Volume 95, Issue 86
Friday, March 15, 2002
Downtown arena to excite
The Knights are on the move and they're charging into the downtown core.
By Oct. 2002, the new home of the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights will be open for business. The arena - located across from the Covent Garden Market between Talbot and Ridout streets - will have a capacity of 9,100 people for hockey games and 10,000 for concerts.
Will this arena be the saviour of London's core or just another sad attempt to rescue the downtown, like the many failures before it?
For students, the arena presents some interesting and tempting offers for their entertainment dollars. Quite simply, the arena will most likely be a venue for two things close to the student's heart - hockey and rock 'n roll.
For many students, it is hard to imagine heading downtown for a reason other than the bar scene. Yet, having an arena downtown could easily lure them to its box office as it resides on major bus routes and is not far removed from campus.
Furthermore, it seems downtown is slowly being nursed back to its once bustling self, with more restaurants, unique stores and jobs moving in slowly but surely. The Covent Garden Market has been a huge success and the new library in the Galleria Mall will hopefully be as successful.
The new arena is just another step in creating a better downtown.
In the past, there has been no place for big name acts to perform close to London's centre. Labatt Park could have been a great venue, but the number of noise complaints from the nearby residential areas would likely create a massive headache for City Hall.
In the core, the arena would not incite the same kind of complaints, since it would reside in a largely commercial area where the din of traffic and everyday city life is commonplace.
Still, some questions about the feasibility of the arena remain. Is it safe to suggest that it will further tax already busy streets? The core is cluttered as it is with one-way streets and narrow roads, not to mention its lack of convenient parking - many believe the arena could clog things up even more.
City Hall could tear down more buildings to create parking spaces in the core, but that would only fix problems of accessibility at the expense of historic buildings and architectural character.
The simplest answer could be encouraging ticket holders to find alternative transportation to the venue, like mass transit.
Many cities have tried to rejuvenate their downtowns, but those attempts have failed miserably.
This does not mean we should give up on London's core. There is already a
diverse amount of activities found in London's downtown and the addition of the
arena will bring in much-needed consumer dollars and, hopefully, enrich the
lives of merchants and customers alike.
Copyright © The Gazette 2002