#Gripesinsauga – Are we beating a Dead Horse?

Published September 19, 2012 at 2:20 am


How many times are we going to allow Mississauga’s OHL team to get a free pass? 

Let me start off by saying that I’ve been to my fair share of Ice Dog games.  I’ve been to my fair share of Major’s games.  And soon, I will have been to my fair share of Steelhead games.  Especially by having a child take part in the MHL, I’m now obligated to go even more games than ever before.  If you’re a hockey person, which are most of you who are reading this, then you know that you won’t be disappointed in OHL hockey; after all it is the breeding ground for the NHL.

It’s kinda funny how MLSE owns and operates both the Leafs and their farm affiliate the Marlies, which to me is a complete contradiction.  When the Leafs are down and out, all of the sudden, Burkie is on the FAN pimping out his AHL team, hoping and praying to get more bums in those Ricoh seats in order to  justify the HUGE rent his farm team is paying to play in Canada’s largest city.  But that’s another issue.

My point is that you can’t compare the two.  The OHL is the far more superior brand of hockey compared to the AHL.  AHL players are just praying to get a glimpse of a regular shift on an NHL team, which is part of the reason why nobody shows up to the Marlies games. The average Torontonian, GTA’an (or heck Canadian) understands what exactly the difference is between OHL hockey and AHL hockey. In other words, I’ve seen the likes of Tavares, Staal(s), Spezza and a whole slew of other NHL players play live at the Hershey, but not once will you ever get to see the likes of these players in the AHL.

So, why is it that Mississauga’s OHL team can’t seem to stay afloat despite being a money maker in one of Canada’s hugest hockey markets? When I say “money maker,” I mean much more than just fans going to the game, I’m talking about corporate sponsorship which is almost equivalent to that of the NHL level. I’m talking about

“NHL players Locked out? So what, we have the OHL”

I’ve lived in Mississauga my whole life, and call me old school, but Square One is NOT the entertainment district of Mississauga; rather, it’s just another hub to go somewhere else.  Sure there are 2 theatres, an over-glorified arcade and a bunch of Box Store Restaurants, but what’s the point of all of this if we, the locals, can’t all come together as a community in a daily setting to say ‘we are Mississaugans and we’re damn proud of it too!’

The decision to have the Hershey centre in the middle of fricken nowhere makes no sense at all. The City is expecting too much out of its blue-collared citizens to have to drive to the outskirts of Mississauga and deal with getting in and out of Hershey on a daily basis; home hockey games ARE a daily event (if you‘ve been to 1 game/event there EVER, then you know what I’m talking about).

The Hershey Centre SHOULD have been dropped right BANG in the middle of these 50 some odd condos soon to shadow Square One, all of which are a 5 minute walk to the mall. During its inaugural years, there were vast amounts of land to develop an OHL arena with parking in and around SQ 1. The funny thing is after all these years, there still is.  Heaven forbid Canadians would have a reason to walk across the street 2-3 times a week for a game, dinner and some boozing. Can you imagine all the NON-Hockey people living in all those condos that would become instant not ‘fans’ but SUPPORTERS of their very own Mississauga franchise? How European Football would that be?  What about some peace of mind  knowing that almost everyone in or around the locale won’t have to worry about driving home drunk? Having the arena 5 mins away from your front door, that’s YOUR team!

The formula is fairly simple: population = results = profit. If you want results, then you need to populate the seats. Heaven forbid someone was to get off the bus at the SQ1 terminal and be able to walk to the arena, thereby bringing in out-of-town traffic along with their out-of-town money. Only THEN will Burnhamthorpe and 10 become the entertainment district of this great city. We need to be more than just a hub. 

Getting back to the Dog… I don’t care WHAT you call the next team or WHAT contest you try to riddle us with, the OHL will never work in Mississauga so long as the team is playing out in the industrial outskirts.  HECK, even those living in North Mississauga have to drive to the game. How pathetic! We’re better off having the team play out of the Port Credit Arena, which will be at maximum capacity for every single game or event.

Mark my words, the Steelheads will still only draw 2000 fans max to each home game and maybe 1 or 2 (aside from parents of the players) to their away games.  To add insult to injury, the tax payers will still be griping and the powers that be will still have this mentality of “how can one of the most prolific youth hockey cities in the world NOT support an OHL franchise?  It’s impossible to conceive such a notion, it’s gotta work…” … I don’t think so!

So call it what you want, Ice dogs, Majors or even Steelheads, we’re still just beating a dead horse. Maybe that’s the name that should have won, the Mississauga Dead Horse.

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