London Ice House
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|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 was an arena in London, Ontario, Canada. It was originally built in 1963 and was home to the London Knights ice hockey team from 1965 to 2002. The arena had a capacity of approximately 5,000 and was designed as a one level Boston Garden. The arena was originally named Treasure Island Gardens as the building was a part of the Treasure Island Plaza mall complex located in south London. The arena also included a second ice pad but was eventually closed.
In 1994, the London Knights and the building were purchased by new owner Doug Tarry, who renamed building as the London 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 after the 2001-02 season and relocate to the newly built John Labatt Centre later renamed to Budweiser Gardens on the former Talbot Block in Downtown London the following season. The last goal ever scored at the London Ice House was scored in overtime by Carlo Colaiacovo of the Erie Otters in the 2002 OHL 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. Since the concert, only Bill Wyman (from the 1965 Stones - who is no longer with the band) returned to London and performed at the Harris Park with his band in 2001. Also, one other highlight from the concert was that former NHL player and head coach Pat Quinn promoted the event and brought the Rolling Stones to London.
After the Ice House's closure it was purchased by investors who turned it into a motocross facility called the London Motoplex; however, the investment group were not making payments during their ownership. The ownership of the building returned to the Hunter brothers afterward. 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.
Since 2004, a group of investors (made up of business, community, and government investment) converted the former hockey arena and motocross track into an indoor cycling track and became the Forest City Velodrome. The Forest City Velodrome Association (a non-profit organization) operates the races, clinics, and other activities at the track.