|Fort William Gardens|
|Location|| 901 Miles Street|
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada P7C 1J9
|Owner||City of Thunder Bay|
|Tenants|| Lakehead Thunderwolves (Ice hockey)(2001-Present)|
Fort William North Stars (Hockey)(2005-Present)
Fort William Figure Skating Club
|Capacity|| Fixed Arena Seating 3,371|
Total Capacity 4,690
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 between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals, and two pre-season AHL games between the St. John's Maple Leafs and Manitoba Moose.
The Gardens has also hosted several national curling championships:
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 $70 to 128 million replacement for the Gardens. The report, was approved in principle, and plans are now underway to decide on the right location.
The Winnipeg Jets have reportedly interested in placing their American Hockey League affilate in the new arena that has been in the works. The team initially placed their AHL affiliate in St. John's, NL when the NHL team relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. They would later move the affiliate back to Winnipeg sharing the MTS Centre with the NHL team when the opportunity arose for them to get out of their lease in St. John's for the 2015-16 season.
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