Wolves owner ‘disappointed’ by arena vote

by: Darren MacDonald – www.sudbury.com

The new owner of the Sudbury Wolves says he’s working on a “Plan B” after city council rejected a motion this week to speed up a decision on building a new arena.

Dario Zulich, who has proposed building the facility on land he and his partners own on The Kingsway, said Thursday he was hoping for a different result.

“I was disappointed,” Zulich said. “I’m going to have to consider Plan B and C, because I always have a Plan B and C. And eventually I’ll even have a Plan D. So I’ll have to reconsider all of my options.

“But you know what, it’s just going to take its due course. I think the right decision will be made sooner or later.”

Meeting on Tuesday, councillors voted on a motion from Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan to have the RFP for the events centre ready by January, with a 30-day deadline for bids. An amended motion extending the deadline to 90 days to give groups more time to prepare bids was defeated 6-5. Without that extension, Kirwan’s motion was defeated 9-2.

That means city staff is adhering to the original deadline, which is to have the criteria for the RFP ready by the end of June, and the actual RFP being issued some time after that.

However, Mayor Brian Bigger has said the June deadline could be moved up to March, and on Tuesday, he said staff know how important an issue this is and will work as quickly as possible.

Zulich attended Tuesday’s meeting, and walked out before the final vote. He said it wasn’t because he was upset.

“Our team was playing in Barrie and I needed to get in touch with (them),” he said. “I’ve got a hockey team to run.”

But he has heard from many in the community who were hoping council would get moving on the project,

“A lot of people would like to see something happen,” Zulich said. “And so does council, frankly. It’s just going to take a little longer than we would all like to see.

“We don’t want to make decisions in haste, for sure. All good things take time (So) I’m disappointed, but I’m still optimistic that it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

Time is a factor, he added, when asked how long the proposal he first made last November will stay on the table.

“The stars are only aligned for a short while,” he said. “The federal and provincial governments aren’t going to be around forever to help out with projects. And so I’m just hoping that the process can be completed in time for that.

“This city needs something to drive it economically. We need an economic boost. We need to create jobs, and the sooner the better, as far as I’m concerned. But we have to do the right things.”

When asked whether the plan he and his partners have put together will cost taxpayer’s money up front, Zulich said he’ll have to wait to see what’s in the actual RFP before he can properly evaluate that.

“An arena is an expensive proposition,” he said. “There are a number of options in our proposal. We’re just waiting for the RFP to come out so we can put our case forward. I’m hoping we can do that sooner rather than later.

“But I’m willing to wait and abide by the process that council puts forward. In the interim, we have to consider Plan B or C.”