The Milton's are looking forward to a new event centre.
Season ticket holders in Thunder Bay since the days of the Twins, they've loved their time at the Fort William Gardens. But with small seating and accessibility issues, the couple says it's time for the city to move forward.
They were part of 155 mostly familiar faces both for and against the proposed $100 million event centre at the Italian Cultural Centre Tuesday night as the city presented conceptual drawings of the 50,000 square-foot space.
"It's been a great place but it's time to move on and get something new," Maureen Milton said of the Gardens.
Ray Milton said what they've seen of the idea so far looks excellent. Maureen said railings along the stairs jumped out at her as something the Gardens was lacking.
"I think that's a very good feature," she said.
It's features like that Phil Teau said makes the place look functional while keeping aesthetics in mind.
"I like the openness of the centre," he said.
While in favour of the project if government and corporate funding makes it affordable to the taxpayer, he was hoping to see drawings at the open house that showed other events than just hockey.
"That might help me picture it a little bit better," he said.
John Murray moved back to Thunder Bay from London, England two weeks ago to be closer to family and open a new restaurant on the city's North side. He's been hearing from family and friends about the proposed centre and wanted to see the plans for himself.
"It's interesting to see how it's all progressing," Murray said. "I think its a great thing for the city personally."
While most of what was presented to the public echoed a press conference earlier Tuesday, consultants did tell the crowd that a parking structure and proposed pedestrian walkway would likely be removed from the project. Earlier estimates pegged those features at $9.25 million.
Opposition to the proposed centre is still strong, suggests Ray Smith, who heads the Concerned Taxpayers of Thunder Bay lobby group. Smith said late Tuesday his group will be issuing a press release on Thursday detailing new information about public support of the project.
"The up-to-date results of this on going poll will be very interesting in light of the so called transparent process the city has been conducting for the last several years including tonight's meeting. Gary Green of Thunder Bay Live has stated we need public input and that's exactly what the Concerned Taxpayers of Thunder Bay are doing," Smith said via an electronic communication to Dougall Media.