Does Charlottetown need to replace the Eastlink Centre? The city is spending $75,000 on a new task force to look into the question.
The group will look at what needs aren't being met by the current Eastlink Centre, which is home to the Charlottetown Islanders hockey organization, the Island Storm pro basketball team and Red Shores Charlottetown Racetrack and Casino.
'They have agreed to hold the property until the city determines if it's something that is required for a new multi-use facility.' — Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee
"'There's been talk around town for quite a number of years about a possible replacement of the Eastlink Centre," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee.
"It's been a question out there in the community for a lot of years, there's a lot of people out there who will tell you the current facility just doesn't work. I don't disagree, maybe it doesn't work for concerts."
The city needs a venue that can hold concerts, large trade shows, and possibly a provincial museum, Lee said.
The task force will talk with potential funding partners including the province.
Lee points out the Charlottetown Curling Club has been talking about a new home, and it might be more efficient to join forces. The Red Shores Racetrack and Atlantic Lottery, which is in the current Eastlink Centre, needs to be consulted as well.
The site of the former government garage near the Hillsborough Bridge is one key parcel of land Lee said the city is looking at closely.
"We've had brief discussions with the province and they have agreed to hold the property until the city determines if it's something that is required for a new multi-use facility in the area," Lee revealed Friday.
The task force will talk with architects and financial consultants to figure out how much a new facility would cost, and where it should be located.
"What we need is a reasonable estimate of what the capital cost is, and then we also need a business plan," he said.
"Is it going to require millions of dollars a year to subsidize? Is it going to be a facility that can break even? Those are the types of questions you need to answer before you even put a shovel in the ground."
The city is looking at getting out of subsidizing rinks because it's racking up $2 million a year maintaining ice surfaces.
"We need to find a way to get that under control because I don't think the taxpayer can continue to sustain that type of an expense," Lee said.
The city has some candidates in mind for the task force but officials haven't spoken with them yet. They will not be interested parties, but "general people in the community," Lee said.