Rink Rant

Robin
Robin Short
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Can’t say I was shocked this week with the responses from mayoral and council candidates to The Telegram’s survey question: Would you support construction of new arenas to provide more icetime to minor hockey groups, adult recreation hockey teams and figure skaters?
It was the usual political tripe, with little substance.

Can’t say I was shocked this week with the responses from mayoral and council candidates to The Telegram’s survey question: Would you support construction of new arenas to provide more icetime to minor hockey groups, adult recreation hockey teams and figure skaters?

It was the usual political tripe, with little substance.

Perhaps I wanted to see the truth. Perhaps I wanted to read what we all know, that a) the city isn’t in the hockey arena business, anyway (it owns but one, Mile One Centre, and that doesn’t count) b) most of the rinks in town are showing their age, to put it kindly, and c) you can’t get prime time ice in this city during the winter season for love nor money.

So yes, it is the city’s job to provide recreation facilities, and yes, we are in desperate need for more rinks.

Like anything else, it comes down to will — you either want new hockey rinks in your municipality, or you don’t.

Nobody is suggesting we fling open the vault door and plan for a new Madison Square Garden, but there are ways to get things done.

If you want it to happen.

The Red Ball Internet Centre in Moncton, N.B. (formerly the Tim Hortons 4 Ice Centre) is, for all intents and purposes, the benchmark for a hockey/recreation facility in Atlantic Canada.

In addition to the four-pad ice surface, it has a full-service restaurant and meeting and dressing rooms.

Outside, it’s surrounded by walking trails, baseball and soccer fields with a nearby domed building (similar to the Greenbelt Tennis Club), complete with Field Turf.

Built about 12 years ago, the complex sits on land donated by CN, although it cost the City of Moncton $2 million for environmental cleanup.

Faced with an aging sports infrastructure (sound familiar?), Moncton had to find a way to provide its citizens with recreation facilities — which, last time I checked, is part of the mandate, isn’t it — without breaking the bank.

See NEW, page B3

With funding from the province of New Brunswick, the city and private money, the idea of a four-pad arena and baseball/soccer field complex became reality.

Today, the Red Ball Internet Centre, built for $15.3 million, operates as a not-for-profit entity, managed by a volunteer board.

Kind of like Twin Rinks in St. John’s, but on a much different level.

Moncton, of course, is not alone. Travel the country — I’ve covered a sporting event of some kind or another in every province but New Brunswick — and you will see similar sports facilities.

Except St. John’s.

Granted, we’re getting there, although the relatively new Provincial Training Centre is woefully short of space, namely meeting rooms and training areas. Memorial University’s Field House is as good as anything in Atlantic Canada, but like finding decent ice time, good luck getting on that court.

So there’s still a way to go.

•••••

Keeping with facilities, I was on holidays in July when the missive filtered in from City Hall in downtown Mount Pearl, informing the masses the new Pearlgate Recreation Multiplex next to The Glacier was half-way to completion.

Why, in another year, the spanking new “aquatics complex” will be poised to host … more birthday parties!

While the new swimming pool is guaranteed to be more spiffy than the current outdated bathtub, it’s still but a mini-me to the brand new aquatic facilities going up across the country — a 25-metre pool to the standard 50-metre amenities.

So while the new pool should have a few more bells and whistles than the old one down on Park Ave., it’s still not regulation size, meaning the Marlins — the city’s swim club — still won’t be in a position to stage swim meets.

Kind of like the IceCaps endeavouring to play out of St. Bon’s Forum.

So kids’ parties and family swims is what it is for the new pool, too.

Which is fine if that’s what you want.

But the Marlins, or at least the competitive swimmers within the club, should do themselves a favour and head east to join the St. John’s Legends at the Aquarena.

Not that we should come down too hard on Mount Pearl. The new Multiplex is costing $33 million, and good for that city investing $20-odd million of its money into the project and the Glacier expansion.

Nice to see at least one city sees the value in sport and recreation.

But why settle on a 25-metre swimming pool?

The answer, frankly, is obvious — I’m told the difference of 25 metres is $14 million (don’t ask, I’m not an engineer or contractor).

Still, the question begs to be asked: was there not a probe into attracting some private money into the facility, or, with the 2021 Canada Games slated for Newfoundland, going all-in with its regional neighbours to ensure a state-of-the replacement for the deteriorating Aquarena that could be the future home of the 2021 Canada Summer Games swimming and diving competitions?

Or did petty politics scuttle that before it was even talked about?

Just wondering.

IN SHORT

Can’t say I blame the woman upset with Halifax Regional Municipality and its naming of a Middle Sackville street Newfie Lane. Won’t go so far as to say it’s offensive, but I’ve never been a big fan of the term. In fact, I can’t stand it. Not that I consider myself haughty, or ashamed of my heritage, as it were, but I’ve been around enough, in the company of those from outside Newfoundland whose definition of “Newfie” is quite different from those within the province who consider it a delightful, if not wholesome, term. Rather, it’s a designation, in my view, that’s a verbal equivalent to a pat on the head and the predictable request to sing a song and give us a little jig. Not all feel this way, of course. But I’m willing to bet there’s a significant number. Unfortunately, there’s also a small sect of village idiots within this province all too willing to lend credence to the reasoning … Twenty-eight years I’ve been in this business, and it’s been that long that I’ve known John McGrath. I’ve had my rackets with him, and worked with him, serving on the provincial Sports Hall of Fame selection committee. It’s one of the reasons I felt so sick this week to learn of the death of his wife, Donna, in a tragic car accident on the Trans-Canada. My deepest condolences to John and his boys … Daniel Cleary will reportedly wear No. 71 with the Detroit Red Wings this season. You think Johnny-come-lately Daniel Alfredsson would be the guy switching numbers, not the eight-year Detroit veteran … The Winnipeg Jets assigned 10 players to the St. John’s IceCaps Friday — Austen Brassard, Blair Riley, Brenden Kichton, Cody Sol, J.C. Lipon, Jason Jaffray, John Albert, Jussi Olkinuora, Kael Mouillierat and Will O’Neill. Former St. John’s Maple Leaf Ian White was released from his PTO ... Notice there’s no mention of Newfoundland and Labrador on the AHL All-Star Classic logo. That’s because the province didn’t put any money towards the project. Twenty bucks says there will be plenty of Newfoundland and Labrador ads on Sportsnet when the game is televised, however … And one last point re sports facilities in Newfoundland: we’re third world when compared to the rest of Canada …

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort

Organizations: Red Ball, Madison Square Garden, Tim Hortons 4 Ice Centre Greenbelt Tennis Club IceCaps Field House Halifax Regional Municipality Fame selection committee Trans-Canada Detroit Red Wings Winnipeg Jets AHL All-Star Classic

Geographic location: Moncton, Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Canada.In Mount Pearl Middle Sackville

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