Planned downtown arena redesigned from original bid

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor

The design of proposed downtown arena has changed from the first bid to make it slightly smaller as it would now have 6,200 seats and a lower overall height. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

The design of proposed downtown arena has changed from the first bid to make it slightly smaller as it would now have 6,200 seats and a lower overall height. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

On September 9, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo held a media information session to help inform the public of the upcoming public engagement sessions on the possible downtown Sports and Entertainment Centre.

During the session, Ted Zlotnik, Director of Supply Chain Management, said the design of the building has been redesigned from the original bid. The proposed building will now have 6,200 fixed seats, which he says is more market-appropriate. The redesign would be a sunken single bowl building, allowing an at-grade concourse and would reduce the overall height of the building.

The current bid is being negotiated with the International Coliseums Corporation (ICC) and SMG has been named the operator of the facility. ICC has committed that it will guarantee a hockey team from one of either the Western Hockey League (WHL), East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) or American Hockey League (AHL) as a lead tenant. Zlotnik could not say which it would be, but that it would be revealed to the public during the open house sessions.

During those same sessions, costs of the facility will be revealed to the public, as well as, the minimum number of events being guaranteed.

“Because negotiations are ongoing with the proponent there are certain details that cannot be released just yet,” said Zlotnik, who emphasized nothing was being kept from the public, it was just that due to negotiations things cannot be revealed, until details are settled on.

“Because negotiations are ongoing with the proponent there are certain details that cannot be released just yet,” said Zlotnik, who emphasized nothing was being kept from the public, it was just that due to negotiations things cannot be revealed, until details are settled on.

In a press release from the municipality, it states “the proposed building could attract over 100 spectator events and 150 activities per year including hockey games, concerts, and trade shows”. When asked by the Connect if given the current deficit situation that the Regional Recreation Corporation is facing, is there concern the competition of a new facility would create a further higher deficit for the tax payers of the municipality.

Zlotnik said that they would not be in direct competition with MacDonald Island and Shell Place because they would work together, so that would not happen, and that this new building is a different type of venue. There are also other options that will be brought to council as additions.

A 508-stall parkade with retail in the base level would be built where the old California bingo hall stood. As well, a Sandman Hotel with a Shark Sports Bar and Grill could be built as an option where the Oil Can building was on the corner of Franklin and Hardin Streets.

Starting on September 22, residents will have their say on the proposed downtown entity. There will be an online survey posted at www.rmwb.com starting on September 22 and the municipality will have an information booth at the Fall Trade Show at MacDonald Island Park.

The open houses will also be held in the Grand Ballroom at Shell Place on September 22 and September 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Sept. 24 open house will be at the same location and held from 10 a.m., until 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

– Connect Weekly –