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Request before council to rename Springdale Stadium

A request to change the name of Springdale Stadium is currently before council.
A request to change the name of Springdale Stadium is currently before council. - Google Earth

Lions Max Mitchell Stadium suggested

SPRINGDALE, NL - There is an effort underway to rename Springdale Stadium.

The idea doesn't have resounding support, but it is currently before the town's recreation committee for a recommendation to council.

Garry Rolfe admits the mixed reactions to renaming Springdale Stadium in memory of one of its founders as well as a dedicated community man and sports figure has been baffling.

However, it does not diminish his belief that Max Mitchell deserves the recognition.

He is proposing the arena be called the Lion Max Mitchell Stadium - recognizing Mitchell and the Springdale Lions Club for bringing the facility to the town in the 1970s.

He said the new name did not have unanimous support of the Lions membership, but the proposal was brought to council.

There were several Lions instrumental in the lobbying effort to get the stadium built, according to Rolfe - including his father Ford Rolfe, who has a playground in the town named in his honour.

Rolfe said there are other commemorative naming rights bestowed upon individuals through the town, including the Don Huxter Soccer Field. He believes Mitchell deserves the same recognition.

Mitchell came to Springdale in the 1950s as a businessman. He became very involved in the community, joining organizations like the Lions and the Masonic Lodge. He was one of the founders of the stadium - active with a group that would travel to St. John's to meet with the premier of the time for funding.

He played softball and hockey in the community.

He died in 1999 at the age of 67, and was a big fan of hockey - regularly attending games at the Springdale Stadium - all his life, according to Mitchell.

"He was one of those guys that everybody liked," he said. "He was a very active member of the community."

Rolfe said he would prefer to see Mitchell's name attached to the stadium, but would also be open to other suggestions to recognize his contributions.

At its Jan. 15 public meeting, council referred the letter to the recreation committee.

That committee will make a recommendation council, and council will then decide.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Weir said the initial reception appeared to be against renaming the stadium after a single person.

However, the final decision will come after more extensive consideration. He also noted there is a plan for a Wall of Fame at the stadium, where such a recognition can be bestowed.

Some towns and communities throughout the province have their arenas named in memory of a beloved community person or sports icon. In Grand Falls-Windsor the arena was renamed the Joe Bryne Memorial Stadium in 1991. Byrne, a native of Quebec City, moved to Grand Falls-Windsor in 1949 and was was hired by the Grand Falls Athletic Association to coach their hockey team. He died in August 1990 at Grand Falls, and the arena was renamed the following year.

The Town of Marystown re-named their rink the Kaetlyn Osmond Arena a couple of years ago, in recognition of the skater's accomplishments at the national and international level.

In Springdale, the stadium carries the name of the town alone. That seems to be something Weir prefers.

"I would be cautious going there, I would need to explore all names," he said. "I am not too familiar with what has happened with the stadium. I wasn't a big sports person growing up or in my young adult years, so I can't really determine who is worthy of getting a name on the stadium."

"... I am open to any suggestions, but I am a bit reluctant to go there."

Even with the recommendation from the recreation committee, council will have the final decision when it comes before them again.

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