By Lauren Parsons
One of Canada’s most premier gymnasiums is getting a makeover for the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
The entire three-court Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium, in the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre, will be redone from the concrete base, to the wooden subfloor and up to the hardwood surface, allowing athletes to keep their mind on the game rather than navigating dead spots in the court.
“The athletes are going to see dependable and consistent performance out of the entire floor,” said Ian McArton, Facilities and Events Coordinator for Wesmen Athletics. “It’ll help them focus on the game and avoid risk of injury to the knees, ankles and joints.”
The 30-year-old gymnasium will also be getting an upgraded scoreboard, new lighting and behind-the-scenes upgrades like wi-fi dedicated to the facility to augment the fan experience. A recent renovation also saw upgrades to the gym’s retractable bleachers, which offer seating on both sides of centre court for up to 1825 fans.
For an event like the Canada Summer Games, when the stands are full and an overflow of excited fans are cheering from the second-floor track that encircles the gym, it can be a powerful experience.
“That’s why I love to play at Duckworth,” said Will Sesay, a second-year Wesmen point guard who grew up playing recreational basketball at his now home gym. Prior to playing for the Wesmen he averaged 18 points a game for the Oak Park Raiders, leading the team to the final at the Wesmen Classic, where he received tournament MVP. “The atmosphere is crazy and it feels like there’s so many people there for you. “
He said that visiting athletes will be surprised by how much space there is, not just in the gym but throughout the entire facility.
“They’re going to be excited to be here and use the space to practice, and use the new rec plex (Axworthy Health & RecPlex) to practice,” he said. “As a player, in high school, it’s cool to be at that level.”
When you take off the new bells and whistles, the Duckworth Centre is an easy-to-navigate, comfortable facility with a home-team feel.
“Sometimes you walk into a sporting venue and it feels cold, just four walls and a roof, where this definitely has a homey feel,” said Adam Wedlake, executive director of Basketball Manitoba. “There’s a good traffic flow from the entrance to the stands. When you find a place to sit it’s quite an intimate setting. It’s the normalcy of most basketball venues, and you need that. In basketball there is a close connection to the game.”
The Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame, featuring photos, jerseys, trophies and other memorabilia dating back to the 1920s is also housed in the facility.
“Artifacts, newspaper clippings, old trophies - sometimes these things end up in people’s basements, but it’s stuff that’s important to us and we display them in the setting that they should be,” said Wedlake.
The Hall of Fame is open to the public during events and regular facility hours.
The Duckworth’s bright, open space is full of life. Students and community members can be seen using the Bill Wedlake fitness centre, grabbing a coffee from Cafe Bodhi and using the space to relax or study. The facility is also home to faculty offices and classrooms. Centrally located, the Duckworth Centre is easy to get to by bus with Winnipeg Transit, by foot from most of Winnipeg’s downtown hotels, or by car with underground parking located at the Axworthy Health & RecPlex.
For information about the Duckworth Centre’s Accessibility Services, click here.
Address: 400 Spence St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9 at the University of Winnipeg
Phone: (204) 786-9349