By Alan Hudes
Nearly a year after celebrating the final game on their former home court, the Ryerson Rams are returning to Kerr Hall Gymnasium.
With the Ontario Liberal Leadership convention being held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) from Jan. 25-27, Ryerson Athletics will be forced to move several home games out of Coca-Cola Court.
“The Liberal Leadership convention is going to bring national attention to the venue just with the nature of what (it’s) all about,” said Kelly Austin, director of sales and marketing for the MAC, of the decision to relocate the Rams in favour of the event that will select the next Premier of Ontario.
The former Maple Leaf Gardens was also the site where outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty, who announced his resignation on Oct. 15, was first elected as the leader of the Ontario Liberals in 1996.
“The building has historically been the site of a number of different political events [and] it is a pretty significant [one] to have here,” said Austin.
This year’s convention has affected six Rams home games. The men’s and women’s basketball teams are scheduled to host the Queen’s Gaels on Friday, Jan. 25, while both volleyball squads are slated to play the Guelph Gryphons the following day.
The men’s volleyball team will play the Waterloo Warrriors on Jan. 27.
“I’m kind of frustrated that Ryerson would plan something in the gym that they just built for [us],”said Kelcey Wright, a fourth-year guard on the women’s basketball team. “It’s obviously a distraction in our season, and we definitely lose our home court advantage.”
The games mark the first varsity action in Kerr Hall since a historic win on Feb. 25 of last year, when the men’s basketball team defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the second round of the playoffs, advancing them to the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Final Four.
The men’s hockey team also moved the date of its home game against the University of Toronto to accommodate the convention. The downtown rivals, who were scheduled to face off at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, will now play a day earlier to allow for the conversion of Mattamy Home Ice.
This isn’t the first time the Rams have been displaced by a high-profile event this season. On Oct. 20, the men’s hockey team was forced to move a game to GM Centre in Oshawa, in order to accommodate the Ryerson Hoops Festival and men’s basketball game that featured Wake Forest of the NCAA.