The master agreement to renovate Hamilton’s downtown entertainment venues is expected to be ratified on Wednesday (June 9).
Thursday, after an in-camera session, Hamilton city councillors approved the agreement setting out the privately funded $500-million plan to revitalize the downtown’s entertainment precinct.
The proposal, which the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (aka The Precinct Group) brought forward last summer, calls for modernizing the FirstOntario Centre, renovating FirstOntario Concert Hall and the Hamilton Convention Centre, and building three highrises, one of which could be home to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The Precinct Group would cover the costs.
All three entertainment venues were built in the 1970s and ’80s, and the capital and maintenance costs had become a growing expense for the City of Hamilton in recent years.
Final details of The Precinct Group’s plan will not be known for a few days. There a few specifics about any plans for changing the the seating capacity of FirstOntario Centre, which built to 1980s National Hockey League specifications and can hold around 17,000 spectators. Their plan calls for renovating the arena’s lower bowl and adding a new curtaining system to the upper bowl. The concourse level would be expanded.
The arena is home to the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs and the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the third-season Canadian Elite Basketball League. The Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League have also announced a move to play home games in Hamilton, while keeping their geographic designation.
Images via City of Hamilton.