Sudbury city councillors say for now, the city won’t be going any further with a staff report suggesting three arenas in the outlying areas be closed. But, councillors say the city has to find ways to get more skates onto underused ice.
A few years ago, Sudbury city council cut the rates for Capreol and Levack arenas, hoping more groups would make the drive for cheaper ice time. The move hasn't really worked.
At their Monday night meeting, some councillors suggested targeting the teams that drive even further — outside of Greater Sudbury — for even cheaper ice time.
City Councillor Terry Kett put it this way: "You can't go to Verner. You can't go to Espanola. If we're subsidizing you to play hockey, then you have to use our rinks."
In the end, councillors called for a citizens committee to look for solutions.
The staff report suggested three rinks be closed and replaced with a new two-pad complex in Chelmsford.
But councillors feared the impact on the outlying towns — in this case, Azilda and Levack—where the local rink is often the centre of the community.
"I think it's critical that we meet with all our arena users and ask them for how to generate some additional revenue," Councillor Ron Dupuis said.
"And we'd be surprised as to what could happen"
The report also mused about a $66 million puck palace to replace the aging Sudbury Arena.
City councillor Jacques Barbeau said the choice may come down to recreational rink or main event arena.
"We have some tough decisions to make," he said.
"And at some point, in the next little while, we're going to have to decide what's the next arena we're going to build."
Greater Sudbury's 14 arenas are expected to need $24 million in repairs in the next decade.