Although visual designs of what the Kingsway Entertainment District arena is proposed to look like remain months away, a written walk-through has already been provided to the public.
Within the hundreds of pages that make up the project’s request for proposal, the city has compiled a long list of detailed requirements it expects of its three shortlisted bidding groups.
“This is a product of everything we’ve shown publicly,” city engineering services director David Shelsted said of the documents, which although succinct in many respects leave various points up to the interpretation of the bidders.
“This is a very exciting project,” Mayor Brian Bigger said of what has been compiled into the building’s description. “I’m very excited for the fans and attendees and visitors that will go to the events centre, as well as for the performers. … I’m really looking forward to the designs that get refined by the three proponents.”
Located off of The Kingsway, the arena with seating for 5,800 will be located within a piece of land encircled by a horseshoe road whose two ends link back up with The Kingsway.
A rectangular section of land at the centre of the property situates the events centre at the northeast and the casino and hotel at the northwest, with Festival Square serving as its centrepiece between the three buildings.
Festival Square will help tie the project together, Shelsted said, adding that the city, Gateway Casinos and Genesis Hospitality (hotel) will all play a role in deciding what it will look like.
“It’s basically a rectangular open area that’s nestled between the hotel, the casino and the events centre, and would be a space that is able to be either dedicated to events itself or a gathering spot pre- and post-event,” he said,” adding that it’s likely to consist of things like patio space and sitting areas.
GOVA Transit will drop pick up and drop off passengers at this location and will have a dedicated bus loop access at Festival Square’s northwestern edge which includes a shelter for people waiting in queues.
The nuances of the private casino and hotel to the southwest will be up to the Gateway Casinos and Genesis Hospitality respectively, with Genesis Hospitality noting at latest update in December that they’d yet to determine the hotel’s brand and size but that they were committed to building, owning and operating the facility.
Gateway Casinos, meanwhile, put their investment into site preparation work on hold at the last minute, which delayed the work scheduled to begin on Nov. 29. They’re affirmed their commitment to the project, but it’s unclear when they will again determine it commercially reasonable to continue funding the next phase of the project.
The events centre/arena, meanwhile, is a municipal investment, which means an in-depth public tendering process that allows the community an early look at what is being proposed.
The arena’s main lobby will be 200-square-metres in size and open onto Festival Square, which the request for proposal document notes will best integrate it with the hotel and casino.
As with other areas of the building, the request for proposal digs into a number of specifics, including a requirement that the floors be porcelain, ceramic or a non-slip stone tile or equivalent and that the doors be anodized aluminum to match the glazing wall system.
This will open into the concourse, which provides the main circulation for spectators around the arena space and can be configured in a number of ways depending on the proponent. This concourse will either be U-shaped around the floor level, leaving a closed off area at the back for the Zamboni and player/performer access, or offer a full lap around the arena by placing it at mid-level or at the top of the seating area.
The top of the seating area is not ideal for some performers who perform a full blackout, Shelsted said.
The concourse will include commercial space, concessions, washroom and access to seating.
This part of the proposed arena, which is far more robust than the Sudbury Community Arena’s concourse, is one of its more exciting components, Bigger said.
“Half the experience is watching the hockey game, the other half of the experience is walking in a circuit and meeting up with friends, neighbours, acquaintances, people you know from work, so it’s a social experience,” he said, adding that what has been proposed is considered best practice in new OHL arenas.
Concessions will be evenly distributed along the concourse, with the design allowing for 35 permanent points of sale.
Washrooms will include a total of 35 women’s toilet fixtures in larger washroom clusters, 28 toilets or urinals for men’s washrooms and four single universal toilets.
Various offices, conference rooms, storage rooms and other administrative buildings have been included, while the Sudbury Wolves’ accommodations are an improvement upon what they’re currently contending with at the Sudbury Community Arena.
“It’s a significant step up,” Shelsted said. “If you walk around the arena during the course of the day, they actually put exercise bikes and stuff like that into the hallways because they’ve got no dedicated space to put that.”
The hockey team will get a dressing room suite, lounge, showers, therapy area, steam room, sauna, therapy pool, fitness suite, workshop space, interview/media room and various offices, which Shelsted said meeting the current standards for OHL arenas.
Performers are also slated to receive state-of-the-art accommodations, including a green room, performers’ lounge area, changerooms, kitchen and other spaces.
“What we currently do is hang some curtains on top of some of the existing community dressing rooms,” Shelsted said. “But unfortunately, a hockey dressing room still smells like a hockey dressing room – the amenities aren’t there.”
Getting equipment in and out of the arena will also be a lot easier at the new space than the existing downtown arena, Shelsted added.
Unlike the current facility, which requires transport trailers to park behind the building and move their equipment down a ramp and onto the ice floor, the new facility will allow roadies to park their trailers on the ice floor and load equipment directly into place.
Also unlike the current facility, opening acts will not have to wait until the entire show is over before they can move their equipment, with a back entrance allowing them to shift their equipment out while the headliner is still on the stage.
Sound quality is another top priority at the new facility.
The RFP documents make numerous mention of the facility’s acoustics and noise design, and Shelsted said the proponent is required to have an acoustical specialist on their team. The city has also retained a specialist of their own to review each proponent’s plans, Shelsted said, “so the sound quality is as best as we can get.”
These state-of-the-art components will help ensure the arena attracts more big name acts, Bigger said, adding that the city currently misses out on a lot of performances that could easily add Sudbury to their touring schedule between Toronto and Winnipeg.
Also aiding in the performance space will be a score clock that pulls up into the ceiling to improve sightlines and a performance space that can be adapted to accommodate various uses, Bigger, said, adding that he’s “looking forward to seeing what the prospects are.”
The three teams shortlisted in the design/build request for proposal include:
- Ball/TESC Construction Inc. (Joint Venture)/Architecture 49 Inc.
- EllisDon Corporation/BBB Architects Toronto Inc., in conjunction with J. L. Richards & Associates Limited
- PCL Constructors Canada Inc./Parkin Architects Ltd.
The current timeline includes city council approval of a project completion agreement in the third quarter of the year, which will accompany the approval of a final budget and event design/build request for proposal.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year for a grand opening in 2025.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.