It was a close call, but the Anchor City Rollers have a practice space to jam, block and whip it in all winter long. The former Halifax Roller Derby Association lost and gained a venue in the same day last week when it was announced Shannon Park Arena would be closing. The Spryfield Lions Rink and Recreation Centre stepped up to take in the orphaned derby stars.
"We knew we were going to need a new winter practice space regardless," says Anchor City Rollers' Christina Shaffer. "It just happened to coincide the same week we heard about Shannon Park closing we secured another space. So, good and bad."
Shannon Park's impending closure leaves the roller derby league, as well as regular hockey, ringette and figure skater patrons out in the cold. The 54-year-old arena is simply too costly to renovate, CFB Halifax told media.
The base had recently tried to partner with the city on a $45-million arena at Windsor Park, which would have replaced Shannon Park, Devonshire and Civic arenas, as well as the Halifax Forum. After public outcry, council rejected that idea, leading CFB Halifax to terminate its lease.
"We're sad to hear about Shannon Park because it's been such a great venue for us," Shaffer says. "Now, to have to switch gears and find a new place to host public bouts will be a bit of a challenge."
The Rollers still need a new public venue for when their season starts in the spring. Until then, Shaffer is excited about winter practices in the Spryfield Lions centre, which, unlike their previous winter practice space, will be big enough to lay a track and run practice scrimmages.
The Anchor City Rollers' final home game took place this past weekend. A new "fresh meat" program for rookie skaters will start in the fall, and already has 50 people on the wait-list.
"Which is record-breaking numbers for us," says Shaffer. "We've never had that level of interest."
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