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Study: Downtown is Preferred Location For Sudbury Arena

Sudbury Wolves

The results of a study give high marks to the prospect of building a new arena in downtown Sudbury, findings that come as officials approach a key vote. 

Sudbury, ON officials have been weighing their options for the construction of a new arena that, if built, could be home to the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves. A recent evaluation of sites options by PricewaterhouseCoopers determined that construction of a new arena downtown is the preferable option.

The proposed downtown site is along Minto Street, and was granted a higher overall rating in the study than a location on The Kingsway. Within the study, it was concluded that a downtown arena would better support existing businesses and infrastructure in comparison to The Kingsway site, which would require extensive zoning changes to accommodate an arena and could therefore taking longer to complete.

It did, however, give The Kingsway property the edge in two points of criteria, including cost and parking. The Kingsway site is controlled by Wolves owner Dario Zulich, who has been involved in the proposed True Strong North entertainment district that could include a casino, a hotel and conference center, and a motorsports park.

With the results of the study in hand, the city is expected to vote on the arena site next week. Some officials–including councillor Robert Kirwan–are stating that The Kingsway site could provide economic benefit, even if the study points out some advantages of the downtown location. More from The Sudbury Star:

“It is my opinion that a decision to put the arena/event centre on the True North Strong Kingsway property will be the catalyst that will spark the concurrent development of the new Gateway Casino plus a major hotel and conference centre that will become the core foundation which will support the materialization of the True North Strong regional entertainment district,” Kirwan continued. “There are a number of other complementary commercial enterprises that are ready to locate on the property once the three-part anchor is established. In addition, the Sudbury District Motorsports Association has also indicated that it will be purchasing 100 acres of crown land adjacent to the property and will be developing a motorplex for drag racing, oval racing, mud bogs, demolition derby, motocross and snowcross.”

Kirwan said all other developments on Zulich’s land depend on the arena. He also said that downtown lacks the space for hotels, casinos, waterparks and the various other venues Zulich would like to see on his land.

While Zulich has big plans for his space on The Kingsway, the land needs to be rezoned, which could delay the project, PwC found. The consultants also said there are many what-ifs related to Zulich’s ideas.

“Further development is not guaranteed and would be subject to future real estate and financial investment decisions by third parties,” the staff report indicated. “The property requires rezoning, which would extend the time needed to commence event centre construction by a year or more.”

While they were two of the more notable candidates in the mix, downtown and The Kingsway were not the only options to be considered in the report, which also weighed the third-ranked Algonquin Road and the fourth-ranked MacIsaac Drive. The Wolves currently play their games at the the Sudbury Community Arena.

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