By Amit Shilton
It’s the biggest problem everybody likes talking about.
Ask anybody affiliated with Ryerson’s sports and recreation department, and they’ll preach the wonders a new sports facility would do the Rams.
They’ll tell you how a new facility will help draw students to Rams games and increase the team’s visibility on campus.
And you know, they’re probably right.
But a facility equipped with a new ice rink might do more than all that. It might save our hockey team.
Ryerson has always had a soft spot for its pucks program. Even when the team was the worst in the country the school stood by its Rams. The university’s most expensive program got an additional boost when one of the top coaches in the country, Graham Wise, was lured from his post to the Rams.
But while watching the team play a tournament at York University, I found myself shocked, not at the team — which did look great — but at the impressive arena complex.
The Canlan Ice Sports facility at York houses five NHL sized arenas, several food and concession stands and packed crowds. Heck, they even have a restaurant with window seats into the main arena. Want to watch the game and have a beer? No problem.
Even at a game that saw the out-of-town Western Mustangs play the downtown Ryerson Rams, a fairly large crowd showed up. Some fans were just there to watch some good hockey in a nice arena.
And that’s the key to bringing fans through the turnstiles. They need to have fun.
Sure, improving the program into a winning team is important, but it won’t make a difference if students don’t have a good time. And a thirty minute commute isn’t fun for anyone.
Of course talk is cheap, but it seems like Ryerson can learn from the York model. Cooperating with the city and acquiring corporate sponsorships are a necessity to see this plan in motion.
After all, does the Coca-Cola Ice Bowl really sound that bad if you get to save some subway change?