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Greater Sudbury city council unanimously approves new downtown arena build

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After what appears to have been very little debate, Greater Sudbury city council unanimously green-lit a $200 million plan to build a new arena and events centre in the south district of the downtown at Tuesday night's meeting.

The decision comes following a report that found building a new facility would be roughly the same cost as renovating the old arena and last longer.

  • READ: Renovating Sudbury Arena would cost $74M-$150M, would only last 25 years, report says

A motion made by Counc. Bill Leduc to defer the decision was rejected by all around the council table.

Before the arena vote, there were a few concerns that councillors wanted addressed, mainly the price and the reassurance that the city stays within the $200 million budget.

Council was told in order for the project to stay on budget, the best way forward would be to hire a project manager.

The city said building new would provide the greatest opportunity for investment and the least risk during construction.

Council previously voted to acquire several downtown properties in advance of the redevelopment and several buildings next to Tom Davies Square have been torn down.

Empty lot where Golden Grain used to sit on Brady Street in downtown Sudbury. April 16, 2024 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

The new building will require up to $135 million in additional financing and some of that will come from property tax.

"Funds to repay the debt will come from a combination of adjustments resulting from the ongoing core service review update, the enterprise asset management plan update, private contributions, alternate revenue sources such as the Municipal Accommodation Tax and a portion of the special infrastructure renewal levy," the city said in a news release.

"Together, these funding sources help manage financial implications that would otherwise require future property tax levy increases."

Jeff MacIntyre, of Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area, said the excitement about the new arena is just starting.

"It's really going to be now that the project is actually happening," MacIntyre said.

"We've had so many false starts. The false starts go back to 2008, so the fact that we're finally moving forward on this, I think is a win for the entire community."

Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre called the move a "big step" in investing in the city.

Greater Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre after city council voted to approve the building of a new $200 million arena downtown. April 16, 2024 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

"You know the events centre has been discussed for more than a decade now, the fact that it was unanimously approved, the 13, everybody on board, to move ahead with an events centre in the downtown core," Lefebvre said.

"Now, certainly, we need to take the steps to make it happen."

Sudbury Wolves owner Dario Zulich told CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca in an interview after the game on Tuesday night he is very excited about the decision.

Sudbury Wolves hockey team owner Dario Zulich. April 16, 2024 (Chelsea Papineau/CTV Northern Ontario)

"I didn't know which way it was going to go … it was really up to council," Zulich said.

"I was so excited when I got word of this, it's going to be remarkable, it's going to be great for the city, great for our downtown and it's going to be great for the Wolves Nation of course.

Leduc said he is somewhat disappointed in the decision despite voting in favour.

Greater Sudbury city Counc. Bill Leduc during arena vote. April 16, 2024 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

"I put a motion on the table to go out for public consultation so that the public can get involved in the decision of the arena, to make sure we're moving in the right direction. I was hoping to get support on that, obviously, I didn't," the councillor said.

It's not the first time the city has gone down this road, however.

In 2017, the council approved the $100 million Kingsway Entertainment District only to back out five years later following lengthy legal challenges from people opposed to the new location when costs ballooned to $215 million.

If all goes to plan, shovels could go in the ground in 2026 and the new arena would be finished in 2028.

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