True North Strong expands on original plan for an arena and events centre

by: Jonathan Migneault.

The group behind a proposed arena and multi-purpose events centre on the Kingsway, that would replace the Sudbury Arena, has expanded on its original proposal to the city.

In November  2015 a group of local investors and developers called True North Strong proposed plans for a $60-million arena and events centre to be build on a 170-acre property in the Jack Nicholas Business and Innovation Park along the Kingsway.

True North Strong partners Dario Zulich and Andrew Dale announced Monday their revised plan would accommodate between 7,000 and 8,000 seats, and would include two additional ice pads to help replace some of the city’s aging infrastructure.

“We all know the city needs high quality ice pads for community use,” said Zulich. “Our location for a new events centre offers the space for a 7,000-plus seat bowl and two additional ice pads for the community, something other potential locations cannot accommodate.”

True North Strong originally proposed the project would cost around $60 million, but with the recent additions that cost will increase, said Zulich.

But he added the greater scale also comes with efficiencies. It is cheaper to operate two ice pads connected to the same facility, for example, than two separate ice pads, he said.

The business plan the group presented in November 2015 called for a public-private partnership.

Local taxpayers wouldn’t have to provide money up front, instead the city would provide “the security and borrowing power behind the project rather than capital investment.”

In turn, the group would operate the facility for 30 years, then turn it over to the city, under a similar arrangement as the $60 million biosolids plant completed in 2014.

Former Sudbury Mayor Jim Gordon has lent his support to the plan, which he said would help Sudbury compete for major entertainers it misses out on due to the aging Sudbury Arena.

Gordon said the current Sudbury Arena could be re-purposed to better serve the city’s downtown.

“There’s no reason not to keep that building and reposition it,” he said.

With “a little imagination” the building could host a new art gallery, indoor farmer’s market, art gallery, or another public space, Gordon said.

Last November a partnership between McCor Management and Dalron Construction proposed a plan for a $70-million arena in Sudbury’s south end that would host 6,500 people for hockey games, and 7,500 attendees for other events.

The proposal included an indoor soccer stadium, a second ice rink and several commercial amenities.

The preliminary budget is $70.5 million to build, as well as $5 million to operate each year.

The city has not yet issued a request for proposals for a new arena and events centre.