New sports entertainment centre on Jan. 23 council agenda

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A majority of residents believe a new sports entertainment centre would bring about positive changes for Brantford’s economy, a survey conducted by the city says.

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“The data collected on the impact of the proposed sports and entertainment centre initiative in Brantford reveals overwhelmingly positive sentiments from the community,” a report prepared by city staff says. “With a significant 80.7 per cent expressing a positive outlook, it suggests a strong endorsement for the project.

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“One of the most noteworthy aspects of this data is the minimal negative response, standing at a mere 8.1 per cent.”

This indicates that a large majority of the surveyed individuals believe the sports and entertainment centre initiative will bring about positive changes for Brantford’s economy, the report says.

The survey was conducted on the city’s Let’s Talk Brantford (LTB) from Dec. 1, 2023 to January 5. 2024. It attracted 575 participants and 91 per cent of those who completed the survey identified as a resident of Brantford.

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Just under eight per cent of those who completed the survey were unsure of the impact the initiative would have on the economy while 3.3 per cent said it would have no impact.
The report will be presented to councillors at a Jan. 23 special council meeting scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Much of the report is based on information gathered by Ronald Bidulka, managing partner of KKR Advisors Ltd., who was hired by the city to investigate the possibility of a new sports entertainment centre.

The report calls on council to endorse the sports entertainment centre as its priority project to help CAO Brian Hutchings to prioritize resources.

As part of an implementation plan, the city will begin a request for business partnerships process in connection with the sports entertainment centre.

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The report also included a review of how 35 sports and entertainment facilities under development since 1990 across Canada were funded.

The review found that the majority of centres are publicly funded, mostly from municipal sources. Seven centres secured some level of provincial and federal funding support.

However, the Ontario and federal governments have programs the city could access to support the cost of building a new centre.

The review also found:

  • Of the 11 centres built in Ontario since 1990s, only five have secured private sector contributions through public-private partnerships. The contributions ranged between $1.5 million and $2.5 million and were based on the private sector’s perceived ability to generate a return on their investment.
  •  In cases where the private sector invested larger amounts of capital, municipalities provided guaranteed annual revenue payments structure as ice rental agreements.
  • A small number of examples exist where the resident sports team invested in and/or took on operating responsibility, limiting or eliminating any ongoing operating subsidy from the municipality, the review found.
  • Investigating the possibility of building a new sports entertainment centre capable of hosting an OHL team is part of the agreement the city reached with the Brantford Bulldogs. The agreement calls for the Bulldogs to play three seasons in the updated civic centre followed by three one-year options.
  • The city has already identified 79 Market St. as the preferred location for a new sports entertainment centre. Under the plan, the civic centre would remain and the new centre would be built beside it.

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