Manitoba

Winnipeg's 'Old Barn' resists demolition

A piece of Winnipeg history is now a pile of rubble – but the Winnipeg Arena, affectionately dubbed the "Old Barn," didn't go easily.

A piece of Winnipeg history is now a pile of rubble – but the Winnipeg Arena, affectionately dubbed the "Old Barn," didn't go easily.

The rink that the Winnipeg Jets hockey team once called home was supposed to be flattened in three seconds. It took four hours.

An initial blast with 200 kilograms of dynamite went off early Sunday morning and the concrete came down.

But when the dust cleared, four main support beams that held up the 21-metre structure were still standing.

Two subsequent attempts, using tractors and thick metal cables, also failed.

Finally, after blowtorches were used to weaken the beams, a fourth attempt finished the job.

As they drank gin martinis afterwards in celebration, engineers said they certainly didn't expect the job to take as long as it did.

A few thousand people got out of bed to see the building off early in the morning, but most did not wait as the demolition dragged on.

For 50 years, the arena was the spiritual home of hockey in the city. Fans flocked there to see players such as Bobby Hull, when the Jets played in the World Hockey Association, and Teemu Selanne, when the Jets later became a NHL team.

But the arena's sight lines and acoustics were not as good as concert and hockey fans had come to expect over the years.

The arena was gutted last year. The new, 15,000-seat MTS Centre is now the city's entertainment centre.