Build new $80M Moncton coliseum: report
Task force says city must get N.B., federal governments to help fund new facility
A task force report is recommending Moncton build a new $80-million downtown sports and entertainment complex to replace the city's aging Moncton Coliseum.
For the past seven months Jim Lockyer and his committee have been looking at the possibilities of fixing up or replacing the 40-year-old arena.
Lockyer said as far as he's concerned it doesn't make sense to spend $40 million to renovate the 6,500-seat coliseum.
"We are losing entertainment products, for example, just in the last few months we've lost Cirque de Soleil, we've lost Stars on Ice, we've lost Martina McBride, we've lost Brad Paisley all because of the way the building is structured," he said.
Lockyer said the low roof at the coliseum doesn't allow for the spectacular sets shows travel with these days.
The facility's design also limits the sporting events that can be hosted in Moncton.
Last year, there were problems maintaining the ice during the World Curling Championships.
The facility's main tenant is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats.
The Lockyer report comes almost a year after a Toronto-based consultant recommended building a $74-million sports and entertainment centre that would hold 9,000 people in the city's downtown.
Jonathan Heck, the consultant hired to produce the 2009 report, said at the time that a new building will rejuvenate the downtown and pay for itself by attracting up to 50 per cent more shows.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc struck the committee of councillors and citizens to consider the consultant's report last June.
Along with the limitations brought on by the design, Lockyer said the city-owned coliseum has never made money. Instead, he said, the building has cost taxpayers $1 million every year.
His committee believes a new downtown complex would at least break even and boost economic development.
"We're now reaching the point where we need to renew that effort and give it more impetus and have the community come together and say, 'Yes we want to maintain that tradition that we've established say at the concert site out on Magnetic Hill,'" Lockyer said.
"But we need to do it in the downtown core with a facility that could take smaller concerts but as big as the touring ones that we have today."
Lockyer said he is confident there is a way to build the new downtown facility if federal and provincial governments help.