Moncton mayor confident corporations, citizens will donate to new downtown centre

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold is feeling optimistic about a fundraising campaign launched Wednesday to support the new downtown events centre and plaza, slated to open in September.

Our Urban Heart campaign has raised $1.6M toward still unnamed 'game-changer' centre

Mayor Dawn Arnold said she's excited to show off the 'world-class' downtown centre to citizens. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold is feeling optimistic about a fundraising campaign launched Wednesday to support the new downtown events centre and plaza, slated to open in September.

The goal of the Our Urban Hearts partnership campaign is to raise $5 million toward the $113-million facility and $1.6 million has already been secured.

The corporate community has stepped up, she said.

The Moncton Wildcats, for example, contributed $1 million to the centre, which will be the hockey team's new home. Other donors include Armour Transportation Systems, CIBC, and Dexter Construction.

"It's a very competitive world out there and if you want your city to move forward and you want to be able to do those extra special things in your community, it's necessary to really engage corporations and businesses to step up and be a part of it — and there seems to be great interest in doing it," said Arnold.

It's something that is very significant and visionary of where our city is going and what we can do and we should be really proud of that and I think a lot of people are going to want to be a part of it.- Dawn Arnold, mayor

The centre will be a "game-changer," she said, not only for downtown, but for the city as a whole.

Everyone she has taken through the building has been "gobsmacked," she said.

"It's hard to believe that you're in Moncton when you're in it. You just go, 'Wow, this is incredible.' It's world-class and you know what, it will be the best centre in the world the day it opens.

"Two weeks later, someone may open a nicer one but … we have the very best of what has been learned around the world in this building."

Name expected 'very soon'

The plaza will feature a bandstand, skating rink/oval, park space, and a gazebo. The city will use $4.3 million from the centre's contingency fund to pay for the plaza. (Submitted)

The name of the 8,800-seat centre is still up for grabs, at a "multimillion dollar" price being negotiated by the operator and manager SMG Canada.

"I predict we'll hear very soon," said Arnold.

The green space located at the back of the plaza will be named the Rotary Park, in recognition of the Moncton Rotary Club and the Moncton West and Riverview Rotary Club's joint $200,000 donation.

The mayor expects it will serve as a community gathering space for families, for fans before events, and for people who are unable to attend ticketed events but can still feel part of the community.

"This is, for all intents and purposes, our Boston Common, or our Nathan Phillips Square," she said, referring to the urban plaza at Toronto City Hall.

Community-based campaign planned

Moncton is also planning a community-based fundraising campaign in the coming months. The details, such as the fundraising goal, what level of donation people need to make to get their name on something and what that something will be, are still being finalized, said Arnold.

That campaign won't be launched until people can get into the centre and see it for themselves, the mayor said.

Although citizens are already contributing to the centre as taxpayers, Arnold doesn't expect it to be a tough sell.

"I think that Monctonians are really proud of this and this is something that is very aspirational, it's something that is very significant and visionary of where our city is going and what we can do.

"And we should be really proud of that and I think a lot of people are going to want to be a part of it."

Earlier this year, Jon and Leslie Manship donated $1.1 million in memory of former city employee Ian Fowler and the oval has been named in his honour.

Asked what will happen if the city doesn't reach its fundraising goals, Arnold replied simply, "Oh, we will."

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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