An about-face for Smallwood Arena

John
John Browne
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Mount Pearl and area has a new indoor training facility.

The old Smallwood Arena off Smallwood Drive, long a home to minor and junior hockey, and for a spell senior hockey, has been transformed into a $500,000, year-round facility that will accommodate numerous sports including soccer, rugby, ultimate frisbee, minor baseball, lacrosse and track.

Owner Bernie Manning is excited about what the facility has to offer.

"The region is screaming for an indoor facility for traditional outdoor sports," said Manning.

Manning stressed it's a regional facility, "open to whoever wants to use it."

"It had to be a regional facility from me to do well and for everyone to benefit from it," added Manning, who gave particular praise to Mount Pearl city councillor John Walsh for his support of the project.

"I could open it 24 hours if the demand was there. I'm in business. I want to make some money. If I could rent it 24 hours, I would, but right now we have specific hours."

As it stands, the facility will be open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Mondo infill turf system surface is about two-thirds of a regulation soccer pitch.

Washing room and dressing room facilities are left over from when it was a hockey arena.

The Feildians Athletic Association winter program is already committed, along with Mount Pearl, Feildians and Conception Bay South Challenge Cup soccer teams.

"It's another positive boost (for sports) and it's a real benefit to the province," said Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association president Doug Redmond.

"It's very positive for the youth soccer players in the province."

Manning said he thought about taking over the building about five years ago when it was rumoured to be on its way out as a hockey facility with the addition of a new ice surface at the Glacier.

"The City of Mount Pearl was planning to tear it down and turn it into a parking lot," Manning said of the former rink. "Tearing down the facility was insane to me.

"I convinced the city to convert it instead. Contrary to what some people think, it wasn't given to me," he said.

"It went to a public request proposal and I had the best proposal of three submissions."

Manning, a former Challenge Cup soccer player with Mount Pearl, plays masters these days with Holy Cross while coaching the provincial under-15 boys' team.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Feildians Athletic Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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  • Political watcher
    February 20, 2012 - 19:07

    "The City of Mount Pearl was planning to tear it down and turn it into a parking lot," Manning said of the former rink. "Tearing down the facility was insane to me. "I convinced the city to convert it instead Enough said Mr Cheese

  • Political watcher
    February 20, 2012 - 18:23

    To With Cheese; I know of two groups that did approach Council and were discouraged as they were instructed that it is to be torn down (Master Plan Requirements). When they changed their minds they only allowed a very small window to properly prepare an alternate use study (Someone knew they were considering changing their minds). Besides, if Council wanted to follow their past studies they would have converted it to a curling facility; something that two or more previous studies indicated were number one in Citizens choices. Now I will have some more WINE with my cheese thank you.

  • Political watcher
    February 19, 2012 - 18:23

    Smallwood was supposed to be turned down and other groups who inquired about its status were told this. Not sure what changed Council's mind but then again in Mount Pearl it is who you know that counts. P.S. Are there any other PRIVATE businesses who have Council plow and clear their snow? They do.

    • With Cheese
      February 19, 2012 - 20:57

      Maybe if you submitted a proposal you might have had a chance in getting the facility. It was put to the public twice, get on the ball and do some actual watching.

  • gh
    February 19, 2012 - 09:04

    when other associations wanted to take over the smallwood arena that needed it desperately were told it HAD to be torn down,,very odd that now it can stay