The future of Stoney Creek arena remains up for debate following a report to Hamilton’s Emergency and Community Services Committee on Monday (August 17).
The arena, which was built in the mid-1960s, has come under the microscope in recent years because as it stands, it’s become a drain on the city’s financial resources.
“The 2020 Council approved Operating Budget anticipates that the arena will operate with direct expenses of $414,810, offset by $163,420 in revenue for a total net loss estimated at $251,390,” a report prepared by the City’s Healthy and Safe Communities Department notes
It also points out that there are currently no capital projects scheduled for the ageing arena but that there’s a capital backlog of $2.4 million, which represents a rather conservative estimate should the City decide to move forward with upgrades to the facility.
In recent years, demand for Stoney Creek Arena’s ice has been on a steady decline, particularly since the opening of privately owned Gateway Ice Centre in lower Stoney Creek.
This has drawn “community rentals away from the City’s nearby rinks,” the report notes.
In the wake of COVID-19, the demand for the ice is likely to go further down, the report predicts, as fewer people are expected to be playing in the season (or possibly seasons) ahead.
So the question remains: what to do with Stoney Creek Arena which has yet to be declared surplus?
The report provides several possible scenarios for the facility’s future use but much depends on the outcome of a study currently being carried out by the City’s Recreation Department.
“This plan will review, analyze and provide recommendations with respect to future city-owned indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, amenities and program,” the report says.
“With respect to arenas, the Recreation Master Plan will determine which arena facilities are surplus to community needs and should be decommissioned or repurposed.”
With that in mind, the report proposed the following scenarios for this long-time venue for winter sport:
- B-Rated Community Centre
The Indoor Study noted a trend where single pads are being retired, converted to arena floor-based activities (e.g. ball hockey, in-line skating) or other uses, closed outright, or are being twinned. The Study recommended that if any existing arenas become surplus through new development, there could be opportunities to repurpose some buildings into B-rated community centres where needed.
- Stoney Creek Recreation Centre Expansion
If Stoney Creek Arena was ever deemed surplus, an alternative worth exploring would be the addition of a gymnasium to the existing Stoney Creek Recreation Centre. This could be feasible so long as connections from the existing building to the new addition are possible, compliance with zoning by-law and necessary site plan approval and building permit is received. The outdoor amenities (i.e. play structure and open space) will require relocation/removal. There appears to be ample parking to support a gymnasium addition if the arena is demolished.
- Partnership/Alternative Use
There are a variety of partners that the City could work with at this facility if it can no longer sustain ice surfaces as a viable option. An example is a request from the Glendale Curling Club. Since the group no longer has a facility of their own, they are hoping to partner with the City and invest money into a City facility in Stoney Creek. The group claims that a partnership with the City would be cost-effective and provide a much-needed destination point for local and visiting curlers with the additional promise of economic development spinoffs from curlers who come to the area to take part in bonspiels.
The demolition of the facility is also an option if there is no demonstrated need for alternative uses. After demolition expenses, this would provide a net savings in operating expenses and a reduced pressure on the city-wide capital backlog.
The date for the updated Recreation Master Plan is yet to be determined but at that time, it seems, the future of Stoney Creek Arena will be much more clear.