Thursday, 8 May 2008

One for George

A recent Toronto Star story said the cost of building an indoor rink these days is about $2 million.

That sounds like a fair price to pay to build a George Gross Arena.

George, who left us on Good Friday at 85, deserves nothing less than his name on an arena dedicated to developing the skills of new generations of figure skaters and hockey players.

Figure skating was dear to his heart, so much so that George is being added to the Skate Canada Hall of Fame this year.

The Baron's final Toronto Sun column, written on the eve of his fatal heart attack, was about Canadian Olympic skating star Kurt Browning.

George also wrote about all levels of hockey, from the minors to the NHL, with equal enthusiasm. He was a widely respected friend of the game.

So a George Gross Arena is a natural.

While $2 million is almost 10 times the $250,000 it cost to build Ted Reeve Arena at Main and Gerrard in the Beach district in the 1950s, it can be raised with city, corporate and community support. The city desperately needs new rinks, so work around the hurdles.

The Ted Reeve Arena story is inspirational, with east-end community individuals and groups raising $125,000 over seven years after the city guaranteed the first $125,000.

Ted Reeve Arena, named after the former lacrosse star, CFL football player and legendary Toronto Telegram/Toronto Sun sports writer, has been home to skaters since 1954.

The city, the Telegram and the community got the job done then and with the outpouring of love and affection for George Gross in 2008, there is no doubt the city, the Toronto Sun and the community can make George Gross Arena a reality.

Perhaps it should be built in Etobicoke, home to George and Elizabeth and their two children for decades.

George, the Toronto Sun's founding sports editor, not only shared Ted Reeve's love of sports and sports writing, but also love of community. He helped raise millions for Variety Village and other charities close to his heart over the decades.

The least we can do is raise $2 million to honour George for his untiring dedication to sports and the community.

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