Meridian Center’s Verdone appointed general manager of new Canada Games park

After helping run the Meridian Center from day one, Assistant General Manager Lara Verdone has taken the helm of the new Canada Games Park in Thorold.

Verdone will oversee the operations of a brand new complex that will host five competitions at the upcoming Canada Summer Games, August 6-21 in Niagara.

Like Meridian Centre, the Canada Games Park is managed by venue operators ASM Global.

“I feel lucky and really excited to have my own team, my own building,” Verdone said when he arrived on Friday.

During his tenure, Meridian Center hosted events like the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, NHL Exhibition Hockey and the Tim Hortons Brier as well as performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Elton John and Tragically Hip.

She joined ASM Global in 2008 as part of the opening day team at Leon’s Center (formerly K-Rock Centre) in Kingston, joining senior management at The Meridian Center for its opening in 2014.

At both venues, she worked closely with the Ontario Hockey League to host the Kingston Frontenacs and Niagara IceDogs.

Canada Games Park, located near the main campus of Brock University, will host beach volleyball, lacrosse, wrestling, indoor volleyball and track and field during the Summer Games .

The $102.7 million facility includes the 200,000-square-foot Walker Sports and Athletics Center, which includes two NHL-sized ice rinks, a 200-meter indoor track, sports performance center, parasport gymnasium , a combat sports center and a health and wellness center.

After its inauguration on April 22, the establishment opened its doors to the public this week.

“We have lacrosse in there,” Verdone said. “We are putting our feet under us as we prepare for the Games.

“We have animation in the building, just to solve some problems. We’re working on hiring a team, that sort of thing.

Verdone estimates that approximately 15 to 20 full-time employees will work at the site.

Doug Thornton, executive vice president of ASM Global’s arenas and theaters division, said Verdone is one of the “most experienced venue managers” in the industry.

“Lara is a true professional who brings with her a unique perspective to the Canada Games Park.

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