Study identifies two locations for Event Centre in Nanaimo’s downtown
Nanaimo has taken a step towards potentially hosting a Western Hockey League franchise.
The City has completed an initial study looking into the building of an event centre with up to 8,300 seats depending on the event.
Nanaimo’s chief financial officer says such a complex could be a game changer for Nanaimo’s downtown and draw many more attractions. Victor Mema says it would be a 5,200 to 5,700 seat arena and it would also “be a multi-purpose event centre so other things can happen there such as concerts.”
The study by a Toronto based company examined five locations in the city. It determined the Howard Johnson site and this city owned property at 1 Port Drive are most suitable. But there are many details yet to be determined if the project is going to become a reality.
Mema says “Phase one has identified that we probably, to make this viable, need a tenant of WHL nature. That’s part of the equation in doing phase two to see if that’s a possibility or not.”
The artistic renderings are styled like a first nations long house. Financing is a big question mark. The building is estimated to cost between 62 to 83 million dollars. The study suggests 19 financing options. Nanaimo’s mayor says this is a huge question that needs to be suitably answered.
“We need to have a team that has a stake in the building if we choose to go to a WHL team,” says Bill McKay. “We need to have investors that have a stake in the building otherwise they’re completely immobile and we’re the ones taking all the risk.”
The study says there are more than three hundred thousand people within an hours drive of Nanaimo that would help fill the seats. The city will be gathering community feedback and it has commissioned a second study due in mid December.