Report advances plans for new Charlottetown sports, entertainment centre

Plans for a multimillion-dollar sports and events centre in Charlottetown are moving ahead, but the city says it will be a while before there are shovels in the ground.

A report from Sierra Planning and Management released Friday, which the city has endorsed, lays out guidelines for funding and implementation.

Charlottetown Mayor Phillip Brown said he sees two objectives in the report. They are building a new facility in the long term, but also replacing Simmons arena in the short term.

“The long-term goal is to put together a plan, a funding plan, a construction plan for the new multi-use sports entertainment centre,” Brown said. 

He said the multi-use sports, entertainment and cultural centre could take as long as nine years.

The mayor compared the project to the construction of Moncton’s Avenir Centre in Moncton, which opened in 2018. Brown said that took about 13 years.

He said an announcement on a Simmons arena replacement will be coming “sooner than later.”

Costs and funding still unknown

In a 2017 report, Charlottetown’s new facility was estimated to cost $80 million. Based on the new report, it could range anywhere from $75 million to $95 million, depending on size.

The report said these costs will only go up and recommends looking to all levels of government, corporate donors, as well as the community.

Ottawa is not offering any funding because there are expected to be professional and semi-professional teams in the facilities, including the Charlottetown Islanders hockey team and the Island Storm basketball team.

The consultants recommended that the new centre should be built at the site of the old government garage on Riverside Drive.

The cost of environmental clean up on the site would be in the millions.

The most recent report by Sierra Planning and Management recommends the old government garage on Riverside Drive as the best location for the new facility. (CBC)

“I think we’re very positive about this report … by adopting it, that means we have to act on it,” said Brown.

The new facility could house up to a 5,800-seat main arena, as well as a second community ice surface. There would be space for concerts, theatre and trade shows.

Wayne Easter, the city’s events development officer,  echoed the mayor’s comments on the centre not happening overnight.

“I would say we’re somewhere in the range of the three to five years, if everything aligns and the government and other partner funding dollars are available to us in order to execute the plan.”

The facility will not be ready for the Canada Games in 2023. There will be upgrades to the existing Eastlink Centre, which Long said can easily accommodate the needs of the games.

More from CBC P.E.I.

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