We are getting down to the final days before St. Catharines city councillors will make what is perhaps the biggest decision of this term of office. Show your support and let your councillors know you support a progressive future for St. Catharines that includes a new multi-use entertainment and sports spectator facility. Do your part and Get Involved!Moving into the FutureLeave a legacy
Leave a legacy
It would be tough for many of us today to imagine what it was like in St. Catharines during the Great Depression. Times were tough and jobs were few. But in a spirited effort to build a stronger community, the Garden City Arena was born.
Built in 1938, city residents raised nearly half of the $105,000 construction cost for a downtown arena that could host more than 3,000 people. The Toronto Maple Leafs played in the first game in the new barn, a fundraiser against three different teams that helped raise money for the seats.
Since then, the Garden City Arena became a local cultural icon. It has a long, rich history in junior hockey — twice co-hosting the Memorial Cup — had a stint as a professional hockey arena, has served as a convention floor for the city and has been the backdrop of many a childhood memory for many Niagara residents.
But time is not always kind. The Jack is showing its age. It is not only the smallest and oldest arena in the OHL, it is the oldest arena in the entire Canadian Hockey League.
It’s time for an upgrade.
Like those challenging days in 1938, there are roadblocks that must be overcome. Times are again tough, and unemployment is again high. But as our forefathers worked hard to provide a better life for generations to come, it is time we did the same for our children and grandchildren.
A new St. Catharines Entertainment and Sports Complex would be much more than a hockey arena. Like the Garden City Arena, it would be cultural gathering place for the city, a place where dreams are forged, a place where families and friends bond, a centre for shows and events and meetings and, yes, games.
This is an opportunity for St. Catharines to build something special, to leave its legacy for tomorrow’s generations.
Moving into the Future
The NEW Garden City Complex Entertainment and Sports Spectator Facility
There was a time The Garden City Arena was a jewel, not just in St. Catharines... not just in Niagara... but in the entire province, and even the nation. But that time has passed. The Jack Gatecliff Arena is now the oldest arena in the Canadian Hockey League. What was a jewel has lost its lustre with the passage of time.
“The finest hockey arena anywhere in Ontario
outside of Maple Leaf Gardens.”
former OHA and CAHA president W.A. Fry, 1943
“The Garden City Arena was a social gathering place. It’s a treasure house of history. When I walk into it today, it’s like walking into Maple Leaf Gardens. It does have charm, but its era has passed.”
Author, Garden City Hockey heroes
Freelance hockey writer
“Two things always are always reinforced when I watch the IceDogs live: 1) what good entertainment value it is for the money; 2) how inadequate Jack Gatecliff is as a spectator facility.”
St. Catharines Standard columnist/blogger
April 13, 2011
“Cramped, crowded, and nearly impossible to move around in – that’s the Jack Gatecliff Arena’s interior in a nutshell…. One narrow top concourse is not enough with which to move traffic around, and the gameday closure of the tiny bottom concourses means that you may as well stay in your seat during intermissions.”
St. Catharines Museum - Dan Meighan Collection 1987.171.5
The official program from the opening of The Garden
City Arena on Dec. 20, 1938.