New arena in the works for Windsor

Year-round rink proposal would help region become an economic driver

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on January 20, 2014
A new state-of-the-art arena is being proposed for an area near Long Pond, the Cradle of Hockey. (File photo)

The Birthplace of Hockey may have a new arena in the not so distant future.

But this arena will be much more than a place to lace up one’s skates.

It will be a tribute to Windsor’s past, and an economic driver that could launch the entire region into a prosperous future.

At least, that’s the plan.

Joe Seagram, headmaster of King’s-Edgehill School, says a small committee was struck in September 2013 to explore the idea of building an arena fitting of the Birthplace of Hockey on or around the school’s property overlooking the legendary Long Pond.

“I think everybody who is connected with hockey in Windsor is concerned about the condition of the current arena and the amount of ice time available and how short the season is,” said Seagram.

The dream is to build an arena that would boast an Olympic-sized ice surface, walking track, fitness centre and must-see Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. Simply stepping inside the building would be an experience in itself.

“It would be an elite centre for sport and wellness,” said Seagram.

“I get really excited when I look at the impact that this vision would have on the area.”

Seagram says the arena would make Windsor the complete package for hockey fanatics — especially if it is constructed along College Road within plain view of the pond many have come to know as the Cradle of Hockey.

“It would be a bucket list arena for the world,” he said.

“How could anybody who ever picked up a hockey stick not want to go to Long Pond?”

The arena would be iced 12 months of the year, and promoted as an ideal location for hockey camps that typically draw local hockey players out of the province.

Seagram says it’s time to keep Nova Scotia’s rising stars in the province, and invite others to train in the Birthplace of Hockey’s year-round facility.

The group behind this project is in the process of developing a business plan and preparing a presentation to share with the public in February.

Seagram says local representatives from all levels of government have expressed support, and even enthusiasm, for the project in conceptual meetings but the funding must be acquired and a public process must be followed before construction can begin.

Seagram sees the developing facility functioning as a tourism draw that does for Windsor what Green Gables does for Prince Edward Island. He envisions it being the catalyst behind a rebranding project for the region that paints Windsor and the surrounding communities as Cooperstown North, a tourist destination with ample opportunities to enjoy a variety of recreational activities, and become immersed in local arts, history and culture.

“All we’ll be really doing is asking people just to imagine, just to try to get a glimpse of the vision,” said Seagram.

“Ask what could be.”

Seagram says people from far and wide travel to Windsor’s twin city to see the birthplace of baseball’s Doubleday Field and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Once in town, the tourists take in the other attractions in the area.

That could be happening in Nova Scotia, Seagram says.

It’s early days in the project yet but, Seagram says, he’d like to see all of the necessary approvals in place soon enough to allow for construction to begin in the summer.

“There’s been too many false starts. This was Howard Dill’s dream,” said Seagram, referring to Windsor’s late Pumpkin King and the owner of the land surrounding Long Pond.

“Let’s make sure that this dream is something that everyone can see come to reality.”

Seagram says he has offered to oversee the operations at the arena if it is built in the proposed location.

“It’s us partnering with the community to make a dream come true.”

Town of Windsor CAO Louis Coutinho and Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley have been involved in preliminary discussions about the project, but the idea has yet to be pitched to council.

“The town is assisting KES in the exploratory stages and concept development and fully supports any initiative that embraces Windsor’s claim to the Birthplace of Hockey,” said Coutinho in an email.

“KES’s vision and concept of an arena adjacent to Long Pond and the inevitable economic impact for the town and this region is exciting,” he added.

A public information session regarding the developing project will be hosted in King’s-Edgehill’s Fountain Performing Arts Centre Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.