Sudbury arena plans up for debate by council on Monday

CBC News has learned that the city of Greater Sudbury is planning to hire a consultant to draw up plans for a new 6,000-seat arena. A staff report laying out the next steps will be discussed by city councillors on Monday.
A staff report obtained by CBC News generally sums up the dozen or so 'expressions of interest' the city received from architects and construction companies. City staff suggest that a consultant be hired to go through those proposals and come up with a plan, before the arena project goes out to tender. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

A city staff  report obtained by CBC News shows the next round of the debate over the Sudbury Arena is set for Monday.

City councillors will discuss hiring a consultant to go through proposals for a new 6,000-seat OHL rink.

City staff suggest that a consultant be hired to go through those proposals and come up with a plan, before the arena project goes out to tender.

That's likely to put off some Sudbury city councillors who are increasingly cool on the number of consultants the city is hiring.

Certain councillors have also argued that city staff are experts in the arena business and should be able to make decisions — and run the new rink — themselves.

How private the new arena might be is the big question.

The city put out a call late last year for anyone interested in replacing the 63-year-old Sudbury Arena to step forward.

A dozen companies did, with pitches ranging between $35 and $85 million.

Some propose two sheets of ice, others an attached convention centre and some bids also include parking garages.

Most are looking at downtown Sudbury, but others are not.

Some of the bids would see the new arena run by a private company, with the city providing land and guaranteeing a regular flow of tax dollars to rent ice time.

The staff report city councillors will discuss Monday calls for a consultant to be hired to sort out these ideas and come up with a detailed plan.

That's expected to delay any decision on actually moving ahead to building a new arena until the summer.

Some city councillors fear that means it will be shelved until after the election in October.

And a few around the council table still believe a replacement for the Sudbury Arena can be built without spending a single tax dollar.

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