March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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JLC hits the big time

Now that the John Labatt Centre has had some time to settle into its London home and residents have had time to get used to the fact there is a huge new venue in town, it’s time to take a look at what the JLC has added to the Forest City.

There were some legitimate initial criticisms of the JLC, including concerns about the lack of parking around the venue and whether it would actually draw any decent acts to London.

The JLC, however, has proven its worth in spades and has done a lot to revitalize our somewhat drowsy downtown.

First, it’s the new home of the London Knights, and it’s a hell of a sight better than the old Ice House, the little hole-in-the-wall arena shoved over between the 401 exit and McDonald’s. Bringing the team to a bigger and more easily-accessible venue has done wonders for the Knights’ fan support, bringing more Londoners to cheer them on.

The JLC has also encouraged bigger musical acts, like 50 Cent, Nickelback and David Bowie to book shows in London. Pre-JLC, these artists would surely have overlooked a town whose best offering in the venue category was Centennial Hall.

The arena offers a great alternative for London concert-goers, who previously had to make the trip to Toronto in order to see big-name bands. Though tickets for JLC shows tend to be pricy, it is still a better deal than having to pay for gas or a bus to Toronto.

In addition, the venue brings in people from surrounding towns in southwest Ontario, as London is situated right between Toronto and Windsor.

The JLC has definitely benefited the London economy, especially downtown businesses. People who go to see shows or sporting events can visit a restaurant or coffee shop while they wait for the doors to open. In fact, the Covent Garden Market is situated right across the street from the venue and has been one of the biggest benificiaries.

There has also been a wide variety of acts coming to the JLC. From Tom Jones to Disney on Ice, there has been something for everyone.

The John Labatt Centre was ranked 38th among major world venues in Pollstar’s 2003 concert venue rankings, which are based on ticket sales. It was also ranked the third biggest ticket-selling venue in Canada.

Obviously, the JLC has proven its worth, and most students would probably agree that it’s about time a venue of this calibre came to London. With the huge market of Western and Fanshawe College students in the city, it makes sense to have a venue like this — one that not only offers a better, more permanent home for the Knights, but also brings in the big names of the entertainment world.



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