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Following last weekends "Open Streets" event, the city has indicated it wants to expand the program. Is this a good idea?

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2012-10-11 at 16:48

LU Thunderwolves hope to be main tenants if city moves ahead with multiplex

By Leith Dunick,
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THUNDER BAY -- Tom Warden maintains the Lakehead Thunderwolves still want to be the main tenant should the city go ahead with a proposed $106-million multiplex.

According to a study released Wednesday by consultants hired by the city, having an American Hockey League or Ontario Hockey League team as the arena’s anchor tenant would result in an operating loss of $307,900 a year.

The Thunderwolves hockey team, buoyed by basketball and other events, would cost the taxpayers $513,800 a year in operating losses.

Study authors CEI Architecture said both situations would cost taxpayers less than the $600,000 in losses incurred by Fort William Gardens, the current home of Lakehead hockey.

The multiplex would lose $1.19 million a year with the AHL/OHL model, while it has a projected shortfall of $1.4 million with the Thunderwolves in the lead spot.

Warden, who hadn’t fully studied the report, praised the multiplex proposal as a positive step forward for the community.

“We’ll just have to see how this plays out,” Warden said. “But I think it’s a very positive thing that the city is moving forward with this feasibility study and certainly with the arena and the convention centre.”

He added all three locations that were shortlisted – the downtown north core site that is being recommended to council, lands near the Thunder Bay International airport and the runner-up, Innova Park – had their merits.

He has no qualms about the downtown location.

“If it were to go downtown it would provide a lot of positive economic development opportunities for that area. So that of all of them looked like one of the better ones to me,” Warden said.
“But with that said, I think there were a lot of positives for a lot of the other locations as well.”

The report does suggest the design of the 5,700-seat building, if approved by council, will be slightly different depending on who the lead tenant at construction time.

An AHL or OHL team would include 24 private suites, while a Lakehead Thunderwolves team would require 12 private suites. Both scenarios would include up to 700 club seats.
Warden says the university has been involved in the multiplex process from the beginning.

He also said it’s premature to say whether or not the Thunderwolves team, a privately-owned, non-profit organization, could survive if the AHL or OHL came to town.
Anthony LeBlanc and Keith McCullough of Ice Edge Holdings Inc. have repeatedly said if the city builds a new hockey arena they are prepared to bring professional hockey back to Thunder Bay.

“I think it’s a bit early to get into that,” Warden said. “We don’t know. I think we’ll have to have a look at what the challenges are, what the opportunities are, before we can make a statement like that.”

Thunderwolves board president Rory Cava also weighed in, stating he thinks the Thunderwolves are doable as the main tenant.

“I think we’ve worked hard to try to provide them with the nights they need, not just with Thunderwolves hockey, but with Lakehead University as a whole,” he said, adding he’s in favour of the waterfront location.

“I think we’ve done our part and I think we’re ready to be a main tenant with Lakehead University backing us up.”


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jimmyboy says:
What part of annual loss do these people NOT get.????

Lets see the Thunderwolves...which is a private for profit organization pony up the projected $$$ well Anthony LeBlanc and Keith McCullough of Ice Edge Holdings Inc...these guys want to be high rollers on my dime...Thanks but no Thanks boys.!!!

10/11/2012 5:04:28 PM
truthseeker says:
totally agree jimmyboy, the toronto and calgary sportswriters called leblanc and mccollough a couple clowns and jokes, wet behind the ears, when it comes to buying the phoenix coyotes.

Here in thunder bay, the pathetic media and municipal leadership is bending over backwards to accomodate these so called 2 investors.

I'll pose this question to this bias news outlet and the jock sniffers(reporters) that put out there bias garbage in the source and on tbnewswatch:

If thunder bay was such a great profitable city to bring an ahl or echl club to town, why hasn't there been more private investors from out of town dialing up commisso or hobbs or knocking on their doors ?

You know why and everybody who knows sports knows why! Thunder Bays location is out of the way and a poor market to set up a minor pro team.

I'm looking forward to a response from this bias news outlet why this time around they think the hockey team will be a success and will be raking in huge amounts of cash
10/12/2012 9:36:53 AM
Leith Dunick says:
Do you have access to their bank accounts or stock portfolios? We're not advocating one side or the other. That's up to the city to decide. Do I think an AHL team could survive here? It's possible, though attracting 4,500 fans a night is a stretch. I don't think location is a huge issue, the AHL is spread out across North America. Player salaries are covered (mostly) by NHL parent organizations.

I don't think anyone's bending over backwards for Mr. McCullough or Mr. LeBlanc. The multiplex isn't being built for them. There are no guarantees they'll bring a team to town. The multiplex is being built for the city. If they can make a business case to provide the main tenant, so be it. If it's LU or some other organization, that's fine too.

I doubt very much you have any idea what it takes to run an AHL franchise or the costs involved. Nor do I. McCullough and LeBlanc are from Thunder Bay, and say they want to do something for their community. It's easy to be negative in anonymity.
10/12/2012 10:29:39 AM
truthseeker says:
leith, you call it negativity, i call it the truth!
dunnick says:
' i don't think location is a huge issue, the AHL is spread out across North America. Player salaries are covered (mostly) by NHL parent organizations.'

If thats the case leith why has there been such a high relocation rate amongst ahl and echl teams . a gentlemen at one of the public meetings presented a whole laundry list of teams that have relocated in a short period of time but according to you the nhl pays a good chunk of the salaries.
Location is a huge issue most of the ahl or echl clubs are located on the east or west coast.

One thing about toronto sportswriters is they do investigative reporting ,not afraid to dig up dirt, not afraid to step on toes, not afraid to rub athletes, politicians, whomever the wrong way. the media in this town ,not just dougall, i'm including your competitors would suppress the truth then step on toes.
10/12/2012 10:53:12 AM
truthseeker says:
continued leith- i don't think they have an idea how to run an ahl team with their brilliant idea if they bought the phoenix coyotes they would move their ahl affiliate in san antonio which averages 5200 to 7200 fans a game to thunder bay and be lucky to average 2000 people a game here if we had a multiplex. Thats's a smart business move by leblanc isn't it leith from getting 7200 a game to 2000 here in thunder bay, but keep on believing these guys know how to run an ahl franchise.

Sports business is a whole different animal leith, the last time i checked these 2 guys have none and even the smartest and the richest of businessmen have lost their shirt owning and running a sports franchise.
10/12/2012 11:05:36 AM
Leith Dunick says:
So, according to you no one should try to do anything. We should move back into caves and cook our food over the fire. If they want to gamble on an AHL team, and have the money to do it, who are you to argue? The league will do it's due diligence before allowing them to move a team here. And why do you care so much? It's not your money, it's theirs. The multiplex isn't being built for them, if it in fact gets built at all. It's being built for the entire city. But it needs a tenant. At least they're providing options and possibilities. What are you bringing to the table? We're not advocating for any league or any sport to fill the tenant void.
10/12/2012 12:43:38 PM
truthseeker says:
Leith, i'm a homeowner ,taxpayer. whose tax money is going to be used on a big money loser of a facility. i'm a season ticket holder for hockey and baseball who is against a multiplex being built at all in thunder bay.

If this is such a cash cow of a market thunder bay, show your unbias, put leblanc on the 6 o clock news tonight and ask him if they were willing to spend 170 million on a money loser like the phoenix coyotes then why doesn't he invest the 100 million to build the multiplex instead seeing that it didn't quite work out with the coyotes.
10/12/2012 1:08:24 PM
tbayguy009 says:
"who are you to argue?"

Every taxpayer, everwhere. That is who.

In no way, shape or form should government funds be used to promote business proposals by redirecting government revenues. Corporations are socking away money at a historical rates. And they still want lower taxes.

These ideas have NOT been helping to reduct budget deficits for decades now. Real business people should not need the public to create a job for them. Wise investors won't spend a dime into a venture like this. With fail written all over it. So, some brainiacs want access to the public's money. BTW leveraging is code for borrowing MORE money. Using the taxpayer as creditor. After which the taxpayers are expected to subsidize the anual losses incurred by the venture.

The hospitol was orginally projected at $140.27 million.

Final cost. $283.9 million.

This is for sports fans. Not for sick people.

Talk about want and need. This is for the spoiled.

TBRH Construction costs approx 58% higher than bugeted.
10/14/2012 8:52:47 AM
tbayguy009 says:
"they want to do something for their community."

By burning up taxpayer dollars? Seriously now.

Meanwhile residents are being asked to do something for their community - donate to charities.
10/14/2012 8:27:36 AM
CM Punk says:
Okay, this pipe dream needs to be deflated and in a hurry.
First of all, where do they get this $106 million dollar price tag from? A reader posted on a previous article the cost for other complex buildings similar in size at half the price. Is council really this stupid?
Are we as hard working taxpayers gonna take this?
Luxury suites? Who is gonna buy them and attend these game?
Why doesn't the mayor do the right thing, take $4 million from the reserve to top up the DRF funding and get the $15 million from the province so those who need a new furnace and other necessary items a warm winter.
Act like a man mayor and have some grapefruits.

Gather around and let your voice be heard people of Thunder Bay. We cannot be lay citizens and allow this table of monkeys to run this great city to the ground.

Next thing you know we will hear from LeBlanc and his AHL idea. We had hockey here, the Twins, the Flyers, Allen Cups, etc. They are a memory now.

The best in the world.
10/11/2012 6:08:33 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
The Construction Company Nabobs will get the Deluxe Suites. They plan to pay for them with YOUR MONEY, out of their artificial, created cost over-runs. Then, they will deduct the cost of the Suite off their corporate income taxes for PR entertainment. A LOSE-LOSE for the little serfs, a WIN-WIN for local Big Business.
10/15/2012 9:17:08 AM
Chaos says:
So the main tenant of a gov't subsidized multi-plex will be gov't subsidized university? Got love the business plan.

On another note can we hold CEI Architecture accountable for if and when these loses turn out to be higher than advertised?
10/11/2012 7:40:48 PM
tbayboy says:
I think the location is perfect as long as there is LOTS of parking. If anybody has been to Winnipeg or St Paul know that you can't go wrong with building it downtown. With hotels and restaurants in walking distance for before and after events. Great for out of town people or people that want to go for a drink or a late night snack after an event. The only thing I don't agree with is that if are spending that amount of money to build it why not build it bigger. Think of the future not just the now like the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium great place but should have been double the size. I think we should build the new event center to hold at least 7500 people.
10/11/2012 7:44:25 PM
nads74 says:
there WON'T be lots of parking..what don't you people get about that?????? It's the stupidest location that could possible go through, what to make the downtown PA area "the place to be" give me a break!!!

It's just another stupid decision but ignorant people.

And for LU to think it's hockey team should be the one that calls it home is yet again ANOTHER stupid small town thinking idea. They will NOT bring in the money like an OHL team....Come on Thunder Bay can we get open our eyes please and see a bigger picture!!!!!!!

10/12/2012 8:29:30 AM
commonsense says:
Conrad Boychuck was also involved with the Abotsford Arena, according to his website.
People may want to research that facility by googling Abbotsford Heat subsidy.
This quote is directly from a CBC 2010 story-
"Abbotsford taxpayers angry over hockey subsidy"
"Abbotsford city council has approved a deal with the Abbotsford Heat hockey team that will guarantee the club as much as $5.7 million in annual expenses." This as a result of a Council desperate for an anchor tenant, and told the hockey club's revenues would be higher. Didn't work out that way.......... and now taxpayers subsidize the team to the detriment of other city services.
A lesson for taxpayers of Thunder Bay.
We can't afford this, haven't' determined yet IF the Gardens NEEDS replacing. Only know that some people "want it". That's the problem toay - people wanting things they can't afford, and our City Admin. is right up there.
10/11/2012 10:07:53 PM
collie says:
LMFAO duh!!
IF the LU thunder wolves wants a HOCKEY Arena than the LU should pay to build it on the LU LAND!!! and Maybe the city can throw some money in to help maybe 15 to 20% of the bill.
DONT want a Hockey ARENA I want a GREAT Convention Centre!! SOMETHING this city doesnt have and NEEDS!!
10/11/2012 10:19:08 PM
panzerIV says:
Wonder if a AHL/OHL team and the Thunderwolves could work together at the arena. There are a couple cities that do this and while the University teams gets smaller numbers its still usually a good crowd to make it an exciting game.

The arena was originally supposed to be 8,000 for concert seating but now is down to 6,800. To me that puts us in a smaller category for events and pushes away the bigger events which many have been trying to get.
10/12/2012 8:02:15 AM
kurt says:
first thing LU needs to do - is start filling up the gardens ... cause if you cant start filling that place - then you dont deserve to be the main tenants of the new multiplex
10/12/2012 8:16:13 AM
vimeo says:
Ok guys, let's face it. You're became the top dogs after the Flyers and Senators packed it in. Prior to that you had a few students watching at the Tournament Centre like the rest of the universities. Yes, it is cool that Lakehead commands one the highest attendance numbers in the country, but that's only becuase this city doesn't have a pro team (ok, well Toronto doesn't have one either but I digress).

It's pretty bold to say The Wolves should be the main tennant when they would create the highest deficit.
10/12/2012 8:52:49 AM
Tannoy says:
I hope LU knows that we'll be bringing a real hockey franchise to town with the new arena, their days as the only real show in town are coming to an end!
10/12/2012 9:14:11 AM
yellowsnow says:
The multiplex is a great idea and I love the chosen location, even if I am from the South Core. I've been to NHL games, and the majority of the people take a cab or other form of transportation to the game. Think about it, you can go watch a hockey game, or other event, have a drink and not have to drive home! If they put up parking lots, people will complain about having to pay for parking.

Oh wait, I forgot. the majority of the people that come here only do so to complain...
10/12/2012 10:06:35 AM
dwb says:
Leith Dunnick you protest too much. The media in Tbay has sucked up to Ice Edge ever since they said they would bring an AHL team to Thunder Bay only if it didn't cost them anything and the city would hire them to manage the comples. Go back and check your facts. The truthseeker doth speak the truth.
10/12/2012 11:05:02 AM
Jon Powers says:

"The arena was originally supposed to be 8,000 for concert seating but now is down to 6,800."

Your information is out of date.

The current City Of Thunder Bay proposel is 5,700 seats max. No more no less. They the consultants did this seat reduction to make the Convention Centre bigger.

Leith Dunick:

"truthseeker" Is venting their anger at this entire process. As a "Hardened and Seasoned News Reporter" you should know a number of the informantion he has stated.

I like soft news but I want to see more "Investigative Reporting" done by you and your "Parrent-Sister Companies".

Your job isn't just to support your government; but to put their feet into the fire too.

Does your "Government" trust you? If no then don't trust them!

See You Monday Night.

Great Story!

10/12/2012 1:55:55 PM
jimmyboy says:
Leith....if Mr. McCullough or Mr. LeBlanc want to seriously want to bring professional hockey back to Thunder Bay....fine and dandy with me....however they should have more at stake....who say's their professional team will survive here....what happens if they fold after a few years....then what.????

If they pony up some serious cash....if they whole heartily believe in their dream....and want to see it through....then show the city some of their green....and then lets talk turkey.!!!!

There are way too many variables in this type of deal....therefore one very good reason for them not to want to partner up i this is much less expensive for them to simply walk away if they have turn leaving the taxpayers once again holding the bag....Build It and They Will Come was a great movie....however I do not believe it would be a really big hit here in Thunder Bay....with either the proposed American Hockey League or the Ontario Hockey League team.
10/12/2012 5:19:11 PM
collie says:
I am not a Hockey Fan And I know I am NOT ALONE in this city. FOOTBALL BASEBALL SOCCER pretty much anything else YES EXCEPT tennis hockey and golf!! yeah yeah coming to the point Tbay has had numerous hockey teams WHERE are they now??? Thinking bringing another team here will last um NOPE not gonna work IF there was a demand for it WE WOULD STILL have one of the teams that have ran away!!! WE need a Convention Center SOMETHING we dont have WITH the ability to have GREAT CONCERTS (big name large capacity)and host all SPORTS ie basketball curling yeah even hockey but I would rather see ICE capades or FIGURE Skating over Hockey. IF this building is dedicated to HOCKEY than it WILL fail and be another MONEY PIT. IF all you hockey fans want to prove me wrong go and put 5 years worth of MONEY for season tickets into a slush fund to BUILD THIS PLACE! Then you can see how many seats need and leave the taxpayers out of it!!!
10/12/2012 11:01:23 PM
collie says:
UM Sat. Oct. 13/2012 Poll
What hockey tenant in multiplex!

Why is there not a choice of NONE of the Above?
Why Hockey Period?
Why Not Curling??
Why Not focus on OTHER Events IE Conventions Trade SHOWS ect.....
Finally shows only 211 people voted at all and divided up between 3 choices. SO out of a Population of over 100 000! We are going to build a hockey arena for 211?? Well I guess parking wont be a problem then!
10/13/2012 4:00:53 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Because the spectator portion of the facility, if it`s built, will be centred around hockey. There are no other real options, other than perhaps a National Basketball League team. Curling could be a complement, a once-a-year series of rotating national-type events that fill some dates. The city already has two curling rinks that struggle enough as it is. Conventions and trade shows will be a major focus of the centre and will complement whatever brand of hockey that is the focal point of the spectator portion of the complex. I won`t even bother commenting on the rest of your argument, other than to say the poll is a sampling of people in the community (who choose to come here voluntarily and answer it). I`m sure there`s one or two more out there with an interest in seeing a multiplex built or not built.
10/14/2012 11:29:11 AM
collie says:
HA a Multiplex does NOT require a Hockey team and if plan and build accordingly could focus on EVENTS only. Enough events occur year round that would make use of an EVENT centre. Disney shows, Kids shows, Circus, Blues Festival, Boat show, Trade Show, Conventions, Concerts, Car shows, Outdoor trade show, Sci-Fi convention, sheesh make it an IMAX and then would be busy all the time too! LOTs of ideas OTHER than hockey. POINT being CANT convince it HAS to be hockey oriented that just limits other uses!!!!
10/14/2012 5:07:59 PM
canadaboy2000 says:
Here's the problem with this idea.

The Thunderwolves play from approx 20 home games a year. Half as much as an AHL team would play, and they would almost certainly draw much fewer fans. Fewer fans mean less ticket revenue, less concession sales, etc.
Half as many games, means half as much overall revenue for all of these things combined.

If we ever plan on something in this city making money, we have to think about the financial aspects of decisions we make.
10/14/2012 1:00:24 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
The local construction companies want your money, and they are getting the city to take it from your pocket. One step above out-and-out thievery. And this, and more, with an ex-cop for Mayor. Any word on what caused the sewage back-up and the city finally being honest (for once) and start taking credit for it? Or are you simply hoping we'll all forget? Or just go away?
10/14/2012 1:45:44 PM
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