The owners of the Winnipeg Jets are part of a development consortium that could help Thunder Bay build a new waterfront arena and convention centre.
The city announced Jan. 21 that Thunder Bay LIVE!, a newly formed, project-specific consortium have the inside track to be the municipality’s new partner on a proposed 5,700-seat arena and 50,000-square-foot convention centre.
The consortium consists of True North Sports and Entertainment, Stadium Consultants International, Global Spectrum Facility Management, Lakehead University, PCL Constructors Canada and BBB Architects of Toronto.
True North Sports owns the MTS Centre arena in downtown Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets franchise, and its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in St. John’s, Nfld.
Thunder Bay city council gave the go-ahead for administration to negotiate a non-binding letter of intent toward a partnership agreement.
If built, the arena would be the new home of Lakehead University’s hockey team, but the city and consortium want to bring professional hockey to Thunder Bay in the form of an AHL franchise.
True North owner Mark Chipman told Winnipeg media that moving their AHL club to Thunder Bay is an option they are exploring. Thunder Bay is only a one-hour jet flight from Winnipeg.
In a statement, True North said: “We are well aware of the community’s rich hockey tradition and are confident that Thunder Bay would be a great location to develop our future prospects.”
Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs said the city’s review team looked over “five great proposals” before settling on Thunder Bay LIVE!’s pitch to deliver a “world-class, multi-purpose Event Centre.”
The proposed $106-million downtown facility would replace the aging Fort William Gardens, built in the early 1950s.
The city has socked away $25 million for the project, but funding from the federal and provincial government is needed to make it go.
Its location would be in the city’s north end, the business core of the former Port Arthur, which is being branded as an entertainment district. The facility would be built on a block of city-owned land next to the Prince Arthur Hotel and a stone’s throw from a redeveloped waterfront attraction known as Prince Arthur’s Landing.