The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice is going to spend at least two mores seasons playing in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus at the U of Manitoba.
Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that “the pandemic fallout is complicating plans by the owners of the Ice to build a new arena. . . . That timing, already affected by the slow pace of obtaining zoning approval for the land, has been further delayed by the pandemic.”
If you’re late to this story, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg businessman Greg Fettes, who is the chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, near the end of the 2016-17 season. They left the team in Kootenay for two seasons before moving to Winnipeg, having said that they would build a 4,500-seat arena in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald in time for the 2021-22 season.
“If you’re asking about a change in terms of the current circumstance, obviously I’ve been monitoring what’s happening,” Fettes told Sawatzky. “We don’t know what the hockey landscape’s going to look like after this. So are we taking a step back and making sure we understand that? Yes, absolutely.
“We’re going to do that but for all intents and purposes we’re still on the same track we were on. We’re doing our best to push forward but we are going to pay attention to see how are we going to be able to play games and how does that affect the type of building we build.”
The Ice’s owners say they spent $1.3 million on renovations to the Wayne Fleming Arena prior to moving into it, and now Fettes says there will be more renovating done. But they aren’t going to do anything to enlarge the seating capacity.
The bottom line to this story is that more than three years after the Chynoweth family reached an agreement to sell the franchise, Fettes and Co. have yet to start building the promised new arena. And the WHL now is faced with having a team in the Manitoba capital play at least three seasons in a 1,600-seat facility that was opened in 1981.
According to statistics compiled by the WHL, the Ice averaged 1,512 fans for 31 home games last season. In its last two seasons in Cranbrook that average was 2,214 (2018-19) and 2,442 (2017-18). In 2016-17, the last season under the Chynoweth umbrella, that figure was 1,754.
Sawatzky’s complete story is right here.
Considering the massive hit that the Canadian newspaper industry has taken in the last while, I’d like to tip my hat to Brad and Tracy Brown, the owners of The Quad Town Forum that is, according to its masthead, “devoted exclusively to covering White City, Emerald Park, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, Vibank, Sedley, Francis, Odessa, Montmartre, Kronau & surrounding areas.” . . . That would be in south-eastern Saskatchewan, just a couple of slapshots from Regina. . . . The Forum, which publishes 48 weeks a year, celebrated an anniversary on Thursday — it was No. 5. . . . The Browns went all-in, moving to Sedley and basing the Forum in Vibank, in 2015. You bet they were swimming against the current. . . . Brad has been in the newspaper business since 1999. He spent some time at the Prairie Post in Swift Current and while there covered the Broncos (2012-14). . . . The introduction in that first issue included this: “Newspapers are supposed to be dead. Gone. Extinct. Killed off by TV and the Internet and rock music and teenagers and Conrad Black and the Harlem Shake and SARS and gluten and pretty much anything else you can think of. Yet here we are, excitedly presenting to you the first issue of the Quad Town Forum.” . . . And here they are now, five years later. . . . Well done, and may the press never stop running! . . . Congratulations to the Browns and, yes, I will raise one in their honour at some point this weekend.
If you would like to check out The Forum, it’s all right here. Feel free to travel over there and tour around the site.
Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”
The 10-team Western Canadian Baseball League hopes to open its 2020 season in late June or early July. It had been scheduled to get started in late May. . . . The collegiate league features six teams in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan. . . .
The 2020 Little League World Series has been cancelled, along with 82 qualifying tournaments. Also gone is the MLB Little League Classic that would have seen the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play in Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 23. . . . The tournament was to have run from Aug. 20-30.
If you missed it, here’s part of what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times earlier this week:
“I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.
“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’ “
Questions, I’ve got questions: If the NHL is able to get up and running, say at some point in June or even July, how excited will you be to watch the end of the regular season? . . . Will it matter to you if there are fans allowed into the games? . . . Will it matter to you if the Stanley Cup is presented in late August or at some point in September, and the 2020-21 regular season begins in December? . . . Does it matter to you when the NHL holds its draft — in June or August? . . . Do you get excited at the thought of the NBA gathering its teams at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., to finish its season?
Whatever happened to Andre Dawson, the Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s a mortician and owner of Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Miami. These days, he’s having to learn how to deal with a pandemic. . . . Steven Wine of The Associated Press has more right here.
So much winning . . .