Following recent comments from the city’s mayor, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) owner Michael Andlauer said that Hamilton should accelerate its timeline for deciding the future of FirstOntario Centre.
In November, Andlauer publicly floated the idea of replacing FirstOntario Centre–home of the Bulldogs–with a new arena. The concept pitched by Andlauer called for the construction of a 5,000-to-10,000-seat venue, effectively creating a smaller facility than the aging 17,383-seat FirstOntario Centre. In addition, he offered to match the city’s contribution to the new arena dollar-for-dollar.
More recently, Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger indicated that the process of deciding the future of FirstOntario Centre could take a few years. In response, Andlauer–who would ideally like to see the Bulldogs playing in a new facility within three years–expressed concerns about the city taking too long to make its decision regarding a new arena. More from The Hamilton Spectator:
On Thursday, [Eisenberger] said his answer was a best guess based on past examples and it might just take a couple years. Perhaps less. But considering some issues — he cited Pier 7 and 8 — have taken 20 years to resolve, it won’t happen instantly.
“That’s not something that happens in a couple of months,” Eisenberger said.
Andlauer says he wasn’t surprised at this because the city doesn’t make quick changes. As a result, he knows it can’t happen overnight. And he says he wants to be fair and give the city enough room to deal with the issue properly. But a few years, he says, will probably become more than a few years.
“By that time, they’ll have spent millions of dollars just to keep the roof on,” Andlauer says. “They’re going to waste taxpayers’ money in fixing the facility rather than going out there and getting something new.”
In previous comments, Andlauer has estimated that a new, smaller arena could cost in the range of $60 to $100 million. FirstOntario Centre originally opened as Copps Coliseum in 1985, and was built with NHL ambitions in mind.