Athletics move into new home
The St. Catharines Athletics are entering a new chapter in their long and storied history.
The A’s open the 2022 Ontario Junior Lacrosse League schedule Wednesday, May 11 versus the Peterborough Lakers at their new home at the Canada Games Park and Walker Sports and Abilities Centre.
“It’s fresh and exciting, but it’s also a lot of work,” A’s general manager Jeff Chcoski said. “It feels like a new beginning.”
The A’s got their first look at the $102.7 million facility earlier this week when they practised there for the first time and Chcoski said the reaction was an unanimous thumbs-up.
“It feels so wide open with all the windows and lighting,” Chcoski said. “When we were in the main hallway getting ready the sun was beaming down on you. It’s a really cool experience to be in that building and that’s what we want to bring to the fans who are coming.
“It’s going to be an experience of being in a top-notch facility.”
Chcoski reports the Athletics will have their own change room and coach’s room and access to the laundry facilities. The facility will also be the home of the Brock Badgers men’s and women’s hockey teams.
“It’s an incredible facility,” Chcoski said. “It just seems to go on forever and ever.”
The A’s will open the season on a concrete floor but by the end of the month portable artificial turf will be installed in both pads.
The project was jointly funded by: the Government of Canada; the Government of Ontario; the Canada Games Park Consortium partners, Niagara Region, City of Thorold, City of St. Catharines and Brock University; and a generous $3 million contribution from the Walker family.
The 210,000-square-foot facility includes: two NHL-sized arenas, one with seating for 1,200 and the other with seating for about 200; a 6,000-square foot Sport Performance Centre on the second floor that will provide training and testing services for high-performance and developing athletes and coaches in multiple sports; a 10,000-square foot Brock-Niagara Health and Well-Being Centre on the first floor, providing fitness and educational programs for Niagara residents, with a focus on persons with special needs and seniors; a multipurpose fieldhouse with four gymnasiums that can be configured into a centre court with about 700 telescoping permanent seats; a 200-metre track above the field house that meets International Association of Athletics Federation world standards; and, 8,000-square feet of office space.
“We understand this season is more about the Canada Games than the lacrosse,” Chcoski said. “They’re really focused on that and we get that.”
Chcoski gave props to A’s locker room attendant Bob McLaren for his hard work as the team transitions from Jack Gatecliff Arena, which is slated to be closed this year.
“Bob has been working his tail off going between both buildings,” Chcoski said.
Chcoski said leaving Gatecliff Arena is bittersweet.
“I would love to play out of The Jack for one more summer — we have so many memories — but when you walk into the new facilities it’s just, ‘Wow’. It’s wow with everything.
“I’ve spent half my life at The Jack with the Falcons and the Junior A’s and we’ll miss it forever but when you transition into this new place, it truly feels like a pro facility.”
A’s acorns: The St. Catharines Athletics junior B squad will also play their home games out of the new facility after starting the season at Bill Burgoyne Arena . . . Chcoski indicated he is working with assistant general manager Sean Howe on finalizing the roster for early next week.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 4,000 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.