After lengthy debates at City Hall over where to build the venue, Budweiser Gardens celebrates its 20th anniversary in downtown London, Ontario on Tuesday.
“It went by so quickly with so many memories,” says Brian Ohl, Budweiser Gardens’ first and only general manager.
When it first opened on October 11, 2002, it was called the John Labatt Center and the first major act to perform was Cher. Years later, the London Knights won the 2005 Memorial Cup in front of a standing-only crowd.
“We had a lot of great artists, and of course it was great for the city to win the Juno Awards,” says Ohl.
Traders in the area have benefited from the venue because when it’s open for business, so are they.
“For many in the area, it was life support,” says Craig Paulger, co-owner of J. Dee’s Market Grill. “It really saved this part of downtown.”
Going forward, Ohl says they will be making some adjustments to the backstage area to accommodate larger acts.
Ohl says he’s proud of his staff and Budweiser Gardens’ contribution to the city centre, telling CTV News London: “The building was intended to be a meeting place for the community and I think it succeeded.”