Removing Simmons’ name from arena as ‘changing history’, parent says
A relative who donated the land where Charlottetown’s Simmons Sports Center now stands says changing the name of the site is like “changing history.”
Construction on a $25 million replacement for the aging arena is set to begin this spring.
The new facility will be called the DP Murphy Wellness Center in honor of Danny Murphy, the island businessman who bought the naming rights to the town for $250,000 two weeks ago.
The change does not sit well with Jack Simmonds, a relative of the family – despite the different spelling of the surname – for whom the center is named.
“I can’t believe they did it without the public input…you change the culture of the whole area,” Simmonds said.
“You have thousands of kids that go to these facilities here. And they all remember, like us, from their high school and elementary school days, how they played hockey at Simmons.”
Simmonds said the successful campaign to prevent the arena from being decommissioned showed the sports center’s “sentimental value” to the community.
An online petition to “Save Simmons AGAIN” and retain the new facility’s original name has garnered over 600 signatures.
“Very good deal” for the city, according to the mayor
Frank and Ethel Simmons donated the land where the center was built in the early 1970s. It was originally purchased by their grandfather, George Simmonds, who purchased it in 1877.
“[They] didn’t ask for anything in return,” Jack Simmonds said. “The council at the time thought that was the best name. They put the name there. It’s a real meaningful recognition of generosity.”
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the pool and sports field would retain the Simmons name and the money the city got from selling the naming rights could be used to pay off the company’s debt. new facility.
The new complex will include an NHL-sized ice rink, an outdoor swimming pool and a walking track.
“[This is] a great deal for the city of Charlottetown,” he said. “And again, I want to emphasize that these names will remain in place.
But Simmonds said the city was just “playing with words.”
“You put the story on the back burner, and you can’t do that,” he said.
“I hope to see the city… reverse its position and stick with Simmons Sports Centre. That’s how it should have stayed.”
Under the city’s agreement, Murphy will retain naming rights to the facility for the next 15 years, with the option to negotiate another deal before the city sells the rights to another party.
Murphy owns the Tim Hortons franchises in Prince Edward Island as well as other businesses in the province.