A Trip Down Memory Lane to Celebrate 20 Years at CN Centre
Prince George, B.C. – The best known civic facility in Prince George was celebrated this morning.
It was 20 years ago today the Prince George Multiplex officially opened its doors (known as CN Centre since 2005) and a list of dignitaries including Mayor Lyn Hall and others showed up to share their memories.
“There’s a lot of people that played a key role in this, there’s too many to name I’m sure,” said Don Grantham, chairman of the original Prince George Multiplex Building Committee.
“John Backhouse was the mayor at the time and Don Bassermann and Dan Rogers were on my committee and of course Tom Madden played an integral role.”
He said the public supported the building from the beginning noting its overwhelming support in a public referendum.
Grantham also shared a few memories, including the debate over seating.
“When we went to Red Deer for instance, they had provided the facility the ability to increase seating to 10,000 people and we chose 6,000 feeling it was optimum for the size of our community and I really think that was the right decision,” he said.
“We were criticized when the Cougars were really successful in the late 1990s when you had to stand in line for hours for tickets at playoff time but if you put 2,000 in a 6,000 seat facility it looks empty enough, can you imagine if it had been 10,000?”
CN Centre manager Glen Mikkelsen, who has worked at the facility for 14 years, said he’s often asked about his favourite shows.
“Certainly when we had Elton John here that was a very special week because the band came in and we looked after them for the whole week, his touring staff,” he said.
“They were here in the building, plus we were trying to set up things for them to do around the city and then when Elton came in it was just a perfect summer night. It was a very memorable experience people still talk about today.”
Originally built primarily for the Prince George Cougars, vice-president of business for the Cats Andy Beesley estimated over two and a quarter million people have walked through the turnstiles for games over the past two decades.
He added it’s amenities like CN Centre that kept his family, and likely others, here.
“Prince George is a city I came to a few decades ago with the idea of putting in a year or two and moving back east with my family and it’s done so much for me,” said Beesley.
“And I have to say the CN Centre and hockey has connected me in such a way that it’s made a significant difference to my family, my son and my employment and my desire to continue to be a part of this community.”
Mayor Lyn Hall said his greatest memories of CN Centre centre around sports like the Cougars playoff run led by Blair Betts back in the 90s.
He said the building’s been such a success he couldn’t imagine the City without it.
“No I can’t imagine it. I’ve said many times that cities that have NHL teams are on the map, cities of our size, having a WHL franchise in this building, puts us on the map.”