The provincial government will contribute up to $23.85 million toward construction of a new Moncton downtown entertainment centre, which will include a concert venue, meeting space and an NHL-size rink.

Economic Development Minister Bruce Fitch made the announcement on Wednesday at the former Highfield Square location, where the new complex will be built.

Funding announced for downtown entertainment centre for Moncton

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc, Economic Development Minister Bruce Fitch and Moncton West MLA Sue Stulz participated in Wednesday's announcement. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

‚Äč"This new centre will mean Moncton is able to continue to attract big-ticket entertainers year-round," said Fitch.

"It will allow the city to build on its reputation as the entertainment capital of the Maritimes, and stimulate growth and revitalization in the downtown," he said.

Mayor George LeBlanc says the city is still hoping to secure $24 million from the federal government for the project, which is expected to cost about $100 million.

The city is still working on finalizing the $12.5-million agreement to purchase the Highfield Square property as the site for the new development, said LeBlanc.

He expects that will be completed soon and the old mall will be demolished this fall.

Council will issue the request for proposals to build the new centre by the end of the year and award the contract by the end of 2015, said LeBlanc.

Construction is expected to begin by early 2016, resulting in more than 700 jobs, he said.

The development will also include outdoor public spaces to host a variety of entertainment, cultural and community events, officials said.

About 50 jobs are expected to be created once the facility is fully operational.