The General Issues Committee finally heard from the man behind the arena proposal that has Hamilton abuzz.
At Wednesday’s (Oct. 2) GIC meeting, Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer presented — for a gruelling three hours — his proposal for a 6,000-seat arena complex next to Lime Ridge Mall.
The overall price tag for such an undertaking was pegged at $126 million of which taxpayers would be on the hook for approximately $100 million — $54 million of which would be dedicated to a parking garage.
Andlauer, who called the complex a ‘difference-maker,’ offered to contribute $30 million to the construction of the arena.
As well as the arena, the plans for this ‘mixed-use’ complex would include a parking garage that could accommodate hundreds of cars, three residential buildings and a hotel. The land on which the complex would sit would be leased from Cadillac Fairview for $1 a year.
Rendering of the complex in Cadillac Farview/Bulldogs proposal.
“The status quo is no longer acceptable,” Andlauer said in reference to maintaining the ageing entertainment facilities in the city Downtown core. He also alluded to the fact that just keeping the ‘lights on’ at FirstOntario Centre is costing taxpayers millions annually.
Andlauer’s proposal sets out a situation in which he would assume management, including all the capital costs, of the complex for 20 years, but Andlauer made clear that this was not set in stone.
“Hamilton is No. 1 in my heart,” Andlauer said. “[We can] really make a difference in a modern facility.”
Previous estimates for retrofitting FirstOntario and bringing it up to modern standards stands at approximately $68 million.
Taking advantage of provincial and federal subsidies relating to transit development was set out as a way to offset the costs of building the complex.
Andlauer suggested that bus transit could be expanded with a new parking garage to include a partnership with Metrolinx to provide parking for Mountain resident to access the West Harbour GO Station.
When it came time for the committee to ask Andlauer questions, many councillors raised concerns over Andlauer’s commitment to keeping hockey in Hamilton even if they don’t adopt Andlauer and CF’s proposal.
“If Lime Ridge goes south,” councillor Jason Farr was the first ask. “Will Michael Andlauer still participate in a downtown [entertainment] precinct?”
Referencing an appreciation for the modern fan experience, Andlauer said: “If it’s going to take ten years, then no.”
Other concerns surrounded the fact that municipal funds would be invested in a project on a privately-owned property as well as fears of traffic congestion and that the Lime Ridge plan wouldn’t accommodate the housing and affordable housing capacity laid out in the city’s secondary plan as it pertains to the downtown precinct.