Is the GFL Getting More Box Seating?

GFL Sign Unveiling
Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline

City Council will be asked to review alternatives for suite expansion at GFL Memorial Gardens during Monday evening’s meeting.

This comes after a resolution to bring forward a plan to develop the additional box seats at the GFL Memorial Gardens and investigate other potential sources of funding during a meeting on Dec. 11, 2017.

The report from that meeting states the following:

“Whereas the Essar Centre box seats have been sold out since the Essar Centre was built in 2006; and Whereas when the Essar Centre was built, additional box seats were framed in, but were not completed; and Whereas there is a waiting list for additional boxes if they are completed; and Whereas there is an opportunity with greater seating capacity to attract more sports or entertainment events; and Whereas funding may be available through provincial or federal programs to assist with the cost of completing the already-framed-in box seats;Now Therefore Be It Resolved that staff be requested to bring forward a plan to develop the additional box seats at the Essar Centre as well as investigate what other potential sources of funding may be available.”

Currently, the GFL can hold up to 5,000 for hockey games and up to 6,500 for concerts and other events.

When the GFL was constructed, it was built it phases and in a manner that would allow for suite expansion completed at a later date.

The council report reads:

“In Phase One of the construction process, 13 luxury suites with8, 9 or 10 seats in each were built. The same number of tickets available in each suite must be purchased plus and additional 4/5can be purchased per respective box.All 13 boxes and private lounge have been rented out since the opening of the facility.

Phase Two planned for the construction of an additional 11 suites. The Phase Two suites were already sold and almost included in the construction of the building but the cost became prohibitive. The money was returned to those who put down deposits and there is now a waiting list for the suites.

Phase Three of the project would have seen the addition of a further 13 suites for a total of 37 in the facility.

Construction of the Phase Two and Three suites-seats has always been based on the assumption that the cost would be fully recovered from extra seat revenues, without relying on general tax revenues. It was anticipated that NOHFC and Soo Greyhound participation in financing the project would reduce the City’s risk in proceeding.

A report to Council dated Nov. 14, 2005 for design for Phase Two and Phase Three suites was completed and sent to the contractor for pricing in September.

At the October 21, 2005 Sports and Entertainment Centre Steering Committee meeting the costs were received. Phase II suites came in at $1,657,444.00 while the cost for Phase Two and Phase Three was $3,047,234.00. Design fees of $140,000.00 were not included in the above costs. In addition, the contractor noted that the completion of the project would be extended to December 2006 as a result of implementing the extra suites.Analysis on this issue was later conducted and provided to Council at a meeting held March 31, 2008. Based on a number of factors including that the project be self-funded, a rejection from NOHFC at the time for funding and an inability to reach an agreement with the management of the Soo Greyhounds the project did not proceed at that time. City Staff have recently confirmed that the Greyhounds will not support in the sharing of ticket revenue for suite expansion but will support a revenue stream to come directly to the City in the form of a rental fee for the boxes.The Greyhounds have offered to rent on the City’s behalf leveraging their Community Corporate sponsorship partners to ensure rental utilization.”


  1. These box seats should have been put in when the building was being built. But the council of the day decided that it wouldn’t go over the budgeted amount for the project. Now it would be cost prohibitive to build them at the new projected cost. The city made a similar mistake when they built the single pad arena at the John Rhodes only to turn around and build a second pad, at a much greater cost. Save a $1, turn around and spend a $100 for the same result. Oh well, you know what they say about hindsight. It’s 20-20, 98% of the time.

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