Council votes to rebuild Peterborough Memorial Centre floor, Lakers feel the pinch

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Peterborough city council votes to replace floor at Memorial Centre
Peterborough city council votes to replace floor at Memorial Centre – Dec 11, 2018

It has been the talk of the town and at coffee shops across Peterborough for the past two years now: What should the city do with the Peterborough Memorial Centre, along with its cement floor and the 40-year-old, brittle ice making infrastructure?

On Monday night council finally made a decision to replace the entire floor.

READ MORE: City staff report recommends $3.5 million in ice pad upgrades at Memorial Centre

It’s clear the decision didn’t come easy for those around the council table, as the $3.5-million floor construction project will close the Memorial Centre for five months and force the back-to-back Mann Cup champion Peterborough Lakers out of their home rink for the 2019 season.

The second option being considered for the rink was a million-dollar patchwork repair job that would also close the arena for the majority of the summer but cost significantly less and have less impact on both the Lakers and OHL  Peterborough Petes.

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But the Lakers argued there was a third option available that would allow both major tenants to forego any changes to their schedules, but this wasn’t considered a feasible option.

Coun. Gary Baldwin made a motion to defer the decision on the arena last week at a general committee meeting, seeking both engineering firms Entuitive Ltd. and Carvajal Structural Engineers Inc. to address council and answer any questions regarding the life expectancy of the cement pad and in-floor refrigeration system.

In the end, council voted 9-2 in favour of replacing the floor along with the ice making infrastructure and boards, to keep the rink open for another 10 years while the city looks to build a replacement arena for the 62-year-old rink.

READ MORE: Memorial Centre construction plans could put Peterborough Lakers’ 2019 season in jeopardy

Only councillors Don Vassiliadis and Keith Riel voted against the staff recommendation and floor rebuild and argued to speed up the process and build the new facility.

“Reluctantly, I will support the recommendation but we do need to get on with a modern recreation facility that will make our city proud,” said Coun. Baldwin, referring to the ongoing commitment and pursuit by the city staff and council to construct the new sport and entertainment facility that will replace the Memorial Centre.

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Construction on the arena floor is expected to begin shortly after the Petes’ 2019 season. That date will depend on how far the team travels in the playoffs but it’s estimated the project will take five months to complete.

The decision means the Petes’ will also be displaced by the work and will have to play the first portion of their regular season on the road next year, as it’s anticipated construction wouldn’t be complete until early November 2019.

The back-and-forth debate has pitted these two historic sports franchises against one another and Petes’ president Dave Pogue said this wasn’t the intention. He felt like there wasn’t a winner on either side after last night’s decision but believed it was the right decision at the time.

“Based on expert opinion, this fix needed to be done,” Pogue said. “But unfairly, I think this decision has pitted organization against organization, and we’ve had a very strong relationship with the Lakers in the past and if there is a way we can help the Lakers out, we would offer that in the event it’s valuable to the Lakers.”

The Petes’ needed a decision, either way on Monday night, as general manager Mike Oke will begin the process of putting together the team’s schedule for next season with all other 20 OHL franchises next week.

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As for the Lakers, this isn’t the decision they were looking for as it will force the team to find a new rink to play out of next season.

The city has a clause in the report to help the Lakers and will compensate the lacrosse club for loss of ticket revenue next year.

Lakers spokesperson Tim Barrie says the team and its executive have had offers from other communities to host the team next summer but wouldn’t elaborate where.

Locally, the city has offered the team the use of the Evinrude Centre which has a 750-seat capacity. The challenge for the Lakers is they have 2,100 season ticket holders, Barrie says.

“The compensation for one year won’t cut it,” Barrie says. “They (the city) are doing irreparable damage to this franchise and if they kill this franchise it will take years to build it back up.”

READ MORE: Morrow Park scores highest in consultant’s report for site to replace Peterborough Memorial Centre

Commissioner of community services Allan Seabrooke said there is a report coming back to council in January regarding the next steps with the new sport and entertainment facility that will replace the Memorial Centre.

A short list of sites will be evaluated and looked at closer while the process continues to move forward. The city has set aside $480,000 in the 2019 budget to keep the process moving.


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