It’s not just an arena.
It’s not just a change room or concession stand.
It’s not just an ice pad.
A community rink is so much more than that. It’s the skills learned with every glide across the ice, the camaraderie and friendships made, it’s the mentorship, the early mornings, the lessons learned and bruises gained, it’s the sights, smells and sounds that envelop your senses as you walk through the doors.
A community ice rink is not just a building but a gathering place that brings athletes, family, friends, recreational thrill seekers and the community together to engage with one another and celebrate achievements. That’s true of Bracebridge’s Memorial Arena. Since 1949, it’s been the town’s sole ice rink that has served as the location for local hockey and skating clubs, community events, a place to gather and so much more.
For Bracebridge native, Kris King, former professional hockey player and current Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the NHL, playing in community arenas was just as important to his hockey career as gliding across the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens.
“Playing in the National Hockey League and at historic arenas was a dream come true. But as great and prestigious as these locations were, they were not as important in my journey as the local rinks I competed in growing up which included Bracebridge’s Memorial Arena. My fondest memories of playing this great game occurred in small-town rinks that were the hub of the community.”
The town of Bracebridge has seen significant growth the past few years and is working to provide the amenities the community needs to be supported for the future. This includes the ambitious Muskoka Lumber Community Centre (MLCC). This 114,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility will provide the community with a multi-purpose venue and multi-generational “social hub” that consolidates community activities and services under one roof. This includes an arena, multi-sport fieldhouse, auditorium, outdoor courtyard, play space and playground that will service individuals and groups of all ages and complement the infrastructure of local schools.
For King, “The Muskoka Lumber Community Centre will continue in the tradition of giving our great town of Bracebridge an amazing new gathering place for families to enjoy. Not only the game of hockey but all the amenities it will have to offer the town.”
The MLCC will also be home to a new 25,000 square-foot Bracebridge Library that will contain so much more than books. This innovative location will house a maker space, recording studio and access to a range of technology and resources.
Perhaps the most ambitious element of this new facility is the cost. While the Town of Bracebridge has received a generous amount of funding from the Provincial government in the amount of $16,862,234 through the Strategic Priorities Infrastructure Fund – Priority Local Infrastructure Stream, the Town is responsible for funding the remaining $58 million dollars to bring this project to life. The Town is making strides forward thanks to the generosity of local organizations and community members who have taken on sponsorship opportunities and naming rights to amenities and features in the facility.
However, there is still a long way to go, which is why the Town has introduced the Best Seat in the House initiative. This legacy fundraising campaign will give sponsors the opportunity to have their name on a seat placard for the next twenty-five years and sales are on the move. Fifteen percent of the proceeds will go towards the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation’s annual capital fundraising campaign for much-needed medical equipment.
For King, sponsoring a seat was an easy decision to make and leaving his family legacy on the facility is a special opportunity. “My dad Dave was such a fixture in these buildings throughout my life. Whether he was coaching, running our summer hockey school or just sitting in the stands to cheer on his children and their friends, when I think of community rinks, I can’t help but think of my dad. My family is proud to support the MLCC by purchasing a seat in memory of David King, and I’m hoping whoever sits in that seat will enjoy the experience as much as he did.”
To learn more about the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre and the available sponsorship opportunities, visit engagebracebridge.ca.