Chatham-Kent Looks Into Building Twin Pad Arena

New door at Memorial Arena in Chatham. December 12, 2017. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Municipal staff are moving forward on developing plans to build a twin pad arena in Chatham.

A motion was approved 13-1 at Chatham-Kent council Monday evening, which included the following recommendations:

  1. Administration be directed to develop plans to build a twin-pad arena in the community of Chatham to replace Memorial Arena and William K. Erickson Arena.

  2. Administration complete a site analysis and provide council with a site recommendation.

  3. Concurrent with the site analysis, administration develop specifications for the twin pad arena to be presented to the next term of council.

  4. Administration present a financing plan to council, after exploration of funding options with senior levels of government, to address the costs associated with land procurement, site remediation, bidding, design, and construction of the arena. Project approval is dependent on senior-level government funding.

On January 29, administration informed council of the updated capital and operating costs of twin pad arenas and said that administration will return to council within the next few months with a recommendation on a twin pad arena size.

The report outlines two project considerations for a 4,200-seat Event Centre and a 2,200-seat community facility that requires direction from council.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire says the next term of council will make the decision after reports come back sometime in January 2019.

Regardless of size, the arena will require approximately nine to 10 acres for the building and public parking.

The report says theĀ Memorial Arena and William K. Erickson Arena will remain operational until the new arena is built, unless the arenas are impacted by the site that is chosen for the new facility.

The capital cost estimate for the Event CentreĀ is $52-million to $56-million. The estimate for the community facility is $25-million to $29-million. Neither estimate includes site acquisition, site remediation, servicing costs, or revenues such as grants and donations.

The report says research has shown the annual net operations cost of event centres range from $400,000 to $1-million. The operational costs are impacted by the number of events hosted, the number and type of anchor tenants, and the success of revenue centres, such as concessions, seat licensing, box suites, advertisements, naming rights, box office fees, etc.

It is estimated the annual net operations cost for the Community Facility will range from $100,000 to $200,000. This net cost is comparable to the current combined operations cost of Memorial Arena and William K. Erickson Arena.

Shropshire says building a twin pad arena is much more cost effective than building two new ones.

“The projections we’ve had from people that have actually built and operated twin pad arenas is that you can expect to save 20 to 30% of the operating costs,” he explains. “There’s many times when you can actually have one concession stand, or one zamboni, or one refrigeration plant, so the operating costs are substantially less.”

Shropshire says they are trying to make sure they are ready for the funding if and when it becomes available.

“What was being presented [Monday] evening was a request to get direction from council so that we could do that preparation and be available to take advantage of any funding that might be available,” he says.

Shropshire says the funding will probably coincide with the next term of council anyways.

“We’ve got a provincial election obviously in less than two weeks. They’re likely not going to be making any announcements or considerations on that regard for several months afterwards,” he says. “The federal government program looks like it’s going to be in place for up to a ten-year period.”

Shropshire calls the plans for the twin pad arena a “once in a generation type decision.”