Councillors to consider $33M in upgrades to Budweiser Gardens

London city councillors will consider a plan on Tuesday to approve $33 million in upgrades to Budweiser Gardens.

Deputy Mayor Lewis says he supports renovations to keep venue competitive

A report coming to London city council lays out a plan to spend $33 million in upgrades to Budweiser Gardens with the work coming in two phases and the city's share being about $27 million.
The cancellation of the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season means quiet on the ice at Budweiser Gardens. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

London city councillors will consider a plan on Tuesday to approve $33 million in upgrades to Budweiser Gardens.

A report coming to the corporate services committee says the upgrades, if approved, would come in two phases. The first would focus on "customer centric" enhancements to the Bud, the second would cover "back of house" upgrades. 

The first phase would come with a $15.1 million price tag, the report says, with the city's share coming in at about $9 million on an 20/80 split with the arena operator. The city's contribution in Phase 2 would be $17.7 million. 

Built in 2002, the multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue operates under a complex public-private partnership with OVG360, formerly known as Global Spectrum Partnership, which operates the facility. The 50-year deal provides the city with a share of operating revenue that has increased each year of the lease agreement and is now at 70 per cent. 

In addition to being home of the London Knights, Budweiser Gardens has also hosted top musical acts such as Sting, Imagine Dragons and Bryan Adams.

The Bud was also home to the Tim Hortons Brier in March.

The report says the upgrades are needed to continue to attract world-class events and big-name talent 

The proposed upgrades in Phase 1 would include 

  • Expansion of the level 100 club lounge. 
  • Renovation of the London Knights locker room. 
  • Private suites on the 200 level. 
  • New lounges in the 200 level. 
  • Technology upgrades. 
  • Upgrades to the food and beverage concessions. 

Phase 2 upgrades would include:

  • Level 100 office renovations. 
  • Level 200 backstage club/ kitchen. 
  • Level 300 feature bar at the north concourse. 

The report recommends money for Phase I of the upgrades come from the city's Tourism Infrastructure Reserve Fund. The fund uses a four per cent tax on hotel room stays with 50 per cent of the money going to capital upgrades related to tourism and the rest going to Tourism London. 

The report says the city's share of the accommodation tax revenue have returned to pre-COVID levels. 

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis said, while he has some questions about the finer points of the upgrade plan, he supports the idea of adding enhancements to Bud Gardens, saying the venue provides a huge benefit to London's downtown. 

"I think this is a wise investment for the city and it protects our investment in the long-term," said Lewis, who chairs the committee that will consider the report. "This is not just an investment in Bud Gardens this is an investment in the health of our downtown."

The report outlining the proposed upgrades is on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting of the corporate services committee. 


Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.