Redevelopment Proposals Presented for Downtown Arena

Council had its first opportunity to view two proposals for a re-imagined downtown arena, after deciding  to pass on spending $100 million dollars on a 6,000 seat mountain arena.

The two proposals, submitted by Vrancor Group and Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group were presented to council at its February 5 General Issues Committee meeting.

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

Council had its first opportunity to view two proposals for a re-imagined downtown arena, after deciding  to pass on spending $100 million dollars on a 6,000 seat mountain arena.

The two proposals, submitted by Vrancor Group and Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group were presented to council at its February 5 General Issues Committee meeting.

For more, please continue reading below…

The two consortiums presented their cases to redevelop the area around the First Ontario Centre and Hamilton Convention Centre.

Vrancor Group vision for a downtown arena. (Vrancor Group)

The Vrancor Group presented their proposal for a $200 million dollar plan which includes significant renovation to the First Ontario Centre as well as adding two mid-rise office buildings. According to project manager Mario Frankovitch, the seating capacity of the arena would be 15, 400 seats compared to the current capacity of 17,000. Frankovitch said architects do have a plan to increase capacity if the plans call for that in the future.

Frankovich also presented an expansion and modernization of the Hamilton Convention Centre by “doubling its event hosting capacity” while “aesthetically refreshing” FirstOntario Concert Hall and “taking out” the upper bowl out at FirstOntario Centre. The plan does call for adjustable seating between hockey and live events, he said.

The other presentation received by council was from a consortium including Carmen’s Group, LIUNA Pension Fund, Meridian Credit Union, Paletta International and Jetport Inc. which calls itself the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group.

The group’s plan calls for a remodelled First Ontario Centre and as well as moving the convention centre and concert hall into an area near the current Hamilton City Centre and turning the existing concert hall and convention site into a hotel, residential and commercial complex. The estimated cost is $500 million dollars.

First Ontario Centre envisioned by the Hamilton Urban Precinct Arts and Entertainment Group. (Hamilton Urban Precinct Arts and Entertainment Group)

Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko, who chaired the meeting, told Global News about the next steps of the process:

“Staff will undertake a careful evaluation of all viable options to make sure that what is being proposed can be delivered on the terms promised,” said Danko.

“We understand that Hamilton residents would like to see a positive conclusion to this process and we are working hard to reach that goal as quickly as possible.”

As this discussion and future discussions surrounding the arena proposals will be handled in-camera, Danko stated that the in-camera session was to “maintain the integrity of the process” as the bids contain proprietary information.

“This is a very complicated project that involves many moving pieces including the purchase and sale of multiple properties, financing, negotiations with various stakeholders and proprietary details of each proposal” Danko said.

The proposals so far also do not feature any city money.

“The best part is that these proposals promise hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, remove the taxpayer’s annual subsidy of the existing facilities and don’t require a cent of taxpayer capital commitment!”

Questions or concerns?

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