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The Fate of Kingston’s International Hockey Hall of Fame

International Hockey Hall of Fame, Kingston Hockey Hall of FameLast July, beloved hockey commentator Don Cherry lent his support to a proposal to re-locate the International Hockey Hall of Fame (IHHOF) from its York Street location to the historic, newly renovated Smith Robinson Building.  Presently, the IHHOF is tucked away in an aging two storey building on the southeast corner of the Memorial Centre grounds.  Mark Potter, President of the local Hockey Hall of Fame, recognizes that the Hall’s location is the main reason this hockey shrine has been unsuccessful, which is especially true since the relocation of the Fronts to the K-Rock Centre.  Therefore, rather than waste an estimated $1.4 million renovating the current IHHOF facility, City Councillors will be presented with three options at Tuesday’s council meeting, effectively shaping the future of the the International Hockey Hall of Fame.  The most contentious option being brought forward, at least from the perspective of taxpayers, is for the City to invest $400K to relocate the IHHOF from York Street to the Smith Robinson Building.  Accordingly, this week’s poll question asks:

Should the City provide $400K to relocate the IHHOF downtown?

  • No. That's offside! (63%, 107 Votes)
  • Yes, absolutely. (37%, 64 Votes)

Total Voters: 171

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While I sympathize with the locationally-challenged IHHOF, and firmly believe that a downtown museum would fare far better than the York Street Hall of Fame, our ongoing financial burden supporting the K-Rock Centre does not leave a great deal of support nor funds left in the community well.  Aside from the option of bulldozing the current IHHOF and contributing $400K worth of taxpayer funds towards the $1.2 million dollar downtown relocation, other options being presented to Council include:

  • Provide no financial assistance and evict the IHHOF from York Street; or
  • Provide no funding for relocation but renovate the current city-owned site for continued use by the IHHOF.

It would certainly be a devastating day for many Kingstonians and fans of the frozen game if the local IHHOF had to close its doors, and sell its cherished possessions to the highest bidder.  Even so, I can’t in good conscience argue that taxpayer funds should support this. Hopefully the K-Rock Centre’s financial shortcomings will be on the mind of enough councillors, and the City can pledge support in other, less costly ways.  I think a great majority of us are in favour of relocating the IHHOF to a tourist-friendly location, however we don’t have the appetite to chip in.  Rather than take funding away for much needed infrastructure, social and cultural projects, this project could be accomplished with private fundraising and corporate sponsorship.

What are your thoughts on the City providing $400K to move the IHHOF down to the Smith Robinson Building? How would you prefer to see this problem resolved?  Please drop off your comments below.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

15 thoughts on “The Fate of Kingston’s International Hockey Hall of Fame

  • April 16, 2012 at 9:04 am
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    Seeing as this is the first hockey hall of fame in Canada, and Kingston is home to the first hockey game, shouldn't our history be enough to get the NHL involved here?

    • April 16, 2012 at 9:31 am
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      It's no secret, the NHL isn't the biggest fan of Kingston's original yet unofficial Hall of Fame. If our Hall were to close, I think they would be first in line to take whaterver exhibits remain and relocate them Toronto's Hall of Fame.

      If we're going to look for assistance, perhaps the local hockey heroes (Gilmour, Muller, Cherry and so on) would be more appropriate. One could argue that they do a lot for Kingston already, but this is right in their wheelhouse.

  • April 16, 2012 at 9:50 am
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    Beloved? That's not the word I'd use to describe Don Cherry.

    The right idea was to incorportate the IHHOF into the Krock Centre. The city has better things to spend money on than this. Let them seek private funding.

  • April 16, 2012 at 10:12 am
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    I''m tired of being a tennis player in this city and having to play with a racquet in one hand and a weed whacker in the other due to the vines growing up through the middle of most public tennis courts in our town.

  • April 16, 2012 at 11:42 am
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    The business plan is with this weeks council agenda. If I thought it was a sure thing the plan would be met I might be alright with the 400k from the city. But the fundraising goal, 20,000 annual attendance, and retail sales projections seem extremely optimistic compared to its present 1500 attendance and what other museums do.

  • April 16, 2012 at 11:54 am
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    I think its fine for the City to give them the money. It would make downtown a more enjoyable place to visit and give more people a reason to come downtown.

    These same people who complain that downtown is not supported enough by the city oppose the city giving funds to the Hockey Hall of Fame? Do they oppose the funding the City gives the other museums too? This funding is roughly they ame cost as one consultant to do a study for the third crossing. While it seems like alot to us little people in the grand budget of the City of Kingston its not alot of money

  • April 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm
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    I'm tired of funding sports related projects. The Grand and The Tett Centre were funded through donations, surely the jocks can find donors too.

    • April 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm
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      What about the City of Kingston Arts fund which provides more than $400,000 to local arts groups in Kingston. This is something I'm not interested in but I don't mind 0.01% of the property taxes I pay to go to the arts so $400,000 is not out of the realm of reasonability to assist one struggling museum to make Kingston a better place.

    • April 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm
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      Only a small percentage of the Grand renovation(that ended about triple the original cost estimate) was funded through donation, and only Queen's Bader center was from donation, not the $12m the city is spending on Tett center . The hockey hall plan (if its met) is a far better deal for the city on a city funds:fundraising ratio.

      Like what has happened with the hockey hall before, and more recently with the Marine museum, the $400k is likely only a start from the city. If it goes over budget, comes up short in fundraising, or doesn't meet its lofty projections when it starts paying high rent in 2 years it will be back asking for more. Once the city is in, it becomes virtually impossible for a future council to say no to more requests and throw away what has already been spent.

      I don't buy the business plan partially based on what 150 people doing an online survey said, or what sales per sq foot of sports items the heavily trafficked S&R had. They are expecting far greater attendance then Bellevue House or the marine museum have.

      The same pattern plays out every time, proponents present a plan that looks pretty good, the city agrees to it…then ends up on the hook for far more later when it costs more or generates less.

      • April 17, 2012 at 8:49 am
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        I think you've hit the nail on the head there. If we were talking about $400K and not a penny more, I think a lot of us would have an easier time supporting this worthwhile project. But the local track record shows that the upfront cost, revenue projections etc… are rarely accurate. Too often the answer is to go back to the public well to throw good money ontop of bad.

  • April 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm
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    THe people working at Bellevue House always seem so lonely.

  • April 17, 2012 at 8:53 am
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    My main concern is that if the Hall of Fame doesn't take that space it will lie empty until they find another tenant maybe 2 years from now. The $400k is peanuts compared to the knock on benefits of the traffic that will make its way to Princess St. Especially during the summer when families will make the trip to the area and end up having lunch or dinner around there.

    If the city wants to have a thriving downtown they have to put up some of the money and 25% of the overall cost seems fair to me.

    The bottom line for me is that the goal shouldn't be to make a whack ton of money on retail and other costs. The goal should be to create strong draws that bring people downtown.

    • April 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm
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      Is it really that much of a draw? Even if you accept their optimistic 20,000 a year projection, that is only what the Cirque du soleil at the Krock draws in 5 days. Of the Hockey Hall attendance, how much of that will be drawn downtown because of the hall, vs how much went to the Hall because they were downtown anyway? The new location will bring in some tourists who wouldn't have gone to the old one, but I don't think having the new HHOF brings any tourists to Kingston who weren't coming anyway.

      It would be different if it was branded the NHL hall, if it was to be spectacular , or if it had an entertainment component or otherwise lent itself to repeat visits. The newness will attract some number of locals, once. I don't think anyone spends $30 to take the family back again.

  • April 18, 2012 at 8:21 am
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    For those who missed council's decision on this last night, taxpayers will be kicking in $200K to help relocate the IHHOF. Other amounts were batted about, but in the end, this is the only one that had enough support to pass. I'm still anxious about what this means if/when the IHHOF comes back to Council and wants another taste to keep them afloat.

  • April 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm
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    The Hockey Hall of Fame being organized within the K-Rock Centre would have been an ideal scenario. The K-Rock Centre could use the extra daytime traffic during the summer tourist season, and the high fixed costs associated with the building mean that it desperately needs to spread the costs out over as many visitors as possible. For huge swaths of time the K-Rock Centre is not producing any revenue and the Hockey Hall of Fame would be a great solution for some additional tourist dollars.

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