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Preserving Belleville’s Memorial Arena

Arena DigestIt’s not the flashiest of venues, but over the past 83 or so years Belleville Memorial Arena has been at the center of civic life in the medium-sized Ontario community. And even though the place is falling apart — it’s temporarily closed because of an equipment failure — a group of community volunteers want to take on the task of keeping it open.

Construction of Memorial Arena started in October 1929 and was bought by the city in 1946, when the arena was given its present name. The goal was to honor World War II veterans with a constant presence in the community.

The very nature of an arena means there’s a lot of wear and tear on the infrastructure, and given the popularity of Memorial Arena it sounds like everyone in town learned to skate there — it’s a little surprising the place has lasted so long. Despite some spending to fix the cooling system, there were technical issues forcing the arena to close down, leading city officials to wonder about the future.

The Belleville Memorial Arena Preservation Society is ready to step in and possibly help raise money as well as analyze the arena’s financials. The city, for its part, says there’s been no decisions about the future of the arena behind closed doors. Raising money will be the key: modernization means a decent capital investment.

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