Sports Hall Needs New Digs, Inductions November 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

London Sports Hall of Fame inductees – and the hall itself – deserve much more than just a wall at Budweiser Gardens to honour our sports history.

Even the simple display of inductees’ plaques on a wall at the Bud – a simple yet important start for the 2002-established hall – is running out of room.

True, it’s the act of recognizing the inductees that counts. But obviously a free-standing structure would best house the physical reminders of our rich sports heritage.

It’s not that the hall of fame committee hasn’t tried, according to chair Tom Dalby. It’s just that no one has come forward with big bucks. Add a tight economy, and it’s easy to understand why even the current display of plaques at the downtown sports and entertainment venue is much appreciated by all.

The Class of 2018 will be officially inducted into the local sports hall on November 8 at the Western Fair District’s Carousel Room. This year’s inductees (and their categories) include:

• Craig Billington, Team Canada, long-time National Hockey League goalie and team executive (Athlete/Modern)
• Al Coulter, Team Canada/Canada’s Olympic volleyball team (Athlete/Modern)
• Adam Purdy, para-Olympic and world championship swimmer (Athlete/Modern)
• Tom Partalas, soccer player and builder, president and CEO of BMO Centre (Builder/Founder Modern)
• Oakridge Oaks boy’s hockey team, OFFSA champions 1971-73 (Team)

Anyone can nominate those who fall under the aforementioned categories, as well as Athlete/Legend, and Builder/Founder Legend. Dalby said those nominated remain eligible for five years before they must again be nominated for induction.

Tom Dalby

The number of inductees in any given year is at the discretion of the hall of fame committee, subject to the approval of the parent group, London Sports Council board of directors. The committee is responsible for the recruitment of nominations, and for the annual selection of inductees, with final approval from the council.

“But our selections have never been rejected,” Dalby explained. “Whomever we put forward, they’ve always been accepted.”

Dalby said traditionally a healthy number of nominees surface, “But they’re starting to peter out a little bit. We get 10 or 12 a year. But the issue we have with a lot of them is they are just very basic nominations without much information. And that means we have to do additional research, so we sometimes miss some of the nominees’ credentials.”

Securing a permanent home for the hall is a growing concern, according to Dalby. He said wall space at the Bud is shrinking along with the economy. A stand-alone structure – or even larger space within an existing building – would more properly recognize local sports history as a hall of fame and museum, rather than just a display of plaques.

“Certainly that would be our preference, but we’re a break-even operation with no money in the bank for anything like that,” Dalby said. “There has been talk from time to time of expanding the original size of Budweiser Gardens out onto Ridout Street, which would clear the way for retail slots. But it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen anytime soon. So we appreciate the location we have now and make the best of it.”

Adam Purdy. Photo: Swim Canada.

Dalby said the hall needs a title sponsor with deep pockets – “someone who wants to throw a bunch of cash at us for long-term sponsorship.”

Until then, the committee continues to recognize its inductees who this year will see about 30 of the three-peat OFSAA hockey championship squads from Oakridge in attendance on November 8.

“Apparently there were no NHL players from those teams, but some went onto U.S. college hockey,” Dalby said. “They had a reunion in the ‘90s, but this will be the first one for them since then.”

If You Go
London Sports Hall of Fame Induction
Carousel Room, Western Fair District
Reception snacks, beverages, meet and greet 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Spirit of Sport Awards recognizing four volunteer coaches and administrators
Inductees video presentations
Tickets $50 or $400/table of eight
Visit https://www.westernfairdistrict.com/events/london-sports-hall-fame

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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