Moncton has three major players interested in developing a new downtown sports and entertainment complex at the former Highfield Square Mall property, city officials announced on Monday.

EllisDon, known for Toronto's Rogers Centre, will be among those to participate in the request for proposals process, slated to begin this fall, said Jacques Dubé, Moncton's city manager.

The other contenders include: Bird Construction, responsible for the Thunderbird Sports Centre, built for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and L'Aréna des Canadiens Inc.'s Evenko, which built the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens, he said.

"We have some players we can play with," said Dubé.

"The question is, what are the rules? And what's it going to cost?"

si-nb-jacques-dube-220

Jacques Dubé, the city manager, said council should have all the information it needs to make a decision on the proposed project within the next 15 months. (CBC)

Dubé said he expects council will begin to evaluate each proposal next spring and should have all the information it needs to make a decision within the next 15 months.

Meanwhile, council must decide by this June whether to purchase the 4.5 hectares of land for the project, which is estimated to cost between $80 million and $100 million.

"This is not a done deal, but council is driving this process," Dubé said.

The city has been pushing for a new arena and convention centre for several years.

In 2011, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, rejected Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre.

However, the city finalized an agreement last year that gives it the option to buy the $6 million parcel of land in the Highfield Square area. The city paid $25,000 to acquire the option agreement.

Downtown Moncton Inc. has already committed $2.5 million toward the project.