The WFCU Centre is an entertainment complex which contains a spectator arena with 6,500 seats, a community centre, community ice pads, gymnasiums, a reception centre, and meeting rooms. Two athletic clubs play their home games at the WFCU Centre: the Windsor Spitfires (Ontario Hockey League) and the Windsor Express (National Basketball League of Canada).
Under the leadership of Mayor Eddie Francis, Windsor City Council approved the construction of a new arena and sports complex in 2006. Construction began in January of 2007 and the WFCU Centre opened its doors on December 11, 2008. Local businesses were employed for the construction of the WFCU Centre, including PCR Contractors (General Contractor), HGS Consulting Engineers (structural engineer), and Vollmer & Associates (service engineers). The building design was provided by BBB Architects of Toronto. Naming rights to this facility were acquired by the Windsor Family Credit Union in September of 2007 for a purchase price of $1.6 million.
To date, the WFCU Centre has held a number of world-class sporting events, including the 2010 World Cup of Curling, the 2014 NBLC Championships (a home court victory for the Windsor Express), the 2016 FINA World Championships, and the 2017 Memorial Cup (a home ice victory for the Windsor Spitfires). Aside from athletics, the WFCU Centre is one of Windsor’s largest concert venues. It has hosted numerous musical acts, including world-renowned entertainers like Elton John and Carrie Underwood. Stand-up comics Russell Peters and Tim Allen, as well as the acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, have also performed for sold-out crowds at the WFCU Centre.
Although Windsorites generally welcomed the idea of a new sports/entertainment complex (Windsor Arena, the former home of the Spitfires, was built in 1924 and had become outdated), the decision to build the WFCU Centre in the east side of the city was controversial. Some local residents felt that the arena should be built in the city’s core because it would stimulate the local economy and promote business and development downtown. Adding to the controversy was the high price tag for the new complex. The final cost of the WFCU Centre was approximately $71.6 million, which was over the initial budget of $69.9 million set in 2007. Ten years after opening, debate over the WFCU Centre’s location resumed as ticket sales slumped for both the Spitfires and the Express. Some argued that the arena’s location on the outskirts town was to blame, also noting that the building of the WFCU Centre had failed to attract new businesses like hotels and restaurants to the area, which remained largely undeveloped.
Battagello, Dave. “Lender pays $1.6M to name new arena.” Windsor Star, 11 September 2007, section A1 (no link available).
Parker, Jim. “Rink of Distinction.” Windsor Star, 11 December 2008, section A7 (no link available).
Photograph: from wfcu-centre.com