Ottawa 67’s founder Howard Darwin in line for arena−naming honours

It has taken some time, but the City of Ottawa has announced it is looking at naming a facility after Howard Darwin, the prominent businessman and sports figure who died about three years ago.

The potential venue to be renamed is not the Civic Centre, which Darwin’s family had initially hoped for in light of his accomplishments that include establishing the Ottawa 67’s hockey franchise and bringing Triple A baseball to the city. Instead, the Merivale Arena near Viewmount Drive is proposed.

The Civic Centre is tied into the planned Lansdowne Park redevelopment, and sponsorship consultants have been looking at how much money could be made from naming rights.

With “prior commitments” cited as the reason why the Civic Centre could not be renamed, the Merivale Arena is “the best that they can do, and it’s fine,” said Darwin’s wife, Connie.

“I’m pleased that they have eventually gotten around to naming something,” she said.

   
 

Darwin died in October 2009, at the age of 78, after a long career as a businessman, promoter and sports booster.

He established Howard Darwin Jewellers in 1950 and in 1965 launched Ottawa Cablevision, the city’s first cable television provider. In his time he mingled with prime ministers, even repairing the clocks of William Lyon Mackenzie King, cabinet ministers and city politicians. Darwin also brought in the Ottawa Lynx in 1993 and advocated for the Ottawa Stadium to be built. He also promoted live wrestling and closed−circuit championship boxing matches. His decision to buy an OHL franchise prompted a long−hesitant city council to build the Civic Centre. He eventually hired Brian Kilrea, giving the Hall of Fame junior coach his start.

Darwin was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and was posthumously awarded the Mayor’s Cup for his outstanding contribution to sport in Ottawa.

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