Mimico Arena - Mimico Mountaineers
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
31 Drummond St.
Toronto, ON M8V 1Y7
Year Opened: 1931
Home of the Wild Pigeon
Mimico has deep lacrosse roots.
Once a village outside of Toronto, Mimico was swallowed by the City of Etobicoke in 1967. Located on the west side of Toronto, Etobicoke was amalgamated into the City of Toronto in 1998. However, the community of Mimico still has a very strong sense of community and local pride. Nowhere is that more evident than in its attachment to lacrosse.
The Mimico Lacrosse Club was established in 1890. The name “Mimico” translates from Ojibwa to “Home of the Wild Pigeon.” Lacrosse was so significant in Mimico that they built the Drummond Street Bowl in 1931, an outdoor, box lacrosse facility, which would eventually become the Mimico Arena. Mimico competed in lacrosse at various levels over more than a century and continues today.
The lacrosse achievements would culminate in Mann Cup Championships in 1932 and 1942 as Senior Lacrosse National Champions and Minto Cup Championships in 1938 and 1951 as Junior National Champions. The Lakeshore Maple Leafs, which would be folded into the Mimico Mountaineers program, claim a 1970 Minto Cup also.
Mimico even boasts the legendary Conn Smythe as part of their history as a resident and lacrosse player. In 1978, Junior lacrosse would cease to exist in Mimico, only to be resurrected as a Junior B program in 1993. The Mountaineers would move up to the current Ontario Junior Lacrosse League, a Junior A league, in 2013, and is still going strong today.
Food & Beverage 4
Most would expect the most simple snack bar options available at a junior lacrosse game. However, at Mimico, the community vibe even bumps up the concession scene to another level. Although the variety would not compare to a professional experience, the uniqueness of the options takes the concession scene to the next level.
The expected arena options are all there including chips, popcorn, soda, coffee, and tea. Sandwiches are on the menu along with breakfast sandwiches, but what Mimico is known for are their peameal bacon sandwiches. There is also a small lounge in the upper north end of the arena where fans can relax and converse with other fans and enjoy the specialty branded beer for the Mountaineers from Great Lakes Brewery, Lax Lager.
Mimico Arena began its existence as the Drummond Street Bowl in 1931, an outdoor lacrosse facility. Since that time, Mimico Arena has changed drastically with the facility becoming an indoor facility with an ice plant, which allows Mimico Arena the ability to host hockey in the winter months. The exterior of the arena has that local feel to it with double blue siding and a low profile. Unique to Mimico Arena is signage outside that boasts Mimico Arena as the home of the Mountaineers.
Entering the north entrance from Drummond Street brings fans into a small lobby and the immersion into Mimico lacrosse history begins. A large trophy case immediately to the right upon entering features trophies and pictures of Mountaineers teams of the past. A temporary table offers patrons the opportunity to purchase tickets. To the right, behind the ticket table is the set of stairs that takes fans up to the bar. There is even more history at the fingertips of patrons with more trophies and retired jerseys of former Mimico lacrosse greats and team award honourees.
Straight past the ticket table, to the right of the concession stand, is the entrance to the arena floor. Fans are instantly met with the feeling of nostalgia as Mimico Arena remains an “old-school hockey barn” that lacks ice during the summer. The concrete floor runs from south to north with step benches for seating on the east side of the arena.
Also unique to Mimico Arena are Mountaineers markings on the floor itself. The simple scoreboard hangs on the south side and a window from the crow’s nest bar is found at the north end. The stands are split by a simple press box where the game day operations staff make announcements and control the music played during stoppages. The west side of the arena is where the player benches are and above them hang numerous banners reminding visitors just who’s home they are in.
A banner hangs for the two Mimico Mann Cups and another for the two Minto Cups as well as a Lakeshore Maple Leafs Minto Cup championship. The local, community vibe is proliferated with the banners that honour Mimico lacrosse builders Norm Gair, Jerry Chemij, John J.R. Robinson, Ruby Lang, and Bob McCabe are just as prominent, if not more, than the retired numbers of Archie Dixon, Andy Dudun and Ken Dixon. Mimico Arena is not the most comfortable or modern setting as the five rows of step benches are very simplistic and the age of the arena also means it lacks climate control.
The gameday atmosphere is fairly simple. The team is led on the floor by a local youth lacrosse player carrying the Mountaineer flag on a lacrosse stick. Music is not played during the play but during stoppages. Although it seems that the announcers do a decent job, the PA system is quite old and it is difficult to understand all of the announcements.
Mimico Arena is located in the Mimico-Queensway neighbourhood of Toronto, in the former city of Etobicoke, which is on the west side of the city. The arena is situated in a mixed residential commercial area, right beside a grocery store. There are a couple of restaurants in the area close to the arena. These include TC Tibetan MoMo, Il Padre’s Gourmet Pizza, Canadiana Grill By The Lake, Blue Goose Tavern, and Tila’s Mexican Food. It is probably best to bring the car to the destination as opposed to walking.
Although there is not much in the way of sports in the Mimico neighbourhood, one should remember that they are still in Toronto and a short drive will bring fans to some of the best sports around. The Toronto Beaches, also in the OJLL, play in the east end of town.
Downtown is where fans will find most of the other options. BMO Field at Exhibition Place is shared between the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and Toronto FC of the MLS. Also, at Exhibition Place is the Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. East of Exhibition Place is Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays of MLB. Further east along the Lakeshore is Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and Toronto Raptors of the NBA.
The University of Toronto fields a full complement of varsity teams including football at Varsity Stadium, hockey at Varsity Arena, and basketball at the Goldring Centre. A true gem is Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) hockey and basketball, both of whom play in the renovated former Maple Leaf Gardens. Summer may also bring fans to Christie Pits for some Toronto Maple Leafs baseball.
There are not a ton of great options near Mimico Arena for hotels. The Deluxe Inn and Stay Inn are the closest, but getting a spot closer to downtown or the airport is probably a better idea.
OJLL attendance is difficult to assess as attendance figures are not published. The game that was attended for this review was also a playoff game. That being said, the Mountaineers have strong community support and played in front of a capacity crowd for the game that was reviewed.
Friends, family as well as community members were all in attendance and there were plenty of younger people in attendance, who all stood behind the goal. The crowd was loud and into the game and there were even fans leading others in cheers. The fans made the Mimico Mountaineers game that much more exciting. Some fans were even tailgating in the small parking lot behind the arena.
Getting to Mimico Arena is not the easiest venture. The arena is located between Lakeshore Blvd and the Gardiner Expressway, which brings fans from the west to downtown. Toronto traffic can be a real issue so fans coming from out of town should make sure they give themselves plenty of time to arrive. Combining traffic issues with some distinct parking challenges amplifies fans' need to get to the arena early as opposed to late. Most of the parking in the neighbourhood is on the street.
There is a very small lot to the west of the arena and the grocery store to the east has numerous signs dissuading arena patrons from parking there For fans wishing to take public transit, there are TTC buses that run to the east on Royal York Blvd and Mimico Ave and the streetcar can be found further east. Fans should consult the Toronto Transit Commission website for fares, and maps. and schedules. Mimico Arena is an old building and it is not overly spacious. Fans with mobility challenges will find the arena difficult to traverse.
Return on Investment 5
OJLL games are among the most affordable experiences there are. Mimico Mountaineer tickets are sold for $12 for adults. The price of concessions is more than palpable and parking, although a challenge, is free. The product on the floor is the fastest game on two feet and is very exciting. The history of the building and the engagement of the fans put the return on a relatively small investment, over the top.
An extra mark for the deep history that the Mimico Mountaineers enjoy and share.
An extra mark for the connection that is evident between the Mountaineers and the Mimico community. A true neighbourhood team in an era where the neighbourhood is almost lost.
An extra two marks for the Sportsman’s Battery. In World War II, the 30th Battery of the 7th Toronto Regiment was led by hockey legend Conn Smythe. All of the members of the Mimico Senior Lacrosse team were members of the battery. Mimico native Smythe stated that if he were to go to war again, he would bring lacrosse players.
The Mimico Mountaineers of the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League offer a unique experience for fans. Mixing a ton of history with the youth and exuberance of the young players, the Mountaineers experience is one that lacrosse fans should experience. The refreshing feel of a true community team in a big city is one that fans will find in the Home of the Wild Pigeon!