The Essex Memorial Arena is an ice-hockey arena in Essex, Ontario, Canada. It was constructed in 1960-1961, and served as the home court for the Essex 73's of the Great Lakes Junior C Hockey League from 1973–2009. During that time the 73's won 16 Great Lakes League Championships and a Provincial record 6 All Ontario Titles, The 2008–2009 season was to be the final year for the 73's at the Essex Memorial Arena and in that year the 73's captured the All Ontario crown finishing with a perfect 31-0 record in the Arena. The Arena will remain open for Essex Minor Hockey. A replacement arena was completed in September 2009.
The first records mentioning the potential of an artificial rink for Essex are from the mid 1950s. The idea grew and by March 1956 the Parks Board created an Arena Committee, which it named the Essex Memorial Arena Campaign Committee, and appointed members from the Essex Rotary Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Kinsmen Club of Essex. The Kinsmen Club of Essex were the first to initiate a challenge to the town to raise $50,000. The name of the arena was one of the first issues addressed. It was decided that it would be called Essex Memorial Arena as a way to honour the men who had fought and died in World War I and World War II.
Indoor or outdoor arena?Edit
The first arena proposed by the committee was an outdoor arena. An outdoor arena could only function from December 1 to April 15. Its design was so a roof could be easily added. The committee soon changed the original proposal from an outdoor arena to a closed arena due to economic benefits. It was $15,000 more expensive for the freezing equipment for an outdoor rink than for an indoor rink, and the utility cost for the outdoor rink would have been much higher. Another bonus to having an indoor rink was the longer skating season; 6 months compared to 4½. With 10,000 people in the area surrounding Essex it would not take long before the arena would pay for itself.
Completing the constructionEdit
The Essex community was not completely supportive of the arena building project. They feared the arena would increase water rates in town, and that the arena was an unsafe structure. By the fi nal stages of construction funds were drying up and $100,000 would be needed to complete it. Many felt that the project was just too big for the town. On June 19, 1961 the town went to the polls to settle the issue, voting 551 to 392 in favour of the arena loan. The loan was obtained and the building was completed within the year. The walls were made of 12” (30.5 cm) thick reinforced masonry blocks. The roof is supported by eleven trusses. The arena has heated dressing rooms, a canteen and 1054 seats. It took roughly 937 days to fully complete the arena. The Essex Memorial Arena Campaign Committee was then dissolved and the town took control and created an Arena Commission.
The arena officially opened on November 25, 1961.
Essex Memorial Arena to Remain Open until 2014Edit
August 2011 it was passed by the Essex Town council and LakeShore Town council that the Essex Memorial Arena would remain open for 3 more hockey seasons. Roof repairs needed to be done to the Old Arena, once completed the Arena will be used until at least 2014.
- Essex Free Press archives
- Essex Municipal Records
- Kinsmen Club of Essex Archives