think, ‘Is it a family rink?’ but no, it’s not, it’s part of the community.”
Rink a hub in the community
The rink has become a second home for people like 85-year-old June MacIntyre. She starts every day off the same way, by skating at the arena.
“It’s just important to get out and socialize,” MacIntyre said. “I lost my husband a few years ago, so it’s great for me because I made all these friends.”
Bob MacDonald, a member of the Centennial Arena’s board of directors, said the arena has a history of community involvement and offers something for all ages.
“Senior skating, it also involves minor hockey, skating clubs, women’s hockey, everything of that nature, community skates,” MacDonald said.
“It becomes the real centre of the community, where people meet and have been meeting for years.”
Over the last couple of years, the arena has undergone a number of repairs to the Centennial Arena.
The canteen has been fixed up, renovations have taken place in the skate sharpening area, the beams in the arena have been scrapped and painted, the showers upgraded and a new engine room has been put in the facility.
“I think it’s important that it gives the community a sense of belonging and doing something and a lot of it without additional funds from provincial and federal governments. Certainly, from HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) who have been very, very good to us,” he said. “We don’t go in the hole, we don’t have deficits and we’re doing quite well and that’s another reason we’ve been around for so long.”
Dance, alumni hockey game planned for anniversary
There are a number of events in the works to help celebrate the arena’s important milestone.
On Sunday, April 23, there will be a alumni hockey game take place at the rink between the Fairview Aces and the Rockingham Eagles at 10 a.m. All proceeds from the event will go to the Centennial Arena Expansion Fund. You can learn more about the event here.
On Saturday, April 29. the Centennial Arena is hosting a dance featuring the Rasta Gumbo Band at the Halifax Forum. Organizers are expecting upwards of 500 people to attend the function, so they chose to have it at a larger facility. Tickets can be picked up at the Centennial Arena, 27 Vimy Ave., from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
A Facebook Page called “Celebrate Centennial Arena, 50 years young” is also looking for people who may have participated in events at the rink over the last five decades to post photos and memories of their time there. Organizers say the goal is to bring people together to help mark the anniversary.
“This year is just a celebration of 50 years in the community, so we’re trying to reach out to members of the community, past, present and future to get them involved,” Michelle said.
“It’ll be an opportunity for people who haven’t seen each other in years to get together and share old stories and reminisce and everything like that,” MacDonald said.
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