Saint John recreation plan calls for multi-plex arena

City council in Saint John has adopted a new master plan for recreation that recommends an arena complex with four ice surfaces be built in the city.

Mayor Mel Norton says project would have to make economic sense

City council in Saint John  has adopted a new master plan for recreation that recommends an arena complex with four ice surfaces be built in the city.

The recommendation comes despite assurances that the city's current arenas are in reasonably good shape and the city isn't facing any sort of crisis related to ice surfaces.

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton has been a booster of the multi-plex concept for Saint John. (CBC)
However, Mayor Mel Norton said other Maritime cities are building multi-pad arena complexes and they appear to be big hits and draw visitors to those communities to attend events.

"There's a whole opportunity to bring in big tournaments, to fill up our hotels, to fill up our restaurants," said Norton.

"There's a lot of operational efficiencies."

Deputy commissioner Mike Hugenholtz says a single facility with multiple ice surfaces would require fewer staff, and fewer ice resurfacing machines, while attracting tenants such as a restaurant or physiotherapy clinic.

Hegenholtz says the idea has the support of the minor hockey community.

The recreation master plan says there would have to be a solid business case for a multi-plex and suggests a partnership with the private sector could be pursued.

Saint John currently has four arenas dating back to the 1960s, not including the Lord Beaverbrook Rink and Harbour Station. The report says those areas can last another 10 to 15 years if properly maintained.

Given the current state of the city's arenas, Norton concedes the decision on going ahead with a multi-plex in Saint John will likely be left to a future council.  He says such a facility can't be built if it drains funds away from priorities like road maintenance...

"Probably the single largest decision factor are the economics: Does it make economic sense to do a four-plex?"


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