New arena proposals pitched to Sudbury councillors

By Bruce Heidman, Sudbury Star

Downtown is out for the location of a new main arena for Greater Sudbury, if either of the two groups who made presentations to the city is eventually retained to build a new event centre.

Two groups – True North Strong, led by local business partners Dario Zulich and Perry Dellelce, and another by Dalron Group Limited with International Coliseums Company – made presentations during Friday’s Public Input and Information Session for Large Projects held in front of city council at city hall.

True North Strong, which also has project manager and former Sudbury Wolves player Andrew Dale and former Maple Leafs Entertainment president Tom Anselmi on board, proposed a $60-million, 6,000-seat event centre that anchors a large complex located on the Kingsway, a mile east from the corner of Kingsway and Falconbridge Road beside Mid North Motors on property owned by Zulich and Dellelce that would be a public-private enterprise the developers said would cost taxpayers nothing, with the city a 25% partner, but privately run.

“Our vision is for the best, most cost-effective, multi-use centre in Canada,” Zulich said. “Our plan will be a revenue centre for the city, not a cost centre. Our events centre will deliver an increased tax base with no net tax increase to our fellow citizens.

“This is not an arena, but an event centre that will touch the lives of everyone in Sudbury,” he told city council. “Many events pass through Sudbury without stopping because we don’t have a venue to accommodate them … that’s a shame and it shouldn’t happen anymore.”

The group proposed a public-private partnership it said will enable to plan to come to fruition as soon as possible. The city will provide the security and borrowing power behind the project rather than capital investment and the city would own the venue.

“We are not asking for money, we are just asking for council to make this a priority and commence the process,” Zulich said.

Zulich said the location makes sense.

“I think this project is in the downtown, the downtown of Greater Sudbury,” he said. “It is truly minutes away from the economic hub of the city, which is Costco, so it is downtown and that is why it works.

“Having it on the Kingsway also offers access to the Trans Canada highway and access to the airport, and those are important elements to consider in the location as well,” Dellelce added.

Anselmi, who was integral in the building of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and BMO Field, said a new events centre will bring Sudbury up to speed with other mid-sized cities in Canada, and the True North group includes the companies that helped build the aforementioned venues.

“It speaks volumes that HOK, KPMG and PMX are part of the True North project team,” he said. “HOK and PMX are the best in designing and building multi-use facilities and will ensure that Sudbury’s new events centre is second to none.”

The other proposal was made by ICC representative Fabio Fiumana. ICC built and operates 13 other arenas throughout North America. ICC proposed a fully privately site that seats 6,500 for sporting events and 7,500 for entertainment events and would be located on in the south end of the city at Regent Street and Remington Road on 60 acres of land already owned by Dalron. ICC would build and operate the facility.

“I think where we excel is that we have 13 of these properties in our portfolio, three of them in Canada, and we have the experience,” Fiumana said. “We’re not talking about doing something, we have done it. We can deal with issues, we can deal with financing and a number of things that will stymie someone who has not done this before.”

Fiumana said four sites across the city were considered.

“We found the south end is a better site,” he said. “We know a lot of people will come from out of town, especially with OHL games, and they need proximity to the highway and they need to know how to get there and they need a place to park.”

A new build downtown doesn’t make sense, he said.

“It could be done downtown, but what are you going to do with the Wolves while you build it?” he said. “Secondly, the current arena can be repurposed for community use very effectively. If there were land downtown you could build it, and what about the what about hotel and the retail?”

While the construction and operation of the ICC proposal would cost the city nothing, “the participation that will be sought from the city will be user fees,” Fiumana said.

Both proposals feature space on site for more development of an extra sports facility, be it for extra ice pads or indoor soccer fields, as well as retail, restaurant, hotel and office space.

Both arena presentations came from request for information and are not binding. More developers could come forward should the city move forward on the arena by making a request for proposals.