Saint John Mayor Mel Norton’s proposal to build a multi-million dollar four-plex arena complex in the city's uptown is drawing mixed reaction from citizens.
The mayor has pitched the idea of a four-plex located at Long Wharf. The addition of the four new ice surfaces would mean finding ice time in the city would become a lot easier.
David Nicholson, the manager of the Lord Beaverbrook Rink, said that extra ice time comes with a hefty price tag.
"You're probably talking between $25 to $30 million, at least," he said.
The idea is drawing mixed reaction from residents, who would be using the waterfront arena complex.
People, like Ed Amero, are excited about the prospect of having more opportunities for children, such as his 11-year-old son, to get time on the ice.
"Ice time is hard to get for the kids. Four new rinks would be awesome for them," he said.
But the city’s financial situation is causing many people to view the proposal skeptically.
"Saint John can't afford anything. But talking about it makes it worse," said Don Pierce, a Saint John resident.
Saint John Coun. Shirley McAlary said the city has other financial hurdles to tackle before looking at additional projects.
"Certainly the city doesn't have that kind of money in the budget at this time," she said.
In September, a group of Saint John businesspeople said they were exploring the possibility of building another ice surface or expanding an existing facility in the city.
Saint John has four civic arenas. As well, the city has the Lord Beaverbrook Rink, which was built by Lord Beaverbrook and donated to Saint John in 1960. Saint John is responsible for paying for the facility's operating costs.
Moncton arena breaking even
The concept of building a four-plex is not new in New Brunswick. A decade ago, Moncton built its own four-plex for $15 million.
Rod Higgins, the general manager of parks and leisure for the City of Moncton, said the facility has created roughly $3 million a year in economic spinoffs.
He said it has also increased participation in sports, such as hockey, ringette and figure skating.
While it has increased youth sporting rates, it has not been a drain on public finances.
Higgs said the facility has made a profit for five years and lost "a little" in five years.
"Overall it is breaking even," he said.
"It is one of the reasons why Montcon is a sports and entertainment hub."
When the city built the four-plex, it closed three community arenas.
"At that time, we made the decision to get out of those arenas and build the four plex arena for cost savings and for efficiencies," Higgins said.
In the end Higgins said, community groups worked together to open a single sheet arena in the Lewisville area.