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Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday May 27 2015
9:51 PM EDT
2014-05-27 at 13:01

Sneak peek

Michael Smith, City of Thunder Bay
Leith Dunick,
Michael Smith, City of Thunder Bay's facility manager
By Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- Chris O’Reilly says they were trying to stay away from a traditional hockey arena concept.

On Tuesday the partner at BBB Architects unveiled the preliminary design for the proposed $100-million Thunder Bay event centre, a 5,700-seat facility that would be able to house 7,200 for concerts and includes 50,000 square feet of dedicated convention space in the city’s downtown north core.

“We wanted to stay away from the stereotypical arena look,” said O’Reilly, the younger brother of former Boston Bruins great Terry O’Reilly.

Aesthetics were important said O’Reilly, whose firm has built several rinks of varying size around the world.

The functionality they’ve got down pat, he said.

Making it work in Thunder Bay was the biggest challenge in presenting city council and the public with the first real views of what the facility might look like.

“The issue here was dealing with the site, trying to capture the Thunder Bay feel, which is a strong message on natural materials – rock, wood, glass – trying to capture your amazing view out to the water,” O’Reilly said.

The building, which includes 23 luxury boxes, a team store an 8,000-square foot banquet hall, four sport suites, two group suites and a 600-seat club area, has been designed for just that purpose, with large glass windows overlooking the lake from the banquet hall.

“We’re trying to take some cues from the new buildings that have been built on the waterfront and bring that into the architecture and the language. It’s a very strong, forward-thinking, contemporary look, which not everybody will be able to relate too,” O’Reilly said.

“But I think it’s important to set the tone for the Thunder Bay of the future and for the next generation.”

First and foremost, said Thunder Bay Live spokesman Gary Green, residents shouldn’t look at the project as solely an arena.

It’s so much more.

Although the Winnipeg Jets remain committed to moving their American Hockey League team to become the primary tenant of the facility, hockey is only one of many different types of events that will be staged in the event centre, should council give the go-ahead in the next 12 months.

Green cautioned it’s a work in progress and nothing has been finalized.

“And it’s very important through this transparent process that we have the public’s input,” Green said.

He can’t say enough about the location, which has been a controversial choice since it was first announced in 2012.

“That’s what we call in the television business and absolute beauty shot,” he said. “That beauty shot means a great deal to attract major events.”

The centre should also prove to be an economic driver for the city’s economy, Green added.

“This will be a destination point that this city will be proud of,” said Green, whose Thunder Bay Live signed a letter of intent earlier this month to partner with the city to operate and construct the event centre should it go ahead.

On that end, Michael Smith, the city’s facility manager, said Thunder Bay Live has promised to deliver and absolute final highest cost by the end of July, including final plans.
Smith said he’s hoping to have the Phase 3 studies completed at that time.

“That will give administration the opportunity to report back to council in August sometime, probably the latter part of August,” Smith said. “Then it gives us the opportunity of putting our (funding) applications together and submitting it by the end of September. We’re anticipating that all things considered a six-month review by the funding partners.”

Construction, if approved, would start next June, with an opening date of September 2017.
A citizen survey, which included landline and cell phone participants, is expected to be unveiled next month.

The public is invited to an open house, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at the Italian Cultural Centre on Algoma Street.



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Tiredofit says:
How come all the supporters refuse to talk about the auditorium? It loses hundreds of thousands yearly and will only more of this is built. Thus we get another increase in taxes to support it further! They will lose more shows to the new Enormo Dome on the waterfront, thus reducing revenue. Maybe we can get Spinal Tap or a Duke Fame to open it......

Who's going to support that? Maybe we should shutter that while we are at it. If it was a private developer building this, people would be up in arms over the fact they it would kill the Auditorium. It should be a private developer and not the tax payers. Give them a 25 year tax break or something stupid, the city/tax payers should not shoulder the burden to increase revenues for private corporations plain and simple.... Bug then again we did give ReGen Millions, god knows who else. Oh yeah, spend 60 million on the waterfront so we can sell it for 600k to a private developer so he can make millions in profit.
5/29/2014 6:39:17 AM
Bienriff says:
They said that 1000 people were surveyed out of 115,000 what are the percentage of Representation fiqures on that amount? How many people that post here go and watch LU and the Northstars play hockey?
5/28/2014 1:31:41 PM
oldnews says:
I read on here were some are and not predicting funds from the Ontario Gov. It appears to be shaping up again for another minority, and another election call within 9 months to 1 year; so hold on for a while to see whats left over after Toronto Transit gets their coin 1st.
5/28/2014 11:27:02 AM
sinkoreswim says:
Season ticket buyer right here! BTW, I'm going to enjoy seeing gardens demolished if it's not repurposed
5/28/2014 10:27:46 AM
n00n says:
Us too...a box for the business and season tickets for sure!
5/28/2014 12:28:12 PM
Robert Bob says:
Thunder Bay can afford the Event Centre. It will lose money thats a fact jack. Solution Sell Thunder Bay Hydro to Hydro 1 , and or sell Tbay Tel. The amount of Net gain per year to the city will be greater than the current "return" with the Money invested well over the long term. Then the "new event centre" will provide a nice new modern building downtown in the "entertaintment district". Thousands of "fans" will poor downtown and "spend" money before and after events. Job Creation, Ecomomic Spin off benefits, increased Tax base from all the new business, Conventions and Business Events will Fill Hotel Rooms. The operating cost then are not an issue, Tax increases will be less. The city then can fix roads and come up with another new master plan.
5/28/2014 9:29:14 AM
Clobbering Time says:
@TBDR, I will see you at the games because I will be getting season tix too. At least there are a few excited people about this.
5/28/2014 9:15:24 AM
Sawmillsteve says:
Isn't the city in debt to the tune of $180 million? I really don't think this city can afford something like this and it's accociated cost!
5/28/2014 5:14:36 AM
smartguy83 says:

You used a fact and turned it into a false statement. Good work.

Debt happens. Debt is often a good thing. The city is nowhere near the threshold of debt leverage.
5/28/2014 11:11:27 AM
Stephen says:
Lose: to fail.
Loose: untied.
Losers: The sub literates.
5/28/2014 4:13:32 AM
TBDR says:
I can't wait to get my season tix for the baby jets!
5/28/2014 1:30:47 AM
canada101 says:
I wonder how many birds this glass building will kill. Perfect spot for it, right by the waterfront where they gather.
5/27/2014 11:34:00 PM
eventscentre says:
Uh oh, now you're starting to sound like the people who want to quash the wind turbine project. Funny how you all are so concerned about birds when there's a project designed to better our city but you're more than happy to let dicky birds perish when they hit the windows on your house or windshield.
5/28/2014 7:15:30 AM
Wolfie says:
Because they are being killed by the thousands by all of the glass on Bight Restaurant, which is even closer to the water, right?
5/28/2014 7:16:14 AM
ring of fire dude says:
Don't eat the chicken burgers from any concessions at the E.C..
5/28/2014 8:32:04 AM
ibrando says:
No worries wolfie and mikethunder. See ya back here June 13 to celebrate the Conservative landslide and the final nail in the welfare dome coffin> Can't wait.
5/27/2014 9:15:44 PM
Wolfie says:
I'm not a member of any political party, nor have I decided how I will vote this time around. I'm just pointing out that at this time, there is no "expected Conservative majority". Obviously that may change as the campaign progresses.
5/28/2014 7:17:41 AM
Allan J. says:
Why are we spending a 100 million plus on this?

it looks just like the gardens. Put up some useless and energy inefficient glass as a entrance to the gardens and that's what we get.

what's the point?
5/27/2014 8:02:50 PM
orca says:
How much on average are the property taxes in the Simpson, east end areas? I have a feeling I will be moving there in the next few years. I hear property taxes are still less than a thousand.
5/27/2014 7:24:58 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Sure. 100 mil TODAY. 125 mil six months from now...155 mil 18 months from now...190 mil 2 years from la la la lah...250 mil by the time its "finished". Don't forget, the place will be declared derelict after only 20 years. Will there be new feasibility studies and consultants to prepare for the replacement?
5/27/2014 6:11:32 PM
buzz says:
What part of this quote did you not understand "Michael Smith, the city’s facility manager, said Thunder Bay Live has promised to deliver and absolute final highest cost by the end of July" If you actually chose to listen to the info provided, part of the agreement with Thunder Bay Live is that they will give a fixed price contract to build and they will take on the risks of cost overruns not the city. They should actually do more contracts like that.
5/28/2014 8:30:13 AM
mikethunderbay says:
To ibrando.....just to let you know, the polls currently show a liberal minority with a chance at majority. Some things never change on here, like actual facts being used in the comments
5/27/2014 5:03:23 PM
Allan J. says:
the only poll that matters is election day.

Pollsters are notoriously poor. Think BC and Alberta which had Wild Rose taking the province.

but neither of those happened either.

Theres no money for this anyway, its dead except in the eyes of the greedy who need this project to make themselves feel good.
5/27/2014 8:06:57 PM
Wolfie says:
You'll find that in both of those cases, the problem was that the pollsters underestimated the support for the incumbent. If the same happens here, it could well be a Liberal majority.

However, the polling companies made adjustments to their methods as a result of those elections, and were pretty accurate on the recent Quebec election.
5/28/2014 7:20:58 AM
S Duncan says:
so what excuse will you invent when it doesn't go to the liberals?

remember the federal election was supposed to be neck and neck with iggy too, but we all know how that worked out, don't we?
5/28/2014 12:14:27 PM
Eastender says:
A liberal majority? Are you forgetting the contempt with which McGuinty treated the voters of this province? The Billions of dollars wasted foolishly. The HST? The no new taxes, that gave us the new health tax. The inflated hydro costs that will keep increasing for years. McGuinty might be gone but the party is still the same. You cant change the DNA of this spend and tax party.
When you get Cancer like the liberal party spreading then drastic surgery is needed if the patient is expected to survive. The Liberals are the disease, and the patient is looking to the PCs for help.

When your on your death bed, style and charm, (liberals), dont cut it. You need the expertise of Dr. Feelgood. (Prog. Conservatives).

Who ever thought Rob Ford, warts and all, would win by a landslide. But he did, and he did exactly what he said he would do, kept taxes from rising

Dont ever underestimate the memory of the electorate, cuzz it aint over till its over.

5/28/2014 12:47:02 PM
Clobbering Time says:
The eventcenter is a good idea.
5/27/2014 4:28:57 PM
pearlman says:
Awesome news!

Step by step, ever closer!
5/27/2014 4:11:04 PM
jonthunder says:
I am trying to form my own informed view on the event centre. I would assume a prudent government would have completed a cost benefit analysis. Can someone provide a link to the cost benefit analysis for the proposed Event Centre so I can base my assessment on some scientific facts? Thank you.
5/27/2014 4:06:02 PM
Wolfie says:
I believe that is part of the Phase 3 report, which is coming this summer.
5/27/2014 4:56:10 PM
Geezer1 says:
Unfortunately, the stats that have been published by the City and their developer minions are beyond belief. The numbers of days hosting various events and expected revenue shortfalls are ridiculous. Despite the gain in revenues at the expense of existing local businesses that already provide many of the entertainment, convention and banquet-related services this is not even a zero-sum result. Increased taxes will result in LESS money available to spend on these events. A huge net loss to the economy will be the result. Just spend out taxes fixing roads, sewers and provide services to meet our health and education needs. Councillors, forget about your Sky-Boxes and free tickets from grateful deveolers. It's time to stop taking and start serving.
5/27/2014 7:42:37 PM
ibrando says:
I am so glad that this project will be dead in the water (or by the water) once the reset button has been pushed on the provincial government June 12th. The expected Conservative majority government will put an end to the welfare dome for a good, long time!
5/27/2014 4:03:27 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Just to let you know, both Conservative candidates locally have said they are willing to fight for the project if the city wants to go ahead with it and it's deemed a priority.
5/27/2014 4:08:08 PM
ibrando says:
Leith, did you actually just reply or did you leave you computer unattended? It does not matter one bit what the local candidates SAY they will do. They just want to be elected. Hobbs is a perfect example. Just to let you know.
5/27/2014 4:19:54 PM
progress now says:
Actually, irrespective of party affiliation, provincial governments try to support municipal governments where there is strong support in the community for a project like this. This happens across the country.

If you think about it, what else can they do?

I personally think the facility is too ambitious, but if the city puts it forward as a priority its game, set and match. The province will not second guess city council.

This makes who we elect to council very very important.
5/27/2014 10:32:20 PM
ibrando says:
Pull your head out of your backside progress now, the provincial government is nearly 300 billion in debt! Do we start reducing spending AFTER a few select individuals in this city get their wish for a new hockey venue? Sorry, but the trough is closed. Maybe this was a project worth persuing 15+ years ago.
5/28/2014 9:50:37 AM
progress now says:
I agree and have said the project, in my view, is too ambitious, but provinces play ball with municipal governments.

Should the feds and provinces fund this kind of infrastructure as opposed to bridges, roads, sewers, hospitals given the economy we are moving into? That is another matter and I suspect are views are in agreement there too.

But thanks for the advice.
5/28/2014 1:37:28 PM
ibrando says:
Hey progress now, you gave an opinion, sorry I was rude.
5/28/2014 7:47:35 PM
Eastender says:
The problem with that concept is that the city who are the taxpayers should be the ones to consult, not Hobbs or Commosso. They are not the city, we are!
And that can only be determined by a plebiscite.
5/27/2014 8:42:26 PM
Wolfie says:
Actually, based on the polls so far, it is an expected Liberal minority government. Again.
5/27/2014 4:58:23 PM
OdieCleghorn says:
Wolfie, PC's and there supporters have never let facts get in the way of opinion... have they?
5/27/2014 5:47:52 PM
conker2012 says:
Wolfe, trolls don't care about facts and the truth. They just like to see their post on the screen. #trollhunter
5/27/2014 6:53:08 PM
bttnk says:
From what I see it looks great and the ideas they've presented are appealing. Truly looking forward to seeing the details next week and completing Phase 3 and being "shovel ready".

Great news Thunder Bay!
5/27/2014 3:46:54 PM
Wolfie says:
As noted in the article, you can see the details tonight at the Italian Cultural Centre.
5/27/2014 4:59:31 PM
avase1 says:
Looks great! This will provide Thunder Bay with more opportunities!
5/27/2014 3:43:27 PM
unknowncronik says:
hahahha... I can show u a pic of how something could be & it may look good, but is it right?

This town needs to put some attention towards it's infrastructure & not go in the hole $100 million+ because it would look good.

The marina is the worst place for this arena, but always falls on deaf ears. These hotels built at the marina were I'm sure promised the building of the arena down the street & shouldn't have been promised anything!

Were digging a hole so big that our kids kids will be paying crazy taxes for it 20+ years down the line. Who will stand up in this town & just say enough is enough of this crazy spending spree & try to just get by a year without going more into the hole?

Too many are living on credit & or cheque by cheque every week that would love to be "in the black"!

This arena will put Thunder Bay "in the red" for numerous years and years & will be another blunder that the rest of Canada talks about.

Just sad.
5/28/2014 2:21:48 AM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
So, are we building this or still looking at whether we can afford it? If funding is received from both levels of government and this project moves forward. What is the purpose of the survey? I believe the cities process used to gather public opinion on this issue was one of manipulation rather then a true picture of public opinion. The public consultation meetings could not be taken as a true gauge of opinion. Meetings were attended by the same special interest group and numerous questionars could be given by the same person or not even a city resident. As for having a say with the last election, that is nothing but B.S. looking at the mayor he flip flopped from his campaign to his win. I want a say including location.
5/27/2014 3:35:06 PM
signman says:
The design of the proposed Event Centre means very little to most TAXPAYERS.

The public wants a VOTE on this project!

5/27/2014 3:03:47 PM
DougMyers says:
I'm surprised you are not aware but the public gets a vote this fall in the municipal election.

If you have a strong opinion one way or the other, choose a candidate that supports your view.

In the end the majority, you choose to exercise their vote, will speak and their voice will be heard.

I'm not sure what you don't understand about this concept. It's pretty simple.
5/27/2014 4:26:00 PM
ring of fire dude says:
No No No No No ... Since when did the Municipal election become a yes/no decision whether to build the arena .
5/27/2014 10:02:20 PM
DougMyers says:
A municipal election is always a yes/no on major decisions.

Since when did a plebiscite become mandatory on decisions of democratically elected officials?

A democacy does not necessitate a plebiscite on every major decision.

I am certainly not against the idea, however until the final numbers are in it is premature.

I want to base my desicion on as much information that can be had.
5/28/2014 8:44:18 AM
S Duncan says:
Since when did a $106 million dollar welfare dome become mandatory for all taxpayers to fund?

Considering that the feds already said NO. This whole process has been complete waste.
5/28/2014 11:53:48 AM
DougMyers says:
Since the beginning of democratic time.

It's called majority rule. If the majority wants something, all tax payers pay for it.

The upcoming municipal election will tell the tale.

I obviously support the idea but will not be upset if the election and thus the majority decide otherwise.

How about you?
5/28/2014 9:17:43 PM
Winger says:
What makes you think you get to make a decision and that it matters? Wake up! This is getting rammed down your throat whether you like it or not. You should be wondering why your opinion on this money losing venture doesnt mean anything, not how much information youre getting pumped up with. Stop embarrassing yourself.
5/28/2014 4:49:07 PM
ring of fire dude says:
How about a sneak-peak at my municipal tax assessment for the next 10 years after this arena is rammed through ?
5/27/2014 2:56:05 PM
Kam River says:
Waste of money the Proposed $100-million Multiplex
You have Poverty Free Thunder Bay Picketing the Leaders Debate. Welfare money comes out of municipal taxes.
Do they not understand that this waste of money will cost jobs, raise taxes and force more people in to Poverty
Every member of this council needs to be vote out.
5/27/2014 2:37:02 PM
Tbay Import says:
I don't think it matters who is in council; vote them all out and it will still be opening in 2017. This is going ahead, even if 99% of the population was clearly against it (I don't think the number is that high though...)

Even Hobbs, who has admitted that he has flip-flopped on the events centre, was against it now its full steam ahead. This is what will happen with the next batch of councilors too.
5/27/2014 3:43:26 PM
yqt says:
Ya, it's called politics.... never heard of it??
5/27/2014 6:08:24 PM
reese says:
Terry O Reilly, great never heard of him
5/27/2014 2:32:49 PM
Wolfie says:
Looks good!
5/27/2014 2:32:01 PM
rob20 says:
The conceptual artwork of the hockey arena does not show anywhere that I see someone in a wheelchair might be able to sit. The Vikings new arena details in its FAQ the extent that they've gone to provide accessible seating for a disabled person + companion. To quote:

"calls for 658 wheelchair and companion seats to be located throughout all seating levels of the stadium (in comparison, the Mall of America Field had 190 wheelchair and companion seats). That number does not include the accessible seating within the suites, loge spaces and club spaces, or an approximate 140 additional wheelchair spaces."

Has any details of this topic for our proposed arena been made available?

There is a large population of persons with disabilities & others with mobility impairments within our community. I hope this arena is being designed with flexibility to accommodate that more than the bare minimum.
5/27/2014 1:41:21 PM
Tbay Import says:
This would be required by law because of the Accessibility Ontario Act.

That's a good point!
5/27/2014 3:36:47 PM
Leith Dunick says:
The designers of the centre said today the building will be one of the most accessible of its kind. I just didn't have room in the story for it. They also said while the parkade is being phased out of the design, there will be plenty of accessible parking adjacent to the facility, I believe a new surface-level lot they plan to build as part of the project.
5/27/2014 4:00:08 PM
rob20 says:
The accessibility within I'm happy to hear about. Losing the parkade though is a major error in judgment - for all, wheelchair or not. The number of people possessing disabled parking passes and using them legally/illegally is ridiculous in this city. Even Intercity with all its park is darn near impossible to find a disabled spot in most days.
5/28/2014 9:41:37 AM
sinkoreswim says:
Looks AWESOME! I am getting very excited to see what's going on downtown and I can't wait to see the first shove hit the dirt!
5/27/2014 1:30:54 PM
Eastender says:
Why all the fuss? Its just a picture! Now you can stop jumping up and down!
5/29/2014 12:08:13 AM
Robert Bob says:
Wow 100 Million or there abouts for the Event Center. The views are just amazing, oh look its another CP train going by the waterfront. Just can't wait to find out the loss each and every year from operation cost. MSG is booked only 300 days per year in a city of over 15 million. Essar center in Sault Ste. Marie was booked around 137 days last year and losses money. The Event center will look nice and modern while it sits empty around 150 days a year. Just think how nice the picture of it will look on a Web Site from Thunder Bay. It should only cost the taxpayers a 7-12 % premium on taxes for the next 25 years.
5/27/2014 1:27:38 PM
Rock49 says:
Robert, the events centre should try to make a profit every year, just like the Gardens, and have just as much parking. Right? How come you whiners never mention the deficit the Gardens has acquired each year for the last 50 years, not including the expensive renovations. You've also never asked for another 1000 parking spaces around the Gardens. Maybe your group should uplift the Gardens and drag it into Inova Park. This way, you won't have to, you know, WALK far.
5/27/2014 3:46:21 PM
Localguy says:
These projects loose money. They will be lucky to break even. Other cities across Canada are investing in smaller centre rather than grand expensive complexes. They old facility lost money, and the new one even with expanded offerings will continue this trend. Listen to the spin Doctors if you will but the world is pulled over your eyes.

Also, how would you feel about gambling 400,000 a night on certain concerts? All paid with tax payers money. I can think of better bets to make than this project IMO.
5/27/2014 6:58:05 PM
smartguy83 says:
The majority of the current premium on taxes is due to previous Councils unwillingness to look bad and spend.

We can't put this off forever. Our facilities are ALL old and outdated.

Sometimes you have to respect this.

For those who think the funding should be private, please name me a private corporation in the city that is able to fund this project.

Bombardier has no chance as the facility might as well be considered a government funded organization. Bowater is scraping by.

Construction companies do not have the cash flow.

There are literally 0 options.
5/28/2014 10:04:42 AM
Tiredofit says:
Private funders won't fund it because they're smart enough to know better! I asked a prominent local developer and even he said the city was nuts, but he's going to make out well on it so he just smiled and laughed. What does that tell me? When a very smart building tycoon thinks it's a back idea, well.... Walk away folks... Walk away
5/29/2014 6:45:57 AM
smartguy83 says:
You are likely correct to a certain point. I am not here to argue the facility will make money.

What I am arguing is that the citizens need a facility to improve quality of life. Argue till you are blue in the face but most people in this city who enjoy sports, concerts, etc are well aware of the need for a new facility.

My point is when this time comes, whether it be now, 2017, 2030 the tax payers will have to pay for it. I have NO issue being a part of paying for this facility to improve the quality of life in the city.

If we don't do it, what do you suggest? Utilizing 100 yr old facilities? Come on...Young adults, teenagers and future generations demand entertainment. This is an excellent time to do it.
5/29/2014 9:53:42 AM
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