Another step towards a new event center/arena
by Randy Pascal
Good, bad, or indifferent, there's no denying that Greater Sudbury City Council are making things happen these days.
Lost somewhat in the shadow of the decision to move forward with the Maley Drive Extension Project was a motion, not long thereafter, that involved
the prioritization of four of the "Big Project" ideas that were presented to council in November.
The inclusion of a new "hockey arena/event center" was music to the ears of Andrew Dale, project manager with the True North Strong
initiative targetting the development of property along the Kingsway, a couple of kilometres east of the intersection with Falconbridge Road.
"I think we have to be encouraged," said Dale, a former member of the Sudbury Wolves, selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the 8th round of
the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
"Council has prioritized an event center, an arena, whatever you want to call it. The questions then involve what's the process, what's the next step.
That's maybe the short unknown."
Joining a second collective, this one involving Dalron Group Limited, in approaching Sudbury council some six months ago, the two distinct parties have outlined the key
differences in their respective visions, with Dalron targetting a south end development plan.
"We've been busy sharing our idea that an event center is the right kind of investment, at this time," said Dale. "We're enthused and excited that
we're moving forward."
"We didn't just propose a building, we proposed a destination," Dale continued. "That destination included the catalyst, which is the event center. But
to make that event center more practical, and a better tool for the local economy, we've talked about other facilities."
"Our vision can include for all those things, and that's the flexibility of the space we have." While there is no consensus, as of yet, on exactly what
components would be included within the event center itself, Dale is confident that his group has the ability to adapt.
"We've looked at multiple ice pads, we've looked at multiple uses, we've looked at "flex space", as we've been calling it," he stated. "At the end of
the day, we've always envisioned this as a municipally-owned civic asset, that is the community event center."
"It will host those large concerts, it will host those sporting events, it will host those tourism events, those things that draw people to our region,"
Dale continued. "Ultimately, our location has a ton of land, a ton of space, a ton of accessibility. Those are the things that make sense for the Greater
City of Sudbury."
Certainly, neither of the two competing groups is oblivious to the concerns over the need to re-energize the center of the City. "We recognize that there
is a need for development in the downtown core," said Dale.
"The True North Strong team has looked at a variety of communities. We've seen successful community initiatives that are buildings outside the downtown
core, that are inside of the downtown core, and in between."
"We haven't found a community that provides an exact direct comparison to Greater Sudbury," Dale suggested. "So Greater Sudbury has to come up with its
own answers, its own unique process, but I think the timing to do that is now."
While the topic of finding a replacement to the existing Sudbury Arena, or looking at alternatives that involve the refurbishment of same, have
been bandied about for years now, Dale believes that talk will soon give way to action, of some sort.
"I think a good, comprehensive RFP (Request for Proposal) can be developed in the next two to four months," he said. "If you can bolt on additional uses
that are in that same destination, adding toursim and economic growth capacity, then I think you have a sustainable model, and that's definitely what
we've put forward."