By Aaron Bennink
One of the most visible landmarks in Mississauga, Ont., is the bright red main identification sign for the Hershey Centre, a sports and entertainment facility located next to Highway 403 and near Highway 401. Owned by the city and managed by SMG Canada, the 5,500-seat multipurpose arena is home to a variety of events, including Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors junior hockey games, festivals and concerts with 7,000-seat capacity.
The sign, along with others inside the venue, was conceptualized at Muller Design Group’s Toronto office and built and installed by WSI Sign Systems, based in Bolton, Ont., in time for the Hersey Centre’s opening in October 1998. Since then, the city around it has grown significantly and the expanded facility’s gymnasium, indoor soccer field, portable basketball court, gymnastics centre, two illuminated outdoor soccer pitches, three additional National Hockey League (NHL) size community ice rinks and 2,000 parking spaces have been used by some 3.5 million guests. Large audiences have turned out for Skate Canada events, the Carassauga multicultural festival and concerts by the likes of the Tragically Hip, B.B. King, the White Stripes, Green Day and Hedley.
The iconic aluminum channel letters were originally illuminated with neon. Eventually, they required extensive maintenance, refinishing and repair. By 2010, the building’s two main signs were suffering cracked lenses, weather-worn retainers and faded illumination.
When the time approached to restore them to their original lustre, the city’s managers decided—in keeping with other ‘green’ initiatives to reduce Mississauga’s carbon footprint—to use the opportunity to retrofit the letters by swapping out the neon tubing with more energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). They issued a request for pre-qualification (RFPQ) for the job to signage contractors, with bids due by mid-November 2010 and the work anticipated to begin in June 2011.
After considering the bids, the city chose to work with On Land Navigation and Design, a Toronto-based wayfinding consultancy, and Zip Signs, an exterior sign manufacturer based in Burlington, Ont. On Land’s previous clients had included such public-facing facilities as Toronto Pearson International Airport, Sunnybrook Hospital, the Toronto Zoo and Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
The challenge of this project was in how best to optimize LED performance in a sign that was built to be neon-illuminated.