Council debates Sudbury amphitheatre upgrades

The purpose of the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre became a central question Tuesday night as Sudbury city councillors debated spending millions more on upgrading the three-year-old concert venue.

Proposed enhancements would cost $6M

Bookings are on the rise for the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre, located in Sudbury's downtown. (City of Greater Sudbury)

The purpose of the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre became a central question Tuesday night as Sudbury city councillors debated spending millions more on upgrading the three-year-old concert venue.

The upgrades, proposed by consultants hired by the city, include a roof and more hard seats — things concert promoters have been asking for.

"It's somewhat perplexing that three years later there's all these enhancements," said Coun. Joe Cimino.

The amphitheatre, located in Bell Park and named after Sudbury’s first female mayor, was built in 2011 at a cost of $5 million. The proposed upgrades would cost nearly $6 million.

Although the venue was busier than usual this summer — hosting commercial shows rather than community events — the city was still left with a loss of $160,000.

City manager Catherine Matheson says part of the problem is that Sudbury never specifically laid out what it had hoped to get out of the amphitheatre.

"Are they promoted events? Are they community events?” Matheson said. “So there's been a lot of confusion around the entire site and the mandate."

Councillors asked staff to do more research on the amphitheatre before making any decisions.

Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann says she is looking forward to hearing some fundraising ideas.

"[It] could include — get ready for it — renaming,” she said. “I know, I can just imagine... but these are the facts. We do not have enough money to go around."

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