A multi-purpose sport facility that took on the name of one of Brantford’s most prominent community sport builders. The Steve Brown Sports Complex at Lions Park has so much to offer the community and recognizes a truly dedicated individual who made a significant contribution to the advancement of sport in Brantford.
Lions Park Arena was built in 1972 to provide a wide variety of opportunities for the City of Brantford, through both sporting events and community gatherings. The interior features an arena with bleacher seating for 630 with 5 dressing rooms and referees room. Ice is available from September to the end of April and during the summer months the floor is available for larger dances and banquets. It also features an auditorium with seating for 274 and kitchen facilities for community events. The Brantford Lions Club still meets there twice a month.
The exterior of the facility truly makes it multi-purpose. The grounds feature three softball diamonds (one with lights), three soccer fields (two with lights), a running track and three tennis courts with lights. The main soccer field and running track has bleacher seating for 1,000 and has a press box and P. A. system.
In May 2002, the exterior grounds of Lions Park was renamed the Steve Brown Sports Complex in honour of his longtime contributions to the sporting community. Steve Brown helped to organize the Juvenile Football League in the 1950’s and later became the founding president of the Bisons Junior Football Club. This club disbanded and he became the driving force in the creation of the Bisons Alumni which actively funded and supported many community initiatives including minor sports. The Bisons played out of Lions Park which was the start of Steve Brown’s long connection with the facility.
He was active in volunteering for numerous organizations including Minor Sports, St. John's Ambulance, Red Cross, Participation House and the Alzheimer’s Society. His volunteering also included being involved in the many times that games for the disabled were hosted by Brantford. Starting as a volunteer committee chair for the Ontario Disabled Games in 1977, Steve Brown later moved into the position of chair of the Regional Games in 1979 and 1980. He went on to chair the Canadian Games in 1987 – this was Canada’s first national multi-sport Disabled Games. He was on the Board of Directors and liaison between the national organization, CFSOD (Canadian Federation of Sports Organizations for the Disabled) and the Brantford host committee for the Canadian Games in 1991 and remained in that role for additional Games. He remained involved with CFSOD and was involved in its evolution into the Canadian Paralympic Committee in 1993. For a few years in the eighties, Brantford even had a football club named the Browns in his honour.
Steve Brown was also involved in the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Recognition through the Bisons Alumni and in 1991 he wrote a booklet for the Sports Hall with profiles of all the inductees. He was inducted as a builder to the Honour Roll of the Sports Hall of Recognition in 1993.
Many local sport organizations use this facility for practices and tournaments. They include: Brant Skating Club, Brantford Church Hockey League, Brantford Girls Hockey Association, Brantford City Soccer Club, Brantford Galaxy Youth SC, Brantford Minor Softball Association and local schools and high schools use the facility to hold their track and field competitions.
One of the more prominent tenants at Lions Park is Ball Hockey International - Brantford. With two rinks on site (and 16 during their major tournament), BHi is able to run a successful league. They also work with The Lung Association, to host the widely successful Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament which runs in June every year. It had the distinct honour of being in the Guinness Book of World Records for “the largest street hockey tournament consisted of 205 teams totaling 2,096 players in the 2010 Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament in Brantford, Ontario, Canada from 4-6 June, 2010”. To date that event has raised over $82,000 for The Lung Association.
But the Steve Brown Sports Complex at Lions Park isn’t just all about sports. There are many community events that take place on the spacious grounds. These include: Brantford’s Canada Day Celebration, San Rocco Festival, Maria SS Dela Libera Festival and has been host to major concerts.
The Steve Brown Sports Complex at Lions Park has a long and rich history with the City of Brantford. This multi-use facility adds to Brantford’s distinction of being named the Tournament Capital of Ontario, but also recognizes a unique and dedicated community builder through its namesake.
*With notes from Glenn Brown, son of Steve Brown