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Letter: If council had followed original advice, Sudburians would be a lot closer to new arena

‘Constituents should be angry that council behaved arrogantly and ignored paid-for professional advice’
Sudbury Arena. (File)

Earlier this year, council approved an additional $125,000 to re-evaluate the location for Sudbury’s new arena. 

The evaluation will be led by Ron Bidulka, a professional with 20 years’ of experience, including evaluating sports and entertainment developments for government agencies. 

Bidulka, a managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was involved in the original assessment of the arena’s location. 

The announcement was met with public backlash by constituents who are concerned about expenditure revisiting a decision that was decided on years ago.

But is the anger misplaced? Lost in the details is this review would not be required if city council followed consultants’ recommendations from the onset. 

Under the original study, the consultants recommended using a balanced scorecard approach to evaluate the location. This is a typical approach for evaluating trade-off options in studies for all industries.

From the June 2017 presentation, Greater Sudbury Event Center Site Evaluation, the consultants ultimately endorsed the downtown site with the highest overall score on the balanced scorecard. 

This endorsement was supported due to the location’s ability to meet tangible requirements (such as the availability of a sufficiently sized site to construct an event center) and aspects that are harder to measure (cohesion with the city’s overall strategic vision and the ability to realize complimentary benefits in the short to medium term when contrasted to other sites).

Parking for the downtown location was cited as a weakness, despite the consultants determining there was an inconvenient, albeit sufficient, supply of parking within a 10-minute walking radius of the location, and an expression of interest from a private developer in developing 600 new parking spots in the downtown area.

The reality is Sudbury’s council is composed of experts in various backgrounds, including education, business and media. 

The council is not composed of professionals who are proficient or experienced in the evaluation of new sports and entertainment developments – which is why they must rely on professionals at city hall supported by external consultants to provide recommendations on such matters. 

Had they followed the professional advice from the onset, the proper decision could have been made years ago and Sudburians would be closer to enjoying a new arena. 

Constituents should be angry that council behaved arrogantly and ignored paid-for professional advice, leaving us in the current situation.

Ian Berdusco

Greater Sudbury