As the defending Mann Cup champion Peterborough Lakers gear up for their 2018 season, their future beyond that remains uncertain as the lacrosse team could be without a home rink next season.
Construction plans for the Memorial Centre will go ahead and close the aging rink for at least six weeks, as the city will renovate and install new boards and glass along with a new concrete floor and ice-making infrastructure.
The Ontario Hockey League has mandated that all teams upgrade their boards and glass to a new safer standard and while those upgrades are being done, the city will also upgrade the 40-year-old ice-making system.
Last summer, the city installed a new ice-making plant and engineers who have been hired to inspect the system have recommended they now install new pipes or risk future setbacks.
That construction was supposed to go ahead this summer but the Lakers hold the chance to host the Mann Cup national championships, so the work was pushed off until 2019.
However, the Lakers were hoping it could be put off entirely as the city is in the early planning stages and looking at a new downtown OHL arena and entertainment facility.
“There are some issues with the refrigerant lines and the age of them that are in the floor and so we want to address that at the same time in 2019,” said Giles.
There is a contingency plan in place for the Petes’ next season in case the ice-making system goes down. A temporary ice system would be installed on top of the floor but that would mean no other special events could be hosted at the rink and would take at least three weeks to install.
There is an arena feasibility study underway to look at replacing the aging Memorial Centre but Giles says that’s a long-term project and to hold off on the ice-making upgrades is not an option.
“This floor, boards and glass project isn’t being done so we can play hockey in here in 10 years — it’s more short-term than that.”
CHEX News spoke with both Peterborough Lakers president Ted Higgins and Junior Lakers president Tim Barrie, who were both surprised by the decision.
Higgins and the Lakers board chairman Bill Joiner says the Lakers have largely been kept in the dark about renovation plans but they’re expected to meet with city staff next week to discuss ways to navigate the construction.
At this point, Higgins says they don’t have any formal contingency plans in place for the 2019 season.