The City of Moncton has unveiled four possible plans for a downtown entertainment and sports complex, but it still doesn’t have any funding in place for the multi-million dollar project.
More than 150 people packed into city council chambers on Thursday to see the plans, prepared by four architects.
All of the renderings feature a 10,000-seat arena and a convention centre, as well as a shopping centre, restaurants, condos and an outdoor space.
Moncton resident Jack Jayner liked what he saw.
"It has just about everything that you could ask for that isn't very strong in the area right now. It's really a place to go," he said.
Mayor George LeBlanc, who has been waiting four years for a project that will revitalize the downtown, was also impressed.
"I do feel a little overwhelmed here today," he said.
"I was hoping for good things, but the presentations were spectacular, the work was amazing."
Could break ground next year
LeBlanc said he’s hopeful the city will be able to break ground on the project next year, despite not having a funding plan in place.
"We still have to put together the appropriate business plan, it still will require approval of council, and I still hope that we will have appropriate support from both the federal and provincial levels of government," he said.
Last December, P3 Canada, a federal Crown corporation, rejected Moncton’s funding request of $25 million toward the centre.
Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Conservative MP Robert Goguen, who attending Thursday’s meeting, said while he supports the project, he can't make any financial promises.
"You know priorities politically do shift I mean, so there's no absolute ‘yes,’ there's no absolute ‘no,’" he said. "As in most things in politics, it's rather grey."
The city has less than one year to come up with the money.
In March, the mayor announced the city had finalized an agreement that gives it the option to buy a $6 million parcel of land in the Highfield Square area prior to March 2, 2013.
Still, LeBlanc is determined.
"With the closure of Highfield Square and the Bay leaving, I believe that our downtown needs this," he said. "And this will be an investment in our future."
Downtown Moncton Inc. has already committed $2.5 million toward the project, president Louis Leger has said.
The business group supports the plan because it could become an important economic generator, he has said.
For architect Raven Spanier, the ambitious project would be a dream job.
"This is the pinnacle," he said.
"There's been a few projects in town, but nothing would reach at this time and place, that would reach that kind of level of excitement and importance."