New basketball court, signature Hamilton show put Arkells back in community spotlight

WATCH: Arkells frontman Max Kerman hosted the opening of a new community pro basketball court at Hamilton's Woodlands Park on June 24, 2022.

Frontman Max Kerman says it’ll be “the busiest weekend” of the year for Arkells who are not only hosting the signature ‘The Rally’ show at Tim Horton’s field, but unveiling a pro outdoor basketball court in Hamilton Centre.

On the verge of releasing new music, the Hamilton band’s itinerary is full with rehearsals, the “Rally Court” opening at Woodlands Park Friday and a hometown show on Saturday night that Kerman says will be the “easiest part” of his week.

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“Yeah, well we learned a lot from the last Rally, the first … in 2018, so we have a bit of a blueprint going into it,” Kerman told 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

“So there’s things that we know how to do that we were absolutely newbies at back in 2018 and we’ve kind of grown it since then as well.”

Also on the schedule during the bands community blitz will be a pre-show pop-up market, presented by Hamilton Flea, outside Gate 1 at Tim Hortons 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday featuring local artisans, music and vendors.

Prior to the show, the band plans to check out the market themselves with a brief bike-share ride with Hamiltonians leaving Gore Park during the noon hour Saturday culminating in free bike tune-ups for those who need it at the market.

A festival-like atmosphere is something Kerman and the band members have dreamed of since concocting “The Rally” concept in 2018, which has stalled in recent times amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to provincially mandated gathering limits.

“It’s all in the programing, all the details that we’re putting into the week. It’s a labor of love,” Kerman remarked.

“It’s really … so much more than just a concert to us.”

More than 24,000 people attended the 2018 event, the largest audience the band had ever performed in front of.

The second show, originally set for June 2020, was initially postponed until June 2021 before being set aside again to this coming weekend.

Singer-songwriter K-Flay, L.A.’s Mt Joy and MC Haviah Mighty will join Arkells for Saturday’s show.

Tickets are still on sale through the band’s website.

A dollar from every ticket sold will go towards supporting work from Indwell to bolster permanent, affordable housing in Hamilton.

A penchant for playing basketball on pro outdoor courts was behind a community drive by Kerman and some other notable Hamiltonians, who will be making it a reality on Friday.

The unveiling of the new accessible spot at Woodlands Park is happening months after the singer embarked on a mission to refurbish a multi-use court with pro backboards, bleachers and acrylic court surface.

Kerman says the idea of transforming a lower city court came during tour stops across North America in which the band played pickup games in local parks.

“I like to try to check out all the local community parks and pickup games … happening in Chicago, L.A. or New York, Edmonton or Vancouver,” said Kerman.

“I realized that Hamilton doesn’t really have any glass backboards.”

After reaching out to city councillors Jason Farr and Nrinder Nann, Kerman was put in touch with a number of executives and foundations, like Ron Foxcroft and the Foxcroft Family Foundation, to put the potential spectacle on the map.

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“So Ron immediately was in to donate a bunch of money,” Kerman said. “The Nick Nurse Foundation, I went to Nick and he emailed me back in 20 minutes as in, Superfan Nav, who we all know as Raptors fans … he got on board and Canada Basketball did as well.”

In all, the band raised $80,000 for the upgrades which included refurbished light fixtures.

City councillors moved to dub the new space ‘The Rally Court’ at a recent public works meeting to recognize the band’s fundraising efforts.

The court will mark its official opening with a free celebratory basketball game at 1 p.m. on Friday.

– with files from Global News’ Lisa Polewski

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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