By Kelly Louiseize
Studies show it is difficult make a go of any convention centre regardless of the population unless it is funded by the municipal government, says Doug Nadorozny, general manager of economic development and planning services for the City of Greater Sudbury.
But is it possible?
"Yes I think it can be viable," Nadoronzy says.
"When you look at the downstream contribution of the conventions. A convention centre is viable."
Whether the city should support the venture knowing full well it would be losing money on its own, but would be working toward a larger cause, is another question, Nadorozny states.
This is the reason why the city is interested in partnering up with Vista Hospitality, the new owners of the downtown City Centre mall, to develop a new convention centre for the city. He says if the city is serious about wanting a convention centre, then it would be far better to partner up with someone in the private sector.
"(Vista) can take the bulk of the risk, while the city can be the grease to make it happen, " he says.
A feasibility study has been conducted to determine if there is a possible market for large-scale events; not only for the city centre, but also for Sudbury in general.
"The study could have been a little more detailed and a little more in depth in terms of the impact, particularly on other venues in the city."
Feedback from the study did show support for large-scale events like sporting and trade shows or mining conventions.
"There is a cross-section of events we would go after to try and recruit," he says.
But that does not sit well with some other businesses in the community. In a meeting with representatives from the tourism industry, some individuals voiced concerns about the vacancy of the centre in the first few years as it attempts to become viable.
"They see us with a lot of capacity already to hold hockey banquets, weddings and frankly they are concerned that a city-sponsored facility would end up competing," Nadorozny says.
Representatives are worried the convention centre may take business away from already existing facilities, he says.
Ultimately it depends on whether one will offset the other. Hosting large events, which could potentially draw visitors to the area thereby securing hotel, restaurant and tourist facilities could open a new gateway for the local community.