The University of British Columbia today announced the naming of the Thunderbird Sports Centre in honour of hockey builder Doug Mitchell.
Mitchell’s family, friends and colleagues have pledged $10 million to UBC for the winter sports complex in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Canadian amateur sport. The centre, now known as the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, is a host hockey and sledge hockey venue for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Mitchell, a UBC Law alumnus (’62), has spent his legal career with Borden Ladner Gervais, one of Canada’s largest national law firms, where he currently serves as National Co-Chair. Although Mitchell has served in countless leadership roles in both amateur and professional sport, he is most passionate about university sport.
“I am honoured to have my name on this great UBC facility that will serve so many,” says Mitchell. “University athletics are vital in building the leadership that is so essential to our economy and society. Playing sports taught me that none of us can thrive alone – we need a team. It also taught me that it’s not about the falling down, it’s the getting up that counts!”
This financial pledge, among the largest-ever to a Canadian varsity athletics facility, will support UBC’s share of the costs in building the new winter sports complex and help to provide one of the best university winter sports facilities in the country for UBC students, athletes and the greater community.
The complex, opened in September 2008, contains a refurbished Father Bauer Arena, a new practice ice rink and a new 7,500-seat arena that will host the women’s and men’s ice hockey and men’s sledge hockey during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
In addition to the $10-million commitment from the Mitchell family and their friends and colleagues from across North America, the $47.8-million facility has been supported by $36.8 million from Vanoc and $1 million from Rona.
“UBC is very grateful for the long-time support of Lois and Doug Mitchell,” says UBC President Stephen Toope. “We welcome this opportunity to recognize Doug for his significant contributions both to UBC and to amateur and professional sport in Canada.”
About 40,000 people use the centre, home to UBC Thunderbirds Hockey and a variety of intramural, recreational and community programs, every month. More than 230 hours per week are devoted to community use, including hockey leagues, youth instructional programs, high school rentals, community rentals and drop-in programs. The centre is accessible for mobility-challenged participants and spectators.
Mitchell and his wife Lois, who live in Calgary, are active supporters of UBC. In 2006, Lois Mitchell established the Hayley Wickenheiser Thunderbird Ice Hockey Endowment to support the UBC Women’s Ice Hockey team. In 2007, Doug Mitchell established the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Scholarship Endowment to support athletes at UBC. The current gift is comparable to those made to varsity athletic facilities at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.
Doug Mitchell, CM, AOE, QC
Doug Mitchell graduated from the UBC Faculty of Law in 1962. Following a short career as player for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, Mitchell returned to his home of Calgary and began practicing law with the firm of Howard, Mackie, now Borden, Ladner, Gervais.
With his football playing days behind him, Mitchell began to focus on other dimensions of sport. When Olympic hockey faltered in Canada in the 1970s over a controversy around the eligibility of professional players, Mitchell was approached by Father David Bauer and Dr. Bob Hindmarch to re-establish Canada’s Olympic hockey program. In 1978, Mitchell helped them find a training venue in Calgary, signed a personal guarantee and engaged others in helping to create a strong foundation. This work was instrumental in the re-emergence of Canada’s national hockey program.
Mitchell has been actively involved with the Calgary Flames as a former member of the Board of Governors of the NHL and former legal counsel for the Flames. He continues to be passionate about university sport and is the founder of the Borden, Ladner, Gervais Awards that recognize excellence in Canadian university sport.
Mitchell is a former Commissioner of the CFL and is presently the Chair of Legacy Sports, the co-owners of the Calgary Stampeders. In 1996, Mitchell was the recipient of the National Lester Pearson Award as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union. He has been named one of the 50 Greatest Albertans of the past 100 years by Alberta Venture Magazine, and in 2004 was recognized with an appointment to the Order of Canada.
While Doug and Lois Mitchell make their home in Calgary, they continue to support the efforts of UBC on many fronts including hosting events with the UBC Alumni Association and the UBC Faculty of Law, and attending Thunderbird football and ice hockey games.
The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
UBC’s winter athletics facility first opened in 1963 and has been home to UBC Thunderbirds Hockey. In 1963 it became the training home to Canada’s first national hockey program, founded by Father David Bauer.
The new centre, comprised of the 7,500-seat arena, a practice arena and the refurbished Father David Bauer arena, will host some ice hockey and all sledge hockey events during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sport Centre also contains a 6,000-square-foot multi-purpose room, a 5,000-square-foot physiotherapy or fitness centre, 13 public dressing rooms, six referees / coaches rooms, two varsity rooms and one alumni room, and is home of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame.
UBC Athletics and Recreation
UBC Athletics boasts Canada’s most successful varsity program, having captured 79 Canadian University Championships – including 43 in the past 15 years – and three championships in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
More than 71 per cent of all UBC students participate in a UBC Athletics and Recreation program.In 2006-2007, 107 student athletes earned Academic All-Canadian honours (80 per cent or better in a full course load). UBC has the largest recreation program in the country with over 50,000 participants.