Need Xtra Cash? Visit Xtra Cash!For payday advances and cheque cashing, there's no better option than XTRA CASH! Best rates, no holds, and instant Cash!Click here for full list of services
City officials say they’ve received multiple expressions of interest from hockey teams looking to relocate to a proposed event centre.
Consultant Ron Bidulka, a managing partner with Toronto-based PricewaterhouseCoopers, said upon first glance, based on his past experience, all are viable candidates as lead-tenant material for the $106.1-million, 5,600-seat facility.
“We got a number,” Bidulka said on Thursday.
“There are submissions that cover a gambit of expressions of interest for business opportunities in the building, whether it be hockey, whether it be operating the facility or taking space in the building for restaurants and other stuff like that.”
Among the bidders are former NHLer Ryan Johnson and Thunder Bay entrepreneur and investor Keith McCullough, who have submitted a bid under the latter's Canadian company, McCullough Capital Management.
"We think we have the best bid," McCullough said, reached via email.
McCullough confirmed he wants to bring an American Hockey League franchise to the city, adding he's working with the world's largest publicly traded entertainment, hotel and leisure and restaurant companies on the operations side.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.
While not at liberty to say which other hockey groups have indicated a desire to call the facility home – the building has yet to win approval from city council – Bidulka said hockey fans would be pleased with both the quantity and quality of the applicants.
“We have interest from existing franchises, playing in leagues, that want to come into Thunder Bay,” he said.
“They are leagues that people would recognize, they are teams that people would recognize.”
Lakehead University, whose hockey team routinely draws more than 2,000 fans to Fort William Gardens, is widely believed to be one of the applicants.
Asked specifically if Lakehead had applied, city manager Tim Commisso didn’t want to tip his hat.
“We’re pleased with how they’ve approached this,” was all he would say.
New NHL owner and Thunder Bay native Anthony LeBlanc confirmed his group did not submit before the Aug. 30 deadline.
LeBlanc has repeatedly said he wants to bring professional hockey back to his hometown.
“(There’s) just too much going on being new NHL owners and getting ready for the season,” said LeBlanc, reached via email, who on Thursday was officially named president and CEO of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Facilities, fleet and transit manager Mike Smith said the city expects to hear one way or another from FedNor by the end of October whether its application to fund Phase 3 of the proposed development has been successful.
The $1-million ask would essentially help take the project to shovel-ready status, a key factor when both the federal and provincial governments make decisions whether or not to dole out infrastructure money to cover significant chunks of the building cost.
Smith said the original request was $465,000, but after speaking with FedNor officials, it was decided it made more sense to take it to shovel-ready status in one fell swoop, rather than multiple stages.
“They wanted to deal with it for one more round, as opposed to two rounds,” Commisso said.
Smith said council gave the go-ahead last November to seek Phase 3 funding. A submission to FedNor was made in July.
Last month Mayor Keith Hobbs said he’d like to construction begin in 2016, should council approve the project. Bidulka said a spring 2016 construction start would be required in order to open the facility in 2017.