Civic Centre identified as location for new sports and entertainment centre

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The civic centre site has emerged as the top choice for a new sports and entertainment facility in Brantford.

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The centre, at 79 Market St., was one of 10 sites initially considered for the new centre. The list was narrowed down to three with the civic centre being chosen after a review of parking, pedestrian safety, planning developments, timing and economic impact.

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Other factors considered during the review included transit, environmental issues, planned development and potential site acquisition costs.

“Based on the results of the review and assessment, the Civic Centre was ranked the highest in nearly every criteria category, with the exception of parking (where it scored second) and ease of development (where it ranked third),” says a report.

The report will come before city councillors for discussion and debate on Nov. 28. It was prepared by city CAO Brian Hutchings, consultants KKR Advisors and city communications director Maria Visocchi.

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“The City of Brantford has been presented with a rare opportunity to elevate the city’s profile as a renowned destination for world class sports, in concert with the unique opportunity to revitalize the heart of the city, enhance tourism and attract world-class entertainment to Brantford and area,” said the report.

The report doesn’t identify any of the other 10 initial sites or the final three citing privacy and confidentiality.

When the report is presented on Tuesday (Nov. 28), city councillors will be asked to approve a plan for a public consultation campaign to be conducted in December 2023.

The consultation campaign will include a public meeting to be held sometime before Dec. 20. Residents will also be able to voice their opinion through at month-long Let’s Talk Brantford campaign  starting Dec. 1.

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The campaign will ask residents to provide input regarding possible venue uses and preferred features within the facility.

The results of the public consultation will be compiled into a report to be presented to city council in January.

Meanwhile, a financing and partnership assessment report is also being prepared and is expected to be presented to council in January 2024.

The assessment report will include financial structuring of comparable sports and entertainment facilities in other markets. As well, it will find out how select municipalities have attracted private sector entities – corporations – to assist in financing and/or provision of community infrastructure projects.

The opportunity is largely the result of an agreement the city made with the Brantford Bulldogs, of the Ontario Hockey League, to play their home games at the civic centre for a three-year period starting in October. 2023.

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The deal includes a provision that the city consider the future development of a new sports and entertainment centre with a minimum capacity of 5,000 seats. The city hired KKR Advisors to provide a business case, location assessment and looking financing and partnerships with the goal of maintaining a competitive OHL team for the long term.

The centre would also accommodate other large scale entertainment possibilities.

In September, councillors received a report from KKR that says the optimal size for a new facility would be 5,000 to 5,300 fixed seat capacity at a cost of $115 million-$140 million. But the figures don’t include land and site development costs of parking.

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