A proposed Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) arena project calls for a new venue and parking garage at CF Lime Ridge mall that would be funded in a public-private endeavor, according to The Hamilton Spectator. However, it remains to be seen if city officials will pursue this idea as they explore arena options.
Hamilton is currently served by FirstOntario Centre, an aging facility whose worsening condition has prompted some calls for a replacement. Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer is behind a concept to construct a new arena at the CF Lime Ridge mall. Along with mall owner Cadillac Fairview, Andlauer has floated the plan as a public-private endeavor, but until recently many details behind the proposal remained unknown. Some new information has come to light, however, with The Hamilton Spectator reporting that the concept calls for a 6,000-7,500 seat arena that would be served by a new 1,800-space parking garage.
According to the proposal, the Bulldogs would “partially offset” the project’s costs while assuming maintenance of the arena. There are still some details that remain unknown at this point, including the project’s cost and financial contributions of each party. It also remains to be seen if city officials–who will vote Wednesday on proposal to create a steering committee to explore a potential C$130 million downtown arena–will study the CF Lime Ridge concept. Andlauer’s plan calls for the CF Lime Ridge mall arena to open in March 2022, and he fears that planning for a new downtown arena could push the completion of a new facility back several years. More from The Hamilton Spectator:
While Andlauer would not comment on cost-sharing Monday, in the past the team owner has suggested he would make a “substantial” contribution — possibly up to half the cost — toward a Mountain arena built by the city.
The formal proposal to the city suggests building an arena with between 6,000 and 7,500 seats. It also sets an expected construction start date of March 2020 and an opening day exactly two years later.
Andlauer recently told the Spectator he is still willing to consider the city’s downtown plans — if council moves fast enough.
A consultant estimate of five years to open a new downtown building is too long to wait, he said.
The steering committee would be tasked with determining a downtown location for the arena, while seeking a private partner to help fund the project. It is expected that a proposal to study Andlauer’s arena proposal will be introduced at Wednesday’s city council meeting, but whether it moves forward remains to be seen.
First opening as Copps Coliseum in 1985, the 17,383-seat FirstOntario Centre was built with NHL ambitions in mind. Andlauer has expressed his desire for a modern and smaller arena, one that would be more fitting to OHL operations rather than designed to attract the NHL. The Bulldogs are currently the anchor tenant of FirstOntario Centre, and have a year remaining on their lease.
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