January 17, 2017 8:46 pm
Updated: January 17, 2017 9:02 pm

Historic Regina Exhibition Stadium demolition underway

WATCH ABOVE: Today marks the end of an era. Regina Exhibition Stadium, built in 1919, is being torn down to make way for the Modern International Trade Centre.From concerts to curling to hockey, the barn held many memories. Blake Lough has this story.

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A small crowd of curious residents gathered to say farewell to the nearly 100-year-old Regina Exhibition Stadium at Evraz Place as its demolition got underway Tuesday afternoon.

An excavator made short work of the building’s east wall, cutting through the 98-year-old brick like paper. As the bricks fell, members of the viewing party recalled memories from the historic building.

“I never played hockey in there but I did referee hockey in there. [I watched] the Pats, watched the world curling championships,” Neil McGregor said as he watched the wall crumble.

A resident of Regina since the 1960’s, Wilf Holywell remembered how sometimes finding a good seat in the arena proved difficult.
“The thing you remember the most was probably the pillars in the way. You just hated them,” Holywell laughed.

After an original building used as a military barracks was destroyed in 1917, the Regina stadium opened its doors in 1919 — an impressive arena for the time.

Over the years, it hosted a royal visit, a world curling championship and high profile musical guests like Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong.

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However, most residents know the old barn for its long and decorated hockey history.

The Regina Capitals were formed in 1921 and played in Regina Exhibition Stadium until the franchise moved to Portland and eventually became the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Regina Pats also called Exhibition Stadium home up until the team moved to the Brandt Centre (formerly called the Agridome).

Kim MacDougall, a defenceman who played for the Pats from 1971 to 1974, vividly remembered playing in the stadium.

He was part of the championship squad that took home the Memorial Cup in 1974.

“When we won the Memorial Cup we didn’t win it in this rink, we won it in Calgary, but we played that whole year here. There’s certainly some fond memories there,” he said.

“By the third period the place was always getting hazy because everyone was smoking in there. It wasn’t that bright of a rink… when we played it was dungy, it was dark. I don’t know how [Pats goaltender Ed Staniowski] ever saw the puck on some of them and that’s probably how he made the saves!”

MacDougall is excited for progress to be made at Evraz Place. He shows sheep at Agribition and believes that completion of the $37-million International Trade Centre project is important.

READ MORE: Evraz demolition makes way for new trade centre

At the end of the day, the stadium is a building and its demolition won’t take away MacDougall’s many fond memories.

“I go to the Agridome (Brandt Centre) now and see our banner. Nothing can take that away from me,” he smiled.

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