Hamilton City Council members are calling for more information on a proposed Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) arena, wanting more details before deciding whether to consider the plan.
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, calling for a new 6,000-seat arena and 1,800 space parking garage. At this point, however, a few key details remain unknown, including the cost and proposed financial contributions of each party involved in the project.
On Wednesday, the Hamilton City Council was expected to vote on creating a steering committee that would explore the separate idea of a new downtown arena. While officials ultimately held off on making that decision, they also want Andlauer to come before the council and provide more information on his plan before deciding whether it warrants further consideration. More from The Hamilton Spectator:
“Let’s find out exactly how much money he is putting on the table,” said Coun. Brad Clark, who put forward a successful motion to invite Andlauer to council to answer questions and publicly share more proposal details.
Coun. Sam Merulla agreed, calling the proposal “not very thorough” and expressing frustration it has derailed council’s focus from redeveloping its downtown properties.
He also suggested the city make the confidential arena proposal public. Council ultimately decided to consult with the team owner first.
The city has been debating the potential exploration of a C$130 million arena that would be constructed downtown. A steering committee would be tasked with settling on a preferred site, while seeking a private partner that would help fund the project. For his part, Andlauer believes that an arena at CF Lime Ridge could be completed by March 2022, and has expressed concern that planning for a downtown arena could delay the completion of a new facility by several years.
Debate in Hamilton comes as officials try to address the future of FirstOntario Centre, an aging facility whose worsening condition has prompted some calls for a replacement. 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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