College offered to help build new arena

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McMeeken Centre

While the city waits for a final price tag for replacing the McMeeken Centre, estimated right now to be over 30 million after financing, they were previously offered assistance. Sault College had discussions with the City of Sault Ste. Marie about helping build a new arena in 2018-19.

According to the Vice President of Academics and Research Colin Kirkwood, the College proposed to have the arena built on College property.  The College participated in meetings relating to building design regardless of the location.

“There were no discussions with the City about an arena in 2020, the discussions about the mutual benefits of an arena on the Sault College campus took place in 2018 and 2019,” said Kirkwood. “City staff recommended to council on Monday, March 18, 2019 that the arena be built at the McMeeken site.”

The College submitted a letter to the city for that meeting stating many reasons they should host an arena if the city went ahead with a two arena approach instead of the twin-pad they chose to go with. They were even willing to possibly help fund the project.

“Regarding the difference in capital costs associated with two single pads vs. a twin-pad, the College is prepared to explore the possibility of securing funding that may be available to academic institutions but not to a municipality for an arena project that has an experiential learning element embedded in the operating design,” states the letter to council.

Currently budgeted for $27.5 million dollars, the plan right now is for the city to violate their own rules and fund 100 per cent of the cost via a loan.

The College offered to draw up a shared services arrangement which could reduce the operating cost. It pointed out the many reasons why the city should go with the plan. In the end the city choose the twin-pad option.

As it stands right now, the project is out in the RFP process. Final decision on if it will be built during the summer of 2022, should be made around May of this year.

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The full letter can be seen below.