Although seen primarily as the current home to the 2015 Memorial Cup-winning Oshawa Generals, the Tribute Communities Centre is a multi-faceted economic driver for the City of Oshawa. With a capacity of 6,000 (give or take an event), the spin-offs for parking, hotels, restaurants and retail in revenue are substantial. And its income does not rely on the repeat business of a single team’s fan base alone.
The Tribute Community Centre’s diverse array of activities, including lacrosse, figure skating, CrossFit, FMX, monster trucks, boxing, weightlifting and curling, plus the myriad of concert genres, family events or the many community-style events such as graduations and commencement ceremonies, ensures Oshawa benefits from many visitors to these many events. Many of them will discover new businesses, perhaps share with friends, drive through neighbourhoods, maybe consider moving there, and of course, stories, so many stories. After all, it was KISS in Oshawa, which had the City’s Mayor on American late-night TV. Legendary concert. And the Pet Shop Boys and New Order used the venue for rehearsals for their recent tour, allowing the Mancunian supergroup to visit a city once known as the Manchester of North America.
Plus, the venue is an important source of employment. Along with the full-time OVG360 team of 25 in
various departments such as Finance and Administration, Operations, Marketing & Sales, Food & Beverage, Ticket Office, Events, Ice Programming and DCAHL, there are the event-related part-timers
“We also have approximately 500 part-time staff consisting of ushers, ticket agents and takers, conversion, operations, housekeeping, food and beverage positions such as cooks, runners, servers,
and security, who are only scheduled on event-related days. The venue also utilizes IATSE, so we have a team of stagehands that come in to handle all of our production and lighting set-ups requirements for events,” says Will Balfour, the Assistant General Manager and Director of Marketing & Sales for OVG360.
Managing this is, of course, key. Turning an ice rink into a basketball court, into piles of dirt for off-road
vehicles to fly off of, verges on the chaotic without the right people.
We’re lucky to have a phenomenal team at the venue, which allows us to make magic happen,” says Balfour. “Communication is crucial in our success as there are so many moving pieces for events.”
“Our team works closely with each other and event organizers to ensure the main arena makes sense for their event, as there are conversion costs to change from our regular hockey setup to practically anything else. Our Operation’s conversion team typically transforms the arena overnight not to displace any late-night ice rentals so that the next morning production and lighting can begin to be hung for the event. As soon as the floor is cleared of fans after the event, our team begins to strike chairs and convert back to our normal arena set up for the next day’s ice rentals,” he says.
Balfour says a lack of outside activity does not mean the venue is not in use.
“Whether it be our in-house Durham Central Adult Hockey League, other regular ice-user groups such as speed skating, minor hockey, and figure skating or private events such as TV and film shoots, catering, general meetings, etc., the building is rarely dark. Our in-house restaurant has also been used for various catering events surrounding milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, and celebrations of life.”
years of tunes, “whoa-whoaaaaa listen to the music.”
Balfour, a homegrown graduate of Ontario Tech University, has been at the Centre for much of the last two decades (it first opened in 2006) and says it is the diversity of events he enjoys.
“Every day is different, and responsibilities vary based on where we are in the process with an event and how involved those promoters want us to be with their event. Some event organizers wish to handle all marketing initiatives leaving us hands-off, while others want us to execute our recommended plans and suggestions as the experts in the market. It’s very dependent on each individual promoter group. Many hats, to say the least, but that’s what I love about it; every day is truly different for me.”
And every day then becomes different for the dynamic and ever-changing City of Oshawa.