Lack Of Arena Halted Chatham’s OHL Bid

Chatham Memorial Arena

Chatham’s Memorial Arena is not suitable for an OHL franchise – Photo by Helen Heath/ Chatham Maroons

Chatham didn’t get the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers…Flint, Michigan did.

Why? Chatham’s lack of a suitable arena. Not just Chatham’s lack of the physical building, but also Chatham’s lack of a plan, and unwillingness to format a plan for a new arena.

Jim-Parker-OHL-Tweet“Peter Karmanos said political will to build a new rink in Chatham is what ultimately killed the potential move of Plymouth #Whalers.”

This was a Tweet by Windsor Star sports reporter Jim Parker, who was covering the move for his paper. Parker also Tweeted, “Peter Karmanos said move of Plymouth #Whalers to Chatham was strongly considered. He would have stayed owner.”

So, not only could we not get our ducks in a row, but we lost out on having an NHL franchise owning, business mogul invest in our town. Frustrating.

The real kicker is, Chatham-Kent council pledged to make a plan for a new arena in April 2013. That’s 21 months ago, from today, exactly. That was when the Erie Otters were looking at Chatham as an OHL option. Here’s what Chatham-Kent staff were directed in that report.

“Council direct staff to develop a sound business plan to build an arena suitable for community recreation, sports, tourism and the attraction of an OHL franchise.”


So why didn’t we do the plan? Cost? Nope. Here’s what the original directive said about the cost of making the report.

“There are minimal financial impacts in proceeding with the proposed process to develop a high level business plan since it involves internal resources. Recommendations coming back will outline applicable financial impacts.”


Multi-million dollar business comes to town, you aren’t successful in luring them, Chatham-Kent staff is directed to make a plan to assure this doesn’t happen again, no one does it, another multi-million dollar business comes to town, they choose another town because no plan in place, someone gets fired for not doing their job…oops that last part didn’t happen. Probably should have though, unless there is a report out there the public and media hasn’t seen.

Here’s a new directive. Actually make the plan, actually proceed with funding for a new arena from various levels of government. That way, when another multi-million dollar business and investor calls, we can be ready. If OHL’s teams have been to Chatham a minimum of 5 times during our current Mayor, and many councillors’ terms, and we’ve struck out each time, we have a problem.

Time to actually fix it.

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  • comment-avatar
    Uly Bondy 7 years

    Questions must be asked to Administration and Council as to why this report was never completed! And soon!

  • comment-avatar
    Weirdandwild 7 years

    This is but another example where the municipal management doesn’t follow instructructions and does not have the foresight to plan past the end of their noses or their attempt at building a personal legacy. Mr. Strophoshire should be taken to task by municipal council for not executing his directions. The Recreation department should be taken to task for not building anything into their “strategic plan” except for increasing the level of bureaucracy and red tape in addition to the rental fees and cutting services, especially a plan to market the facilities to increase their use. Just because they have the corner on the market doesn’t mean that they should be sitting on their hands because they have taxpayers and fewer and fewer users to sting with the increasing costs. There is a whole lot of blame to go around, and it lies with the bureaucrats who aren’t doing their job.

  • comment-avatar
    rick 7 years

    what would you expect money for a friggen theater they gave away and people still go out and vote for these #$#%&$ .stupid is a habit that some times hard to break

  • comment-avatar
    Brady 7 years

    I know the hockey fans of Chatham-Kent would love an OHL team but I don’t know that Chatham-Kent could support a team long-term. I don’t see 4000+ people paying $17+ a ticket consistently. I think there will be a couple thousand fans a night but that doesn’t provide the revenue necessary to run a successful OHL franchise. An OHL team would also cripple all the Jr B and C teams that have been around for years. Chatham-Kent definitely needs to build a new multi-pad facility but I don’t think one should be built in hopes that it will attract an OHL team. Build one to support the teams that are currently here and to support the further development of local talent.