An about-face for Smallwood Arena

John Browne
Published on February 18, 2012

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.