London Ice House
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
|Former names||Treasure Island Gardens, London Gardens|
|Location||4380 Wellington Road South, London, ON, N6E 3A2|
|Owner||London Knights Hockey Club|
|Surface||190' X 85'|
|London Knights 1965-2002
London Nationals Jr. B 1976-2001
London Wildcats (CoHL) 1994-95
The London Ice House is an arena in London, Ontario, Canada. It was originally built in 1963 and was home to the London Knights ice hockey team from 1965-2002. The arena had a capacity of 5,075 and was originally named Treasure Island Gardens from its opening until its rebranding in 1994. The building was a part of the Superstore Mall complex and originally included a second ice pad, which was removed in the 1970s.
In 1994, the London Knights and the building were purchased by new owner Doug Tarry, who changed the name of the building to the Ice House. Tarry upgraded the building in 1994, including replacing the seats on the sides and adding more emergency exits to bring the building up to the fire code, but once the refurbishing was complete the team and building went downhill steadily, as Tarry preferred to allow the building to deteriorate as part of his lobbying the city for a new arena, given that they were the only team in the OHL who owned their own building without municipal assistance and taxes in excess of $125,000 per year in 1999. The team was sold as the city warmed up to building a new facility. The London Knights underwent a renaissance after being purchased by Dale and Mark Hunter in a deal brokered by George Georgopoulos who was negotiating with the City for a multi-purpose entertainment centre and arena in Downtown London. The team would leave the Gardens/Ice House in 2002 and relocate to the newly built John Labatt Centre on the former Talbot Block, which was built as part of the city's effort to revitalize the area. The last meaningful goal in the old arena was scored by Erie Otter Carlo Colaiacovo in the 2002 playoffs.
The Rolling Stones played the arena on April 26, 1965, but due to rioting in the audience, the show was shut down by police after only 15 minutes. Mick Jagger promised the disappointed crowd the group would return to London for a make-up show, but over 40 years later, it has never happened.
After the Ice House's closure it was purchased by investors who turned it into a motocross facility called the London Motoplex; however, they went bankrupt within eight months. Most of the old seats and all of the hockey memorabilia was sold at auction. The 1994-era seats were purchased by the Windsor Spitfires organization, who installed them at the Windsor Arena. After the Motoplex went under, a liquidator sold the building to another group of investors who constructed a bicycle track on the arena floor. Today the Ice House building is home to the Forest City Velodrome.