The Arenas of Essex County: LaSalle's Centennial Arena

2160 Old Front Road, LaSalle, Ontario (Map)

Winter 2015-16


While I was home for Christmas near the end of 2015, Donnie told me that the death fences were up and it looked like the building eaters would soon take down the old Centennial Arena in LaSalle.

Having a couple of good friends that live in LaSalle, it's been easy enough over the years check out this arena after leaving either of their houses (or before they get off work). One of those times was back in 2012, where the arena was being used by the public works department and it looked otherwise well sealed.

LaSalle's Centennial Arena was built in 1967 and as you may have guessed, celebrated Canada's centennial. (With my love for all things American, I spent far too long pondering the idea that LaSalle could've been incorporated as a town in 1867.)

The arena was used for hockey up until 2008, although as early as 1999 there were consultants hired to study the feasibility of a twin pad rink in LaSalle. In researching the rink's history, I was amazed at the lack thereof. LaSalle didn't have a Jr. C or Jr. B team - they stole the Tecumseh Chiefs in 2008 when they built a new rink - so I guess that's why people aren't leaving sentimental farewells in any of the news article comments about this demolition.

LaSalle's arena might not have much hockey history, but it would have the most interesting historical tidbit amongst all of Essex County's rinks. That is, The Rock apparently wrestled his last match at Centennial Arena before starting to exclusively wrastle for the WWE. That's right, international superstar, star of Baywatch, Fast/Furious & Journey 2 The Center Of The Earth - Dwayne Johnson - apparently wrestled at the Centennial Arena in 1998 as an amateur before signing exclusively with the WWE.

I can't believe the jabronis in charge of LaSalle didn't realize this and preserve this rink as a shrine to The People's Champion.

Since no one in LaSalle knew their role, we had to take time to drive down before going over to Michigan on one of the first days of 2016. They were pretty much done taking down the arena portion, save for the end scoreboard, lobby & western seating area.

At the time, I couldn't remember if I ever played hockey at LaSalle's arena. I was half expecting the finally cracked arena to jog my memory, but the interior was completely new. It turns out that I never played here & I never attended one of my skilled cousin's travel hockey games here either (as a child I used to live vicariously through him by coming along to games in Sarnia, Leamington, London, etc.).

Even though I never played here, there's still a special place in my heart for any Essex County rink.

The front entry area was tiny and modest. I found it interesting how this arena reminded me of small town Newfoundland rinks with tiny lobbies and I came to learn that Centennial Arena was constructed just like those Newfoundland rinks - i.e. this was an outdoor rink that LaSalle eventually put walls around and a roof above.

Also of note, the two story portion to the west of the lobby was an old school built in 1925. I didn't know this until the demolition articles were posted, but I found it to be a neat piece of LaSalle history.

The remaining portion of the western seating area.

LaSalle would've had the first row of seats about 6 feet off the ground on this side. There isn't a missing portion in the above picture, as the ice would have been right at the base of the grandstands with just a narrow corridor alongside the hockey boards.

Bygone signs for $3.99 Whoppers, Custom Pro Software Computers, and Makin Music Music Lessons lined the back wall. The scoreboard still hung there too, but with a small bite taken out of the clock. I wondered if any of the small business signs meant enough to anyone local that they would have liked them saved.

By now, Donnie & Steve had grown tired of a 85% taken down, small town arena, but as I moved to the back of the neighbouring gas station for a few more pictures, there was one other man who cared enough to come out here and take one last look. He commented on how it was nice to see someone else care & I felt the same way in return.

(He'll probably be the only one who reads this post, haha.)

There weren't any last snags that left Centennial Arena partially demolished and Wikimapia shows the land cleared. LaSalle now holds an empty parcel of land here, but as development in LaSalle has occurred at a fevered pace over on Malden Road1 instead of Front Road, I can't see major development coming to this property. The plan is to plant grass and simply have a grassy, empty patch of land here.

(1 - I ended up on Malden Road the other month & I couldn't believe
how much shit LaSalle has built. I felt like I was in Novi or Auburn Hills.)

The Google StreetView still shows LaSalle Centennial Arena standing back in May 2014.


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1 - LaSalle seeks proposals for Centennial Arena, Julie Kotsis, June 26, 2015 - The Windsor Star
2 - Essex, LaSalle, Belle River all dealing with aging arenas - CBC News
3 - Consultant to study feasibility of twin pad arena - LaSalle Silhouette, Sat Nov 6, 1999

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