After more than a century of playing host to everything from high school graduations to minor hockey league tournaments, the City of Estevan has announced its plans to demolish the Civic Auditorium after being denied insurance.
Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Roy Ludwig said city council had two structural engineering firms picked out to replace the 61-year-old building’s rotting beams, should they be granted adequate insurance coverage. However, the city was declined on six different occasions with companies calling it a “non-traditional building” and saying they wouldn’t insure it past the end of the month.
“I was optimistic that we could get insurance, but I was wrong,” said Ludwig. “It stood the test of time. It was a good building. Unfortunately, I guess we’ll have to move on.”
Ludwig said his fondest memory of the old rink was on Dec. 4, 1966, when Jim Harrison scored a hat trick in 24 seconds for the Estevan Bruins, beating the Regina Pats 6-5. That moment still stands as the fastest three goals by one player in Western Hockey League history.
Playing with the Bruins in the late 1990s, Brant Kersey said one Civic Auditorium memory he’ll never forget is the atmosphere there during the 1999 Anavet Cup.
“I’m sure it was past the fire marshal’s rule of capacity — children were literally hanging from the rafters so they could watch the game, and it was a really, really, really great time,” described Kersey with a laugh.
Now a father of two and a minor hockey league coach in the city, Kersey said the building is even more significant.
“To see my son playing minor hockey out on that ice, it’s a really neat feeling. It’s a shame that it’s closing down,” he said. “Hopefully, we can figure out a game plan to get a third ice sheet back because we were very blessed, here in Estevan, to have three.”
With the closure of the Civic Auditorium, the Energy City now has two rinks left: one in Affinity Place and another in the Estevan Leisure Centre.
According to Mayor Ludwig, plans to rebuild are still up in the air. Once the Request For Proposal to tear down the building is complete and council reconvenes next month, they’ll discuss their steps moving forward.
In the meantime, Kersey said he hopes the city will consider a way to honour the old Civic Auditorium.
“Maybe a mural or something done up along a wall somewhere,” he suggested. “It would be nice to know it wouldn’t be forgotten.”