WINDSOR, N.S. — Danny Dill was a little out of his element, slinging drinks behind the bar instead of tending to his pumpkin farm, but he was doing it for a cause he believes in.
The final stretch of the fundraising campaign for the Windsor Hockey Arena Project was launched at the Spitfire Arms Pub on June 14, with proceeds from some of the drinks going towards the effort.
“We’re starting to see some progress and we can do something exciting for Windsor, the community, and the whole province,” Dill said.
The local celebrity bar tender was slinging Caesars and ‘Long Pond Ale,’ which reportedly tastes a lot like Olands.
“I don’t think I’m going to make it,” Dill joked as he poured some beer into a glass.
“But I’m getting lots of compliments,” he said.
“Beer and hockey goes together.”
Jeff Redden, who is handing up the fundraising effort, said he’s feeling optimistic they can meet their $2.5 million goal, especially since they’re now nearly halfway there.
A big reason for that is a $600,000 donation from King’s-Edgehill School.
“We’re almost there when you look at the big picture of things, with the provincial money, the municipal money and what we’ve raised,” Redden said. “As of tonight, we are just over $1 million.”
Redden said a lot of the funding has come in from private businesses in the surrounding community.
Donations of $25,000 have come in from Home Hardware, which Redden is an owner of, Pothier Motors, the Spitfire Arms Pub, Oulton Fuels, Tim Hortons, Pharmasave, Evangeline Trust, The Dill Farm, and Kevin Walsh Dentistry. Windsor Physiotherapy donated $10,000.
“We’re really close,” Redden said. “The real urgency is our deadline of Sept. 30.”
So far none of the donations have secured naming rights to the building, but Redden said they’ll be pitching that to the corporate world.
The arena seat and puck sales are also underway, bringing in more than $50,000 so far, Redden said.
“I’m very optimistic. So far I’ve been to 10 businesses and nine said yes,” he said. “That’s pretty good for a small community. People want this to happen.”
Redden said he’s hoping the province and the federal government will both pitch in one third of the cost of the project. The province previously announced $3-million, but hasn’t said if they would increase that commitment to $4.2 million. The total proposed cost of the arena build is estimated to be $12.6 million.
A large hockey stick will soon be constructed and installed by Cam Hartley, owner of Schoolhouse Brewery, in Windsor highlighting the fundraising target.
If it’s built, full operation and ownership of the arena will fall to the Town of Windsor to bear.
No strings attached
King’s-Edgehill School’s headmaster, Joe Seagram, said their contribution to the project comes with zero string attached, including no naming rights or dressing rooms specifically for KES students.
The donation comes in the form of $600,000 in funding and availability of the KES land where the arena will sit, and access from College Road, Seagram said.
The land in question was previously purchased by the private school from the Dill family. Seagram said they initially had their own ideas in mind for the property until the arena project was selected for the Long Pond site.
“It’ll be a completely separate parcel of land from the school, (it will be) owned and operated by the Town of Windsor,” Seagram said.
“This donation has everything to do with the fact that this facility will be good for the community of Windsor and West Hants,” he said. “I truly believe there’s a rising tide of confidence in this community, we’re just at the point where we can really make this a destination community for businesses and families.”
The school is also donating approximately $200,000 worth of upgrades to the GFL Recreation Centre in Brooklyn, through a new dehumidification system, a fitness facility and two dressing rooms.
Windsor Mayor Anna Allen thanked KES for the donation, saying the whole arena project started with them.
“Things changed over time, where the municipality had to be in charge of it, all of that history,” she said. “Now for them to come forward with this kind of money and no expectations other than continuing to use it like they do now, I’m very excited about that.”