Fort William Gardens
The Fort William Gardens is a 4,690-capacity (3,371-seat) multi-purpose arena, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1951. Previous tenants include the Thunder Bay Flyers, of the 'Junior A' United States Hockey League, the Thunder Bay Senators/ Thunder Bay Thunder Cats, of the Colonial Hockey League (which became the United Hockey League) and the Thunder Bay Twins (senior men's hockey). Since 2001, the Gardens has been home to the Lakehead Thunderwolves men's university hockey program and has also played host to a Superior International Junior Hockey League team. The Thunder Bay Bulldogs called the Gardens home, from 2001 to 2005, then were replaced by the Fort William North Stars.

The Gardens has a long history of hockey, however, the isolation of Thunder Bay and travel costs have prevented the Gardens from retaining most teams. It once hosted an NHL pre-season game in 1993 between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals, and two pre-season AHL games in 2002 with St. John's Maple Leafs vs. Manitoba Moose, and 2 in 2003 with Manitoba Moose vs. Toronto Roadrunners. The Gardens played host to the 1967 Memorial Cup series in which the Toronto Marlboros defeated the Port Arthur Marrs for the national junior hockey championship. The Gardens has also hosted several national curling championships:
  • 1960 Tim Hortons Brier
  • 1976 Women's Canadian Junior Curling Championships
  • 1991 Canadian Mixed Curling Championships.
  • 1996 Scott Tournament of Hearts
  • 2002 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Open (Grand Slam Event)
The arena has hosted concerts, Remembrance Day Ceremonies, festivals, circuses and many other events. The Fort William Gardens was completely renovated in 1995.

The future of the Gardens is uncertain. Most concerts are now performed at the more intimate Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, which seats approximately 1,500. Lakehead University has proposed working with the city to build a new, larger arena and convention centre to replace the Gardens. City council has agreed for the need for such an arena, but believes that the Gardens is still in usable condition. City council turned down the most recent proposal in October 2006. In February 2007, city council decided to lease a new boiler for the facility, holding off a decision to purchase a new one in the event that a replacement is successfully approved. In November 2009, Thunder Bay city manager Tim Commisso put forward a report with a plan to pay for future infrastructure projects, including a $60-million replacement for the Gardens. The report, if approved, would see new rink construction begin in 2013.

Building Activity

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