Thunder Bay’s journey toward building a new arena and convention hall has passed another milestone with city council’s ratification of a letter of intent (LOI) with its development consortium partner.
The non-binding document with Thunder Bay Live! was signed over the winter, but needed council ratification which was granted May 12.
The consortium consists of True North Sports and Entertainment, Stadium Consultants International, Global Spectrum Facility Management, Lakehead University, PCL Contractors Canada and BBB Architects of Toronto.
True North Sport owns Winnipeg’s MTS Centre Arena, the Winnipeg Jets, and its American Hockey League affiliate in St. John’s, N.L., which would presumably be relocated to Thunder Bay should a new arena be built.
The city and the developers are in the midst of a feasibility study for a proposed 5,700-seat arena and 50,000-square-foot convention centre, known as the Event or the Multiplex.
The initial estimated price tag is $106 million.
“This letter of intent is an important step and phase three is moving forward well,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs in a news release. “Council looks forward to a full status report coming back in August.”
With council’s blessing, the city can proceed with the next steps in the process including the project’s schematic design toward reaching a final price and preparation of a business plan. The package will be used for apply for funding from the province and Ottawa.
“It’s important to note though, that even with an LOI to define how we work together, there is no guarantee on either side,” said project lead Michael Smith, the city’s general manager of facilities, fleet and transit services.
“It is non-binding. The remaining pieces, including funding, need to be in place and Council has made no final decisions.”
Thunder Bay Live! spokesman Gary Green expressed excitement in moving onto the next steps, including another round of public hearings.
“We’ve said from the beginning that Thunder Bay is a very attractive market with real economic development opportunities. Having the LOI in place means we can continue to move the project ahead. We are excited to be a part of the ongoing transformation of the city through a world-class event and convention centre that is unique to Thunder Bay.”