OHL Arena Prospects Look Bleak

Local residents attend the Bash at the Barn event at Chatham Memorial Area prior to the Kraft Hockeyville announcement, April 4, 2015. (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

It’s time for Chatham-Kent to start thinking about what to do with its Kraft Hockeyville winnings.

Whatever happens with the $100,000 prize money, it likely won’t involve an OHL-sized arena in Chatham.

Staff will give a presentation regarding Chatham-Kent’s arena status tonight. Among the recommendations is to not consider financing a large-scale arena project.

A 5,500-seat facility could cost upwards of $67-million, costing taxpayers an average of $3-million per year for the next 20 years. In order to break even, CK would also have to attract around 80 events to the facility every year. With larger venues like Caesars Windsor and Budweiser Gardens in London, administration doesn’t┬ábelieve this is a sustainable option.

Chatham-Kent Council could also consider building a smaller, twin-pad arena in Chatham that would cost around $20-million. Or perform major upgrades on Chatham Memorial Arena. Officials have created a four-phase upgrade plan, which includes new dressing rooms, washrooms, and plastic armchair-style seating.

Staff is recommending council hold off on deciding what to do with the money, and hire a consultant to weigh the options.