Arena Name: Wheat City Arena Capacity: 5100 Built: 1913 Address: SE Corner of 11th & Victoria, Brandon, MB Ice Surface Size: Last Game: 1970 Demolished: 1970
Wheat City Arena
What's the Arena Like?
Brandon’s Wheat City Arena opened in 1913 as the Brandon Winter Fair Building, a livestock exhibition facility. It served in that guise until the Second World War, when the British Commonwealth Air Training Program requisitioned it. The BCATP was where all Commonwealth nations had their pilots, gunners and navigators taught to fly and then trained for combat in the relative safety of the Canadian interior, far from the guns of the Luftwaffe. (As an aside: my paternal grandfather spent the war as an BCATP mechanic at RCAF Station Crumlin, what would become the London International Airport.) The building was renamed at that time to the No. 2 Manning Depot and was used as a sergeant’s mess and sleeping quarters.
Manning Depot was declared surplus at the end of the war and converted to its third use, this time to an indoor hockey arena. Renamed Wheat City Arena, it opened in December 1947 with a capacity of 5,100 and an artificial ice plant, the first in the city of Brandon. The Wheat Kings began play there in 1947 and started their WHL career there in 1967.
In a story that would never, ever happen today, the city of Brandon sold Wheat City Arena to an anonymous developer midseason during the 1969-70 season, who shut the arena down and demolished it in January 1970. The last Wheat Kings game there was Nov. 18, 1969. The city had been planning to build Keystone Centre anyway, and while the Wheat Kings looked at temporary homes in Shilo and Virden, they decided to play at ManEx Arena while their new rink was under construction because... the city offered to subsidize their losses. It was a ridiculous situation all around, and it's a good thing all told that the team survived being evicted from their home mid-season because some clown wanted the land to build a grocery store.
The Site of Wheat City Arena
What's It Used for Today?
The site of Wheat City Arena had a Safeway grocery store built there in 1970. The grocery store has in itself now been demolished, and the land is now the parking lot of the Brandon Police’s headquarters.
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