Smallwood Arena may not hold much heat, but the place is chock full of memories. And come 2012, thats all residents and users will have as the aging rink is set to be demolished. Starting in 1977, just a few short years after the Pearl was incorporated as a town, the 33,4000 square foot corrugate galvanized steel frame lovingly known as the Tin Can has been home to hockey, figure skating and recreational skates. And thats just in the winter months. Located at the Gushue Sports Complex because Brad Gushue (a resident of Paradise) and Mount Pearl (a city without a curling rink to speak of) go together like broom and a soccer ball with the citys new FieldTurf soccer pitch, two regular grass fields and a baseball diamond, Smallwood was the social and recreation mecca for the suburban city until the Glacier was built in 1993. And like the family minivan that wasnt cool enough to drive once the new mid-size SUV came along, Smallwood was forgotten. Why suffer in late 70s-style digs when the brand-spanking new Glacier, with its multiple locker rooms, extra rental space, bigger canteen and fully stocked bar, was there to avail of. Its no wonder its upstairs multi-purpose rooms have fallen into disrepair to the point where they cant be used for safety reasons. Since the city is attaching Smallwoods replacement a 300-fixed-seat rink directly to the existing Glacier as part of a massive Reid Centre expansion of service, the Glacier shouldnt expect the same fate. Now, I dont do the books for the city of Mount Pearl, but given the premium on ice-time all around the greater St. Johns area, wouldnt it make sense to try to sell the facility to a private group, allow them to make the required renovations and take up the day to day operation? Its working for the management group at Capital Hyundai Arena. Does it make sense, given the sheer number of minor hockey players in Mount Pearl and the subsequent strength of the association, to remove more hockey options? Its not as if minor hockey numbers will be dropping out that way. Just the opposite, in fact. And if selling is not an option, how can Smallwood not be used for other recreational purposes? Whos to say it cant be modified to be curling rink? Or simply left as is and reserved exclusively for recreational leagues and public skating, leaving the premium ice and facilities for the development level? When I spoke to Mount Pearl mayor Randy Simms about this some months ago regarding the Reid expansion he admitted the focus of council was about adding new recreation infrastructure, not replacing it. Apparently, not in Smallwood's case.
- July 27, 2010 - 13:55
Being a resident from Mount Pearl, I have a spot in my heart for the Tin Can , but in reality, the place is ready to fall down. If the city was to sell the arena to a private investor, there would be much repairs and renovations needed to ensure the investors could make potential gains in the future. As much as the Tin Can is a part of Mount Pearl it just isn't feasible to keep that place open. Like the saying goes, all good things must come to and end. I guess it's the end of the Tin Can.