The Legionnaires Junior Hockey Club loves its home ice at Pat Stapleton Arena but the condition of its dressing rooms and showers is unacceptable, says a spokesperson for the team.
Noeleen Tyczynski said the arena’s façade seen by the public was renovated in 2018 and is “beautiful,” but the “back of the house” has crumbling plaster, “unsuitable” shower areas, no door on its only toilet for the players, and mould.
The arena – affectionately known as The Brock Street Barn – is an historic icon in Sarnia but is badly in need of upgrades, Tyczynski told council recently.
Estimates suggest that about $85,000 is needed to remediate the dressing room, showers and washrooms used by the players, she said.
The Legionnaires are willing to pledge $25,000 toward it if city council will approve the $60,000 balance in its 2023 budget, said Tyczynski who is a former board member for the junior B hockey club.
“We want to be part of the solution,” she said, noting that the Legionnaires have already contributed about $90,000 to upgrade the building in recent years. That money has been spent on dressing room improvements, four big screen TVs for the community room and to help with a new roof.
The club’s commitment to contribute another $25,000 hinges on reaching a user agreement with the city, said Tyczynski.
“We hope to remain (at Pat Stapleton Arena) for years to come,” she said, “…but it’s difficult to commit more without a user agreement.”
The arena opened in 1948 and has been a hub for sports and entertainment in Sarnia for many years. More than 30 professional hockey players launched their careers there including Phil Esposito and Dino Cicarelli.
“City staff has done their utmost to address ongoing concerns,” said Tyczynski, but there have been complaints of mould in the shower since at least 2016.
The Legionnaire’s request for upgraded shower, dressing room and washroom facilities will be discussed during council’s 2023 budget deliberations Jan. 10.
Meanwhile, $40,000 will be spent on mould remediation later this month, confirmed Stacey Forfar, the city’s general manager of community services.
In answer to The Journal’s inquiries, Forfar said two public washrooms are being retrofitted in 2023 at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena (PASA) where the Sarnia Sting Jr. A team plays. She called that a pilot project to test “quality, durability and feel” before any decisions are made about retrofitting any other city arenas.
“Our arenas are bustling public recreational spaces that deserve quality fixtures and should feel like the wonderful spaces they are for both players and supporters that frequent them,” Forfar wrote in an email.
“We are also actively planning for significant capital investments in the future for all of our arenas.”
In 2021, accessible seating was installed at Pat Stapleton Arena, eavestrough and downspout work was completed and a condenser unit was replaced. This year, the city installed new rubber flooring for the Legionnaires. If approved by council, $100,000 is in the 2023 budget to lay more rubber flooring in the public change room hallway. But there’s nothing further planned.
“We appreciate the Legionnaire’s passion for their club and we continue to work with them to solidify a professional agreement for their exclusive use area,” wrote Forfar.
She provided a summary of the money spent by council since 2021 to upgrade the city’s three arenas:
PASA – $1.5 million (2021); $1.4 million (2022); $1.59 million (planned for 2023).
Clearwater – $325,000 (2021); $1 million (2022); $200,000 (planned for 2023).
Pat Stapleton – $228,000 (2021); $50,000 (2022); $100,000 (planned for 2023).