Growlers could move to new home outside St. John’s as nearby mayors show interest

The Newfoundland Growlers are still looking for a permanent home after losing their arena in St. John’s earlier this year. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Businessman Dean MacDonald says he’s considering building a new arena for Newfoundland Growlers outside St. John’s, and communities around the county’s capital are watching closely.

MacDonald — owner of Deacon Sports and Entertainment and the ECHL Growlers — hinted at the move to the Mount Pearl-Paradise chamber of commerce last week.

The Growlers are seeking permanent shelter after being shaken out of the city-owned Mary Brown’s Center in downtown St. John’s over allegations against Deacon Sports employees for workplace misconduct.

Where a new arena could open is unknown at this time, but the mayors of Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South are open to the idea of ​​having the ice rink in their backyard and the potential economic boost that comes with it. .

They also keep their distance from the unfolding drama between Deacon Sports and the city of St. John’s, with all three not commenting on whether the situation would deter collaboration with the company.

“It comes down to, I think at the end of the day, the best fit. The economy will be determined by the Growlers organization in terms of what they want to build. I can say that the city of Mount Pearl does not want to own an arena with 4,000 to 6,000 seats,” Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker told CBC Radios The St. John’s Morning Show Wednesday.

“But of course, as a community that is really focused on hockey and small sports, as well as economic development, we would certainly take the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation.”

Growlers owner Dean MacDonald last week announced his ideas for what could be a new arena to be built somewhere on the Avalon Peninsula. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Mount Pearl is St. John’s closest neighbor and had held Growlers’ drills at the Glacier Arena earlier this month ahead of the team’s first home stand.

Aker said the city has had internal discussions about the idea of ​​bringing the Growlers to Mount Pearl, but so far nothing directly with the organization itself.

He said the city is also willing to put small hockey aside for the short term if the Growlers want to play their next home leg from Mount Pearl against the Reading Royals on December 1, just as Conception Bay South did for the team members. first six home games of this season.

Land available, open for business

A privately owned arena would mean MacDonald and Deacon Sports will have complete control over their operations, from staffing and programming to revenue streams. It would also mean that municipal personnel will not be involved, unlike the Mary Brown’s Center, which employs staff under St. John’s Sports and Entertainment and which brought the allegations against Deacon Sports.

Conception Bay South Mayor Darrin Bent told CBC News that MacDonald was actively exploring land during the recent Growlers home stall in his community.

“We’re very interested in seeing what’s possible between Deacon Sports and the city. If they want to set up a new arena somewhere, we think we’re the best possible solution for them,” Bent said.

“We’ve had some conversations with Dean MacDonald and let him know that we’re open to any investment he has on his plate that he wants to make… He told me he’s had a spin, that he’s having a look. “

The Growlers played six games at CBS Arena this year. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

In Paradise, Mayor Dan Bobbett said the city would help with any sale of land to MacDonald if needed.

Paradise hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs – the parent club of the Growlers – training camp in 2019.

“We’d love to have it in Paradise, without a doubt, and we’d love to have Paradise the Growlers’ home,” Bobbett said.

“There is a lot of land available in Paradise for such a facility…To our knowledge, discussions have taken place with private landowners and Deacon Sports and Entertainment.”

As for Mount Pearl, Aker said there is land available near the current Glacier Arena that was partially dedicated to a new hotel.

Meanwhile, the Growlers were able to find themselves back at Mary Brown’s Center despite an ongoing investigation and lawsuit. On Friday, local news channel VOCM reported that Deacon Sports and the city of St. John’s may have buried the hatchet.

CBC News contacted Deacon Sports and the City of St. John’s. A spokesperson for Deacon Sports told CBC the company would not comment. The city has not responded.

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