Peterborough Memorial Centre - Home of the Peterborough Century 21 Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse

This article is the sixth and final part of a six-part series (The Arena Series) on the arenas of Major Series Lacrosse.

 Part 6 –The Peterborough Memorial Centre (PMC) 

Peterborough Memorial Centre

Built in 1956, the Peterborough Memorial Centre (PMC) is the home arena for the Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse.  The arena is named in honour of the many war veterans who came from the greater Peterborough area.  The arena is a single pad facility – a venue used by the MSL Lakers, the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League Junior “A” Lakers and occasionally by the Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “C”  and Peterborough Minor Lacrosse Association Lakers.  With renovations over the years, the PMC has a reported seating capacity of 3,963.   In addition to lacrosse and hockey, the venue is the host to an array of events including trade shows. The PMC is on Lansdowne Street, a major street across the city.

The sloping end wall located above the main entrance is a unique architectural feature of the facility sending a signal – “you have arrived at the PMC”.  Parking lots for 600 vehicles are found to the west of the arena. 

In 2003, the facility underwent a major renovation.  The renovation included adding 24 luxury box suites with a capacity of 395 fans, completely new seating, new boards, scoreboard, air conditioning, a licensed restaurant and improved concessions.  Further renovations were completed in late 2005 with the addition of a full video scoreboard.  The stage at the south end of the arena was replaced with a restaurant

Furthermore, in 2008, the Lakers installed a carpet on the floor for use at the PMC.  This required negotiating a 10-year $120,000 interest free loan with Peterborough City Council.  Part of the cost has been recouped with advertising on the carpet.

Carpet on the playing surface introduced in 2008

Upon entering the arena in the main lobby, fans are met by friendly greeters.  To the immediate left is the Peterborough and District Sports Hall of Fame, regarded by many sports enthusiasts as one of the finest local sports halls of fame in existence.  Well worth the visit as it celebrates all sports.

Peterborough and District Sports Hall of Fame in PMC

Food concessions are found immediately ahead of the main entrance.   A concourse runs underneath the seating where there are additional concessions.  The walls are covered with memorabilia and photos of Peterborough sports teams and legends. 

The seating section of the arena is comprised of 11 rows of maroon coloured plastic seats on the east side.  The west side (“the Club section”) has 9 rows of padded seats.  The south end includes 15 rows of upper-level seating.  The view from the end seats is interesting as it is high above the playing floor while providing a great view of the action, along with a perspective of observing  the rest of the fans who are seated on the arena sides.

The north end includes VIP seating and a restaurant where fans can watch the game. There are luxury boxes located above the main seating on both the east and wide sides.

The Lakers have the good fortune of being “THE game in town”.  The team receives television coverage on locally broadcasted Cogeco. Local television, radio and print media are very supportive, providing updates and highlights on a regular basis. In recent years, when the Lakers have played in the Mann Cup, the games have broadcasted on line on a pay per view basis. 

Numerous lacrosse championship banners hang high

When you attend a Lakers game, do not be surprised to see countless lacrosse legends in attendance.  Such icons as Bobby Allan, Lee Vitarelli, Johnny Davis, Ben Floyd, John Grant Senior, Jim Wasson, Mark Vitarelli, Paul Evans and countless others continue to follow and support the Lakers.

Major Series Commissioner Doug Luey, was reflective and complimentary in his thoughts regarding the Peterborough Memorial Centre.  He stated, "I have been very fortunate to have participated as a player, coach and administrator at the Peterborough Memorial Centre for many years. Over the years there have been many changes to the old "stage" and the unique player’s bench area. Always enjoyable, but probably more so because of the great history in the building and the most loyal fans in our game".

MSL Commissioner Doug Luey

"PMC has great history and loyal fans."

Peterborough Lakers’ long time President Ted Higgins is very aware of the community support the team receives – “We are so fortunate and blessed to have the very best fans in the entire league.  They help elevate the team’s performance on the floor and for that, we are truly grateful.”

Lakers President Ted Higgins

“Grateful for having the very best fans in the league”

Obviously, every fan loves following a winning team.  Fan attendance at Lakers’ games is the best across the entire MSL.  Peterborough fans are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  In general, the demographic of the fan base is not comprised of youngsters – as the bulk of fans are over age 50.  And, they know when to make noise.  Fans cheer loudly, heckle referees on occasion and it is common to hear a rhythmical chant of "Let's go Lakers".

Like Ted Higgins, Lakers General Manager Paul Day was born and raised in Peterborough.  He has memories of the Memorial Centre going back to his days as a young lad.  With a smiling face, Paul Day fondly shared, For me, my elementary school St John which was the next street over.  After school I would go to the PMC and watch the Lakers Junior and Senior teams’ practice. I ended up getting a job there in grade nine and worked there in several roles until I became a Police Officer. When there, I loved seeing the teams win and wanted to help bring some Championships to the fans. The Peterborough Memorial Centre was my Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens”. 

Lakers General Manager Paul Day

“The PMC was my Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens”

Peterborough – 17 Mann Cup Championships

Peterborough has had a Senior level lacrosse club since 1950.  Of note: for the period 1961-1963 and 1974-1977, there was no Senior lacrosse team in Peterborough.  Over the years, the team moniker has changed several times.  Initially known as the “Timbermen”; changing to the “Trailermen” in 1953; changing to the “Mercurys” in 1959; changing to the Speedy Erns in 1964; changing to the Pepsi Petes in 1966; changing to the Don Byes in 1967; changing to the Lakers in 1968; changing to the Red Oaks in 1978; changing back to the Lakers in 1982; changing to the Quakers in 1988; and finally changing back to the Lakers in 1994 on a permanent basis, although becoming the Century 21 Lakers in 2017.

Peterborough teams have won the Ontario Championship 26 times (1951 to 1957, 1959, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1982 to 1984, 2004 to 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2017 to 2019).

More importantly, the team has won the Mann Cup 17 times (1951 to 1954, 1966, 1973, 1978, 1982, 1984, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017 to 2019).  Six Mann Cup championships, they were not called the “Lakers”.  As the Lakers, Peterborough won the Mann Cup in: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2012, 2010, 2007, 2004, 1984, 1982, 1973, and 1966.

It has not always been glory years for Peterborough.  The organization struggled during the 1990s.  Nonetheless, team President Ted Higgins persevered and with hard work changed the organization’s fate for the positive.  Now, the Lakers are the most attended team in Major Series Lacrosse.  The Lakers  have a game night volunteer base of over two dozen dedicated people.  City of Peterborough transit buses display signage supporting the Lakers.  More than 125 local businesses step up to sponsor the team.

Thursday night is Lakers’ home game night.  The Peterborough Memorial Centre is located at 151 Lansdowne Street West.  Treat yourself and get to a Lakers game.  You will enjoy the evening – along with a character of its own, the PMC has a  comfort about it – like visiting a good friend.  Be sure to arrive early and tour the Sports Hall of Fame.  Then enjoy watching “The Lake Show”, the best game in town featuring Major Series Lacrosse - the very best lacrosse players in the World!

 (Written by Rad Joseph – Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media Team)