Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex
400 East Avenue, Kitchener
Expansion Video: June 2010
Kitchener's first auditorium was located at Charles and Queen Streets and was supplied with ice and refrigeration from the nearby Silverwood Dairies. However, when the Dairy moved in 1938, the auditorium was converted to a dance hall until January 1948 when it was destroyed by fire. From 1938 to 1951, Kitchener did not have its own ice surface forcing groups to use ice in Galt and Waterloo.
The idea to rebuild a municipal auditorium began in 1938 when a group of local sports enthusiasts proposed a facility which would seat 5,500 people and cost $175,000 to build. It would be Kitchener's own Maple Leaf Gardens. The public did not share the group's enthusiasm and when the proposal went to a public vote, it was defeated.
After World War II, community spirit changed considerably and it was decided that an auditorium would be built in honour of those who served in the war.
In 1950, council chose the East Avenue site for the facility and bought the land for between 600 and 1,000 dollars per acre. In May 1950, the cornerstone was laid and construction began. The building, with its state-of-the-art convertible flooring which allowed the conversion from a hockey arena to a concert hall in 24 hours, was officially opened on May 24, 1951. The Auditorium was the fourth largest facility of its kind in Ontario.
In 1967, a Centennial project saw the creation of Centennial Stadium and Jack Couch Park on the Auditorium grounds.
In 1986, construction began on the a 9.2 million dollar addition to the Auditorium which featured twin Olympic ice pads, a teaching theatre, a fitness centre, viewing lounges, change rooms, banquet facilities and meeting rooms. The new addition opened on January 9, 1988.The facility was renamed the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex to reflect the larger building and the original intent of constructing a war memorial.
In 1994, the original Auditorium Arena was renamed the Dom Cardillo Arena in honour of Kitchener's longest serving mayor.
In 1998, another addition was built to provide a permanent home for the Kitchener Rangers Hockey Club.