John Labatt Centre

The John Labatt Centre is a sports-entertainment centre, in London, Ontario, Canada -- the largest such centre in southwestern Ontario. The John Labatt Centre, usually referred to as the "JLC", opened on October 11, 2002. It is named after John Labatt, founder of the Labatt brewery in London. Labatt still has a large brewery in London to the present day, although its head office was moved to Toronto in the early 1990s. The JLC was built, in part, to be the new downtown home of London's Ontario Hockey League team, the London Knights, replacing the 40-year-old London Ice House in the south end of the city, near Highway 401.

Ownership and management
The John Labatt Centre is owned by the London Civic Centre Corporation, an example of a public-private partnership. The Corporation is owned in turn by multiple parties, including The City of London, EllisDon, and Global Spectrum, the Philadelphia-based company that also manages the centre, and operates more than 40 other arenas, stadiums and convention centres. Because of this, the Philadelphia Flyers customarily have played a preseason game at the John Labatt Centre each year.

Seating and ticketing
Approximate capacities:

  • 9,100 - Hockey
  • 9,000 - End stage concert
  • 3,200 - Theatre mode (smaller concert)
  • 2,800 - Theatre mode (with proscenium)
  • 10,200 - Centre stage concert

In addition to the standard end stage configuration for large concerts, the arena can be set up to accommodate touring Broadway shows or smaller concerts in its theatre mode. The theatre mode features a small, intimate atmosphere and a 30-line fly grid to suspend scenery or lighting and sound. The centre features 38 luxury suites and more than 1,000 club seats. The JLC complies with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act and has 55 per cent more public restrooms than required by the law. The arena formerly sold tickets through Ticketmaster. On August 1, 2005, the arena switched ticketing systems and now uses an in-house system, provided by New Era Tickets. The arena is consistently listed in industry magazines for its high ticket sales. In late 2005, Pollstar magazine, a concert industry publication, listed the JLC as 21st on its list of top arena venues in the world, based on ticket sales for the first nine months of 2005. The three-year-old JLC attracted 189,026 concert-goers in the first nine months of 2005.

History, construction and controversy
The John Labatt Centre was built at a cost of approximately $42 million by the London, Ontario-based construction company, EllisDon Corp., builders of Toronto's Rogers Centre. The land was purchased for $10 million. The construction of this sports-entertainment centre was decided upon as a part of the city government's overall effort to revitalize the city's downtown. As part of that effort, London city council committed to building the centre, and agreed to fund much of the cost, which has amounted to about $4.5 million a year in debt financing so far. Another controversial part of the management deal is that while revenue at the centre has been much higher than forecast, the city's share has been minimal, about $100,000 a year, with much of the balance going to the London Civic Centre Corporation, the public-private partnership that owns the arena. Many businesses close to the centre also report that they have benefitted as a result of the increased number of people coming downtown.

The Talbot Inn
The JLC's million-dollar facade at its northeast corner is a replica of the Talbot Inn using "retumbled" yellow brick (new yellow bricks that have been scuffed up and scarred to appear old). The Talbot Inn is a 19th century building that stood on the site for more than 125 years"a designated heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act (facade only via a registered heritage easement). Originally planning to re-use the old bricks from the Talbot Inn on the northeast facade of the JLC, the City of London suddenly had the building demolished on the morning of Sunday, June 3, 2001"without a demolition permit or delisting the Talbot Inn's facade as a designated heritage property. Instead, the City of London had previously obtained a "heritage alteration permit", permits which are routinely used for minor changes to heritage properties, changes that don't affect the by-law reasons for designation. According to officials with the Ontario Heritage Foundation (now called the Ontario Heritage Trust), it is the first known time in Ontario's history and possibly Canada's, that a "heritage alteration permit" was misused to outright demolish a designated heritage property. The rationale cited by civic officials was that the Talbot Inn bricks were not salvageable due to their moisture content after a contractor had power-washed the paint off the bricks. Some of the original bricks, however, were used for the interior walls of the restaurant on the JLC's second level and the rest were trucked to TRY Recycling in London where they were re-sold. No charges were ever laid against the City of London under the Ontario Heritage Act for the unusual demolition and the facade of the Talbot Inn remained designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for approximately 17 months after it was demolished.

The "Talbot Tot"
Prior to the construction of the JLC during an archaeological assessment of the property, the skeletal remains of an infant, believed to be from the 1830s or 1840s, were found in the soil at the site. The discovery caused an uproar and delayed construction for a few months and likely contributed to the sudden demolition of the Talbot Inn in 2001. The human remains were dubbed the "Talbot Tot" and subsequently were reinterred at Oakland (pioneer) Cemetery on Oxford Street West in London.

Sporting events
Within a few years of opening, the London Knights had a spectacular championship season in the 2004-05 season and the centre was well positioned to take maximum advantage of the team's popularity. The JLC hosted the 2005 Memorial Cup, the CHL championship series which the Knights also won after winning the OHL championship. The University of Western Ontario Mustangs hockey team used the JLC as their home arena from 2005 until 2007. They have since moved back to Thompson Arena. In addition to hockey, the JLC is host to national-level events, such as the 2005 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts (curling),the 2007 World Synchronized Skating Championships, 2011 Tim Hortons Brier, as well as a wide variety of family entertainment such as Disney on Ice, the Harlem Globetrotters, Monster Jam, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestling, and Stars on Ice. It also hosted an international jousting tournament two years in a row. The arena will also be hosting the 2013 World Figure Skating championships.

Other events
The arena has also hosted many other well known artists and Broadway Shows. Sting performed during his Symphonicities Tour on July 21, 2010, along with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other Shows Date Disney on Ice Feb. 3,4,5 & 6 Moulin Rouge Feb. 16 Monster Jam Feb. 19 & 20 2011 Tim Hortons Brier Mar. 5-13 Sarah McLachlan Mar. 19 Professional Bull Riders Canada Cup Series Apr. 2 Harlem Globetrotters Apr. 10 Jackson Browne Apr. 18 Stars on Ice May 1 Grease May 3 MMA Live May 19 Blue Man Group July 6 & 7 Keith Urban Sep. 12 Micheal Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil October 18 & 19

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