A forthcoming study will analyze Hamilton, ON’s options for overhauling the FirstOntario Centre, the home of the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL).
FirstOntario Centre originally opened in 1985, and is seen in some circles as being in dire need of upgrades–particularly after Hamilton’s bid for the 2018 Memorial Cup came up short. A forthcoming study is expected to provide a few options for the venue.
A report from Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects (BBB) will include a detailed analysis on renovations to the arena, and will be presented to city officials on April 5. More details will be released then, but it is expected that the report will include two options–a plan that calls for scaling down and modernizing the arena, and another that could provide the venue with NHL-caliber amenities. More from The Hamilton Spectator:
One involves turning the lower bowl into a state-of-the-art 8,000-or-so seat facility. The other is a full renovation, elevating the 17,000-seat building to current NHL and other pro league standards.
Though the report remains confidential, the first option is believed to be in the $70-million range while the second clocks in at around $250 million.
[Director of strategic partnerships and revenue generation John] Hertel says recommending either option is “premature” at this stage. Instead, staff will look to council for direction to develop a process for next steps. Hertel expects that to include studying what comparable communities have done with their facilities, and seeking feedback from key stakeholders and community members.
Until the report comes out and city officials weigh in with their thoughts, it will remain to be seen which path–if any–Hamilton pursues. The report was to have been released on March 22, but that presentation was delayed so that mayor Fred Eisenberger and director of economic development Glen Norton could be on hand for the discussion.