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FirstOntario Centre renovations unveiled

Renovations to FirstOntario Centre, once projected as an NHL venue and most recently the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, will commence next spring as the 1985 arena becomes the centerpiece of new entertainment district.

The former Cops Coliseum will undergo a privately financed facelift. The arena isn’t being downsized, with hockey capacity remaining at approximately 17,500, but virtually every other part of the arena experience is being overhauled. The work will include widened concourses, a new exterior façade, upgraded street access with new lounges, a new roof with higher live load capabilities, new locker rooms, Some 80,000 square feet in storage space will be converted to public spaces like restaurants and club spaces.

The C$500-million renovation will be privately financed by the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group LP (HUPEG), a consortium of investors, development partners and venue operators. The conversion and subsequent management will be led by the new Canadian division of Oak View Group. From the Globe and Mail:

The overall redevelopment plan aims for a live-work-play experience similar to Toronto’s Distillery District and Maple Leaf Square (aka Jurassic Park), Edmonton’s Ice District and L.A. Live in Los Angeles, says Jasper Kujavsky, director of the arena renovation project and a HUPEG founding partner.

The arena has “good bones,” Mr. Kujavsky says, and is situated close to downtown hotels, restaurants, shops and public transit, including the future Light Rail Transit system.

Renderings courtesy City of Hamilton.

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