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Montreal roller derby looking for new home after Mile End arena set to close for renovations

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Roller derby in Montreal is facing an existential crisis after the Saint-Louis Arena in the Mile-End where skaters have been rocking the flat track for almost two decades is closing for renovations.

Leann Brown is one of those who has skated on the track for years.

"What I love about roller derby is that it is so inclusive and accessible," she said. "I am in my 40s, and I am still able to compete at a high level.

For 18 years, the jammers and blockers in Montreal have been drawing crowds to the arena.

There is also a junior league, which will also need to find a new home during the renovations.

"They also practice at the same place that we do," said Brown. "It's really nice to be able to collaborate with them, so they will also be looking for a new home."

Lowlife MTL Roller Skate Shop co-owner Tracey Mattinson said the ripple effect of the arena closing can't be ignored.

"In finding a new space without the support of the city, it's very difficult," she said. "We are tied greatly to the league, and if there's an impact to the league, there's definitely going to be an impact to our business."

A City of Montreal spokesperson said their sports department is in contact with the roller derby league to find a solution.

That help, Brown and Mattinson said, would be a game-changer.

"It's a women's sport. It's a queer sport," said Mattinson. "It is very open, very accepting to a lot of those marginalized communities, which a lot of sports can be more difficult to have an accepting community like that. And so I think it's important for sports like roller derby to have a space and for the city to recognize us."

"Finding space for community is important," said Brown.

The league needs to find a space before the end of August or it's game over for Montreal Roller Derby. 

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