Consultant urges Moncton to build new $74M coliseum

Moncton is studying the idea of building a new $74-million sports and entertainment centre in the city's downtown, replacing the aging Moncton Coliseum.

Moncton is studying the idea of building a new $74-million sports and entertainment centre in the city's downtown to replace the aging Moncton Coliseum.

City council said on Monday it will form a committee of councillors and citizens to consider whether to build a 9,000-seat centre.

Jonathan Hack, a Toronto-based consultant hired by the city, said he is enthusiastic about the impact a new coliseum could have on the city's downtown area.

Hack said it's probably a waste of money to renovate the 40-year-old, 6,500-seat coliseum.

"Moncton has the capacity to punch well above its weight," Hack said.

He said a new building will rejuvenate the downtown and pay for itself by attracting up to 50 per cent more shows.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he believes the project is worth the risk.

"Based on the information I've seen that this would be beneficial for the city and the downtown," LeBlanc said.

The new committee will also consider whether to hold a plebiscite.

LeBlanc called for a new coliseum after the record-breaking Elton John concert last year.

The Elton John show at the Moncton Coliseum drew more than 8,700 fans — well over the Coliseum's stated seating capacity of 7,200.

LeBlanc said concert promoters have told him that the roof of the Coliseum is too low to light and stage many touring acts.

Some councillors wary of big investment

However, some councillors aren't ready to say whether they'll gamble on such a huge investment.

Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said city staff must crunch the numbers before he lends his support to the project.

"I just want to raise expectations right off the bat before the next step is conducted," Bourgeois said.

Coun. Brian Hicks said even with the profits as well as provincial and federal money the new centre would still cost each taxpayer an extra $80 a year.

The Moncton Coliseum is the home to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Moncton Wildcats and is a regular stop for many touring acts that hit New Brunswick.