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City seeks Expressions of Interest for development of indoor turf facility

Administration will develop a short list of candidates by October.

THUNDER BAY — The City of Thunder Bay is giving potential partners in the development of a new indoor turf facility one month to come forward with preliminary proposals.

The city this week posted a request for expressions of interest in providing both a short-term solution to the community's need for a multi-use sport facility, and a long-term solution.

City council approved the framework for the EOI process in June, three months after it narrowly rejected the awarding of a $37 million contract for a project at Chapples Park. 

Councillors who said they supported the project in principle were concerned that its "real" cost was about $46 million over 25 years, thanks to around $8.8 million in interest payments on a debenture necessary to fund the project.

In the effort to find a more palatable solution, the Chapples site remains the city's preferred location but all options are on the table. 

While the city explores partnerships with the private sector and other interested organizations, it's also waiting for a decision on its application – submitted in June – for funding assistance from Infrastructure Canada's Green and Inclusive Community Building Program. Word back from the federal government is expected sometime this fall.

According to the EOI, the city open to receiving proposals to provide a facility in the form of either re-purposed space, a lease, or new construction, and any or all of the following services:

  • financing
  • design
  • construction
  • operation
  • maintenance
  • programming and/or marketing

The city is open to innovative and creative arrangements including but not limited to private/public partnerships, joint ventures, alternate financing/ownership arrangements.

Minimum requirements for a short-term solution include a playing surface of 90 X 150 feet., height clearance of 40 feet and readily-accessible parking. The facility would have to be ready no later than fall of 2023.

Minimum requirements for a long-term solution include a playing surface of 190 X 310 feet, a two-lane walking/running track, and seating for 900 spectators. It would have to be completed by March 2026.

The city says proposed short-term solutions will be assessed for potential long-term implications.

In the request for expressions of interest, it acknowledges that there are various site options involving existing or proposed new synthetic turf surfaces either on city or non-city-owned lands, as well as various building solutions.

"Leasing, lease to buy, and/or outright purchase of the structure may all be feasible options, depending on financial considerations and terms," the city says.

It also notes that a building solution that replicates other desirable facility components identified in the Recreation and Facilities and Chapples Park Master Plans "will be looked upon favourably."

The deadline for responses is Aug. 27.

Interested parties are invited to attend an information session scheduled for Aug. 11.

City administration expects to produce a short list of proponents by October.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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