A long-awaited municipal report has been tabled, revealing the latest-known condition of the Sudbury Community Arena and proposing four options.
According to the report, which the city’s elected officials requested in September 2022 and are slated to debate during their July 11 meeting, the city can:
- Maintain the downtown arena at current levels of service, addressing issues as they arise. Its total projected capital needs over a period of 10 years is $15.6 million.
- Renovate the existing arena, using one of a handful of options presented to city council during the past several years. Inflated to 2023 dollars, they range in price from $74 million to $150 million.
- Build a new standalone events centre.The previously proposed Kingsway Entertainment District was slated to cost $215 million when city council voted it down last year. For a similar downtown project, the city estimates “a cost in the $200-million range is appropriate.”
- A new-build events centre as part of a larger downtown redevelopment. This option is similar to building a new standalone events centre, but envisions it to accompany “complementary private business development, either as a component of a larger district development or as triggered by the public sector investment in the event centre facility.” There was no cost estimate for this option, but city staff plan on presenting a more detailed analysis of this option during the Sept. 26 city council meeting.
As previously reported, the downtown Sudbury Community Arena, built in 1951, appears to be holding up well, but will need repairs to keep it operating at a status-quo level.
“It was built in a period of the city’s history when it was experiencing post-war economic success and community expectations were high for public services that supported the city’s growth and quality of life,” city strategic initiatives, communications and citizen services executive director Ian Wood wrote in his report to city council.
“Like most public facilities in most cities over the past 70 years, regular investment in asset renewal and repair/maintenance was inconsistent and, generally, not aligned with the timing or level of expenditure to keep the facility in a state of good repair.”
The downtown arena “has surpassed its expected service life, according to Wood’s report, which notes its facility condition index ranking ranks the building as being in “fair” condition today, but can potentially reach “poor” condition by 2025.
The fair ranking “describes a facility that is safe to use, but age and deterioration are evident.”
“From the soils below the foundations up to the roof structure, there are limitations associated with maintaining the Sudbury Community Arena by extending its service life,” his report notes.
The existing building doesn’t have enough space to increase seating to its desired capacity, according to Wood’s report. It currently has 4,610 fixed seats and a total capacity of 5,100 during performance events with floor seating. Hockey Canada reported in April that a desired seating total is in the range of 7,000 for championship events.
The building is currently operating under snow load restrictions, with structural analysis of its low roof areas on the north and south side of the arena “under-designed to accommodate snow accumulation loading within the snow drift area.” The interim solution has been monitoring it to prevent more than 16 inches of snow from accumulating.
If city council were to proceed with an option that uses the existing building, Wood recommended conducting a detailed structural analysis of it beforehand, at an estimated cost of $100,000, which would determine the need for additional tests and analysis at additional cost.
In his report, Wood notes that a new build, whether it be standalone or as part of a larger downtown development, will best meet or exceed city council’s goals around such things as accessibility, event viewing experience and event attraction.
Earlier this year, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario regional service co-ordinator Nadine Law toured the downtown arena with Sudbury.com, and pointed out several deficiencies as it relates to its accessibility features.
“Although many upgrades can be completed within the existing facility, design constraints limit the potential for certain improvement upgrades,” according to Wood’s report.
Greater Sudbury city council will discuss the report and its options for the Sudbury Community Arena during their city council meeting on July 11, which begins at 1 p.m. The meeting can be viewed in-person at council chambers in Tom Davies Square, or online by clicking here.
The July 11 meeting will also include a staff presentation on the library and art gallery project, formerly known as the Junction East Cultural Hub. The details of this presentation have not yet been posted online.
In February, city council members voted to reduce the scope of the library/art gallery project, then proposed at $98.5 million, by $33.5 million, and for city administration to look at alternative locations. At the time, the plan was for it to be built on the Sudbury Theatre Centre parking lot downtown, and Mayor Paul Lefebvre said he remained committed to a downtown location.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.