According to multiple sources, the Niagara IceDogs new home, the Meridian Centre, is scheduled to open on time but unfortunately will open after the IceDogs’ first regular season home game.
On Wednesday, the IceDogs issued a press release stating:
The Niagara IceDogs, in conjunction with the Ontario Hockey League, announced today that their Thursday, October 2nd home game against the Mississauga Steelheads has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 13th at 7pm. The change comes as a result of the fact that the Meridian Centre will not be ready in time for the game on October 2nd.
With this rescheduling, the IceDogs 2014-15 home opener and the first game at the Meridian Centre will be Thursday, October 16th at 7:00pm against the Belleville Bulls.
This led many to believe that the arena was behind schedule. However, multiple sources at St. Catharines City Hall have confirmed that the arena is not behind schedule and will open on time. One city official told me that the opening of the arena is not delayed and that the OHL booked the IceDogs’ home opener without consulting the city.
This was confirmed by city councillor Matt Siscoe who tweeted:
— Mathew Siscoe (@MatSiscoe) August 14, 2014
This also seems to be in line with information I received earlier this year that the first event at the arena would be a concert on Friday, October 3rd followed by the IceDogs’ home opener the following night.
However, I have to wonder if timelines are really so tight that a hockey game on October 2nd is out of the question but that the arena will be ready for a concert on October 3rd. If a concert was scheduled for October 2nd, would the arena still not be ready to open until October 3rd? Equally puzzling is the fact that the OHL schedule was released June 15th and now, almost two months later, the IceDogs are forced to cancel what could arguably be the most anticipated hockey game since the IceDogs’ inaugural home opener at the Jack Gatecliff Arena almost seven years ago.
The city has done a superb job in planning for this facility. Construction of the arena has gone for the most part without a hitch. The facility remains on time and on budget. However, now the Meridian Centre’s first event has been cancelled, leaving many IceDogs fans disappointed.
This was not the way the Meridian Centre was suppose to open.