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Mully has Olympic-sized dreams for Timmins' proposed new rec facility

Not only does he back a new complex, he's taking a shot at what it should be named

The first plans for a proposed multi-use recreation facility are out and I've started getting calls, emails and texts.

“Well, Mully?” is the main comment.

Well contrary to what some people may think, I am 100 per cent behind and in support of a new state-of-the-art sports complex. I think some people feel that because of my ongoing efforts to have the Mac designated as a historical site, I am somehow opposed to a new facility. 

Not so. It is about preserving history and culture. Keeping the Mac as an active ingredient in our local sports scene being expressed in the master plan has me in even bigger support of a new complex. Especially a pool. I don't use a pool. But this city definitely needs a more modern model either to co-exist or replace the current iteration.

This column and its predecessor have always been about promoting athletic achievements of Timmins athletes and always will. It is also a voice for people who have concerns or ideas about local recreation. And without any bravado it has sparked debate and discussion about local sports in and outside of our community. I and most of my readers are passionate sports people who care a huge amount about our communities sports and recreation. That includes its deficiencies, warts  and sore points. It also includes its benefits, highlights, efficiencies and continuation. (Future). When people ask, I answer. (Unless it's ludicrous … like how to fix the Leafs!)

Notice to readers: The following is my own opinion. It is based solely on what I think. Some of you asked. So here goes.

Oh ya. One other thing. I have had numerous discussions with people with skin in the game and those on the outside. Neither will be reflected here.

It's a lot of money. Yes, it can't come solely out of the city coffers and needs upper levels of government to be a reality. But if that support ever comes to fruition it is doable. The citizens of Timmins will ultimately decide on what we can realistically afford. Without a doubt, the determining factor will be what does the population support? It may need scaling back, fine as is or maybe even more. 

The Highway 655 option appears to be the preferred site in the plan. To me, it is the one I very much prefer. Almost every community is doing all it can to make its marquee rec facility centralized. (See Sudbury and any potential new NHL, NBA, MLB or entertainment venues.) Just about any site is going to require lots of site prep and probably adds to the cost. That's a Northern Ontario fact. If the 655 area's land meets spec, I hope that is where it would go. I can see a service road that connects the new site with the Mac. Wouldn't that make for a jewel of future event hosting? Maybe. But right now I just hope we can get it built.

I have written about this one before and I really believe it needs consideration. 

Almost every multiplex facility built recently or planned to be built has one thing in common. An Olympic-sized ice surface. Research shows me this.

“The Whatever You Call It Centre” features a pool, gym, track, and one (or two, three or four) regulation ice surfaces and one Olympic-sized sheet, usually in the larger seating capacity rink. Regulation ice (NHL) is 85 feet by 200 feet as a standard. Olympic is 100 feet by 200 feet as a standard. Here is where that part gets interesting. A number of facilities that say Olympic-sized are actually hybrid models. They may appear in the following dimensions — 90 x 200, 95 x 200 or increments in between. The Gerry McCrory (Countryside) Arena in Sudbury is 96 x 208, according to the City of Sudbury Arena Guide. The NOJHL and Greater North U18 teams there play out of that rink. I don't think Sudbury has ever advertised it as Olympic-sized, but we all know it's bigger than a standard ice sheet.

Some other Ontario Municipalities with 85 x 200 rinks in conjunction with Olympic or hybrid ice are Mississauga, Chatham, North York where York U plays, Waterloo, London, Hamilton, Newmarket. Ottawa and Fort Erie. The Belleville Senators AHL team plays on an Olympic ice surface at home and then NHL standards on the road. The recent Centennial Cup National Junior A Championships were hosted by Oakville at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, where the main ice surface is billed as Olympic-sized.

I was on the phone a few times this past weekend with a gentleman who works with former and current NHLers. And one thing he pointed out was both groups agree today's players are so much bigger and faster up and down the lineup. 

One of the proponents of bigger ice surfaces is player safety. Pretty good consideration, don't you think? The NHL does not use the larger ice surfaces, is what some people may reply. At least for now. Of all the kids playing hockey in Canada less than one per cent will get to the NHL. So wouldn't a bigger ice surface be a great place for kids from PeeWee to Tier 2 Junior to play in a safer environment where they can develop and showcase their skills be wildly beneficial?

So if we are about to embark on a potential new facility, wouldn't an eye to the future be wise to think about today? It's pretty obvious by the examples provided above that a lot of other places are consolidating a bigger ice surface into a multiplex.If I was a 16-year-old playing today I would love to be able to play on at least a hybrid-sized rink. Hey wait a minute. Why don't we do like Don Cherry once told us at a hockey symposium? Ask the kids  They are the ones who will be on the ice the most … I could go on and on about this, and some of you will say, “You already have.”

I would just like to see the idea at least discussed. At least in my humble opinion.

And, yes, I know some places have moved away from the big surfaces, but that has to do more with a myriad of reasons for a future column.

I've pitched this idea before both in public and to people who have a say in the matter.

But all in all, I really hope that Timmins can secure a new facility to enhance our future recreation needs. We need something. Does it need to be something we can afford? Of course. Few would dispute that. A feasible sports complex is an important part of our community. 

I'm assuming the debate will take on a new phase when it is presented to council tonight.

The pool and other components of a new centre can best be addressed by people more proficient than I in that area.

One last thing. If and when this new facility gets done I would like to see one other thing. 

For it to be called the Bill Barilko Sports Centre. I'm sure there will be other names pitched.

If the Archie Dillon Sportsplex were proposed to be shuttered then out of respect the name should be transferred to a new facility. If it is to remain open in some capacity, then a new name would be in order for a new building. And I would like to see Bill receive that honour at last. Nothing here bears his name .

Next week I'll have some exciting news about a local hockey product who recently added to his extensive and impressive resume.

Later Skater

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