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Wednesday, December 7, 2011


By a decisive 9-3 vote St Catharines council approved a new entertainment facility on Monday night, marking the biggest date in Ice Dogs history.  The threats of the Ice Dogs leaving town if they were not part of the new facility was not an idle one.  Bill and Denise Burke love their hockey, but first and foremost they are business people and the revenue streams out the Jack Gatcliffe arena were somewhat limited.   A few things come to the forefront now:

1. The proposed completion of the building is to be January of 2014, and hopefully the time lines can be met.   Promotion wise  its in the best interest of the region to have the building open on time.  Hopefully there is a run on shovels at the local Canadian Tire as the catch phrase should change from Let's Build It to Let's Start Building It!

2. There have been a lot of promises that this will be an entertainment facility as opposed to a hockey arena. I'm sure that the marketing group running the facility will do the necessary leg work to make this true.   Mid-level concerts, trade shows, wrestling are all a reality along with the boost from sporting events.   Heck, Neil Diamond is playing Toronto June 26th.  Why not live large and have a Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and Paul Anka triple bill!! If that were the case my fellow broadcasters Ed Burkholder and Al Galloway will be pre-ordering concert T-Shirts!

3. Along with the Niagara Ice Dogs, the St. Catharines Falcons and Brock Badgers expect to be additional tenants.  Hopefully the complex can be seamlessly adapted into a basketball facility.  The arena could then attract OCAA, OUA and CIS hoop events and maybe even a professional team in the fledgling all-Canadian NBL.

4. There might be a move to change the name from Niagara to St Catharines Ice Dogs.  This would more reflect the revitalization of downtown.  While the Ice Dogs have been marketed as a regional team, it makes sense to localize the name.

Better late than never is the old adage. Here are the highlights from Niagara's 4-3 SO loss to the suddenly viable and resurgent Barrie Colts.  Barrie came back from a 3-1 deficit to nip the Dogs.  After a tough 1st year, Dale Hawerchuk's message seems to be sinking in to the Colts, but did you expect anything else from the Hall of Famer?


  1. Most of the OHL broadcasters call the team the "Niagara Falls IceDogs" so a change might be good...but I like the Niagara handle. And Jan 2014? Should be slated for Sep 2013.

  2. Good news indeed all around.
    As for the name change, Bill Burke has already been on radio stating he is opposed to the idea. I live in St. Catharines and I would like "Niagara" to be kept. From day 1 the IceDogs have been promoted as a team for the whole region. Why change that now?
    I think a summer to fall 2014 opening is probably going to be more realistic. There always seems to be delays in construction. Look at our existing projects for examples of that. As long as it gets done, I'm OK with it.

  3. RykinZoltron: Funny! I hear that too. I guess some broadcasters are stuck in the late 80's early 90's time warp. It would be nice to get it open for Sept. 2013, but lots of work to be done.

    Slamr: I can see both sides of the name equation. St Catharines may like regional money coming into their city if the Niagara name is kept. I'm not sure if those outside of St Kitts don't come because the name is no longer regional.

  4. I hear you one really knows for sure how a name change would affect attendance. To be honest, if they changed it, I wouldn't lose any sleep but I prefer it to be kept as is.
    I did read an interview from Mr. Burke and he said after 4 years of life in this area he has learned an awful lot about the parochialism that infests this region. He's worried about a loss in merchandise sales to outside communities because of the "St. Catharines" label. I dunno...maybe.

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