The Meridian Centre, St. Catharines

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             New $50 million OHL Niagara Ice Dogs arena to transform city’s downtown core

The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara Ice Dogs currently play in Canada’s oldest hockey arena. The team will start next season in the new $50 million Meridian Centre.

The project, constructed by Ball-Rankin Construction Inc., designed by PBK Architects Inc, with CBRE Ltd. as project manager, will play a role in transforming St. Catharine’s downtown core.

The arena will seat 5,300 for hockey games and 6,000 for concerts.

Rankin senior vice president Sto Tritchew says this project has many challenges: the very tight work area, the most severe winter conditions in the last two decades and a tight construction schedule.

“The new Meridian Centre is situated on top of the old Welland Canal which was filled in with all kinds of fill and refuse over the years,” says Tritchew. “We had to drive 356 steel H-piles each over 100 feet in length to support the building.”

He says the area essentially became a landfill site over time so the presence of methane gas also created some unique challenges. The site had to be raised by up to 2 meters with clean fill to avoid any excavation of contaminated materials. Installation of a methane venting system and barrier below the entire building helped to mitigate the problem.

The centre is being built in an existing lower level parking lot behind St Paul St., the city’s main thoroughfare. Once completed, two pedestrian bridges donated by Rankin Construction Inc. will connect St. Paul to the Meridian Centre’s upper level.

“St. Paul is a hub for restaurants, bars and other services,” says Ice Dogs’ owner Bill Burke. “Connecting the Meridian Centre directly will make this the entertainment district of Niagara.”

Burke says the old arena had a great atmosphere and a lot of history but it is time to move forward. “The new arena will offer 25 suites, 400 club seats and space for the hockey club.”

The building will include a 12,000 sq. ft. space with business and hockey offices, a players’ lounge, sauna, change rooms, an oxygen chamber, coaches’ area, training and fitness rooms.

Public spaces will also feature a Wall of Fame and a Hall of Fame dedicated to the Ice Dogs and the history of hockey in St. Catharines.

Construction started in January 2013 and is expected to be completed in August 2014, although the team will move in earlier to set up its own areas.

Burke says the project’s success has been the direct result of Tom Rankin, CEO of Rankin Construction and City of St. Catharines staff. “The project will come in on time and within budget thanks to Tom. City of St. Catharines’ staff Rick Lane (director of recreation and community services) and David Oakes (director of economic development and customer service) have been very supportive and focused on getting this done.”

Tritchew says as a joint venture with Ball Construction, the Ball-Rankin Team has a great deal of experience and expertise in all facets of the work being completed. “It’s great that Mr. Burke has such high praise for Rankin Construction Inc. and we thank him for that. II do believe we have a very good reputation in the construction industry , however part of being successful is aligning yourself with the best team and that’s exactly what we did in partnering with Ball Construction.”

He says Ball, a family run business for over 80 years with a reputation for honesty, integrity and quality workmanship, has been a pleasure to work with. He also credits the project’s success to a great team of architects, engineers and subcontractors.

“Ball Rankin would also like to thank the City Team, CBRE and their team and PBK Architects and their team for all working together to help keep this project on track,” Tritchew says. “A thank you goes out as well to all of our subcontractors and all the workers on site. Any company is only as good as its people, without them out there working in less than ideal conditions at times we would not be as far along with this project as we are.”

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