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Downtown Sudbury arena/events centre slated to open by May 2028

The City of Greater Sudbury has released an updated schedule for the $200-million downtown venue
Tom Davies Square is seen from a hill overlooking Sudbury’s downtown core.

The $200-million arena/events centre slated to take shape in downtown Sudbury is currently on schedule for a May 2028 grand opening.

This updated schedule was posted online this week as part of the July 9 city council meeting agenda, and includes various project milestones along the path toward its completion.

The new building’s construction is expected to begin in March 2026.

During the July 9 meeting, city council will decide whether to award a $200,000 single-source contract to KKR Advisors Ltd. to select a location “that will maximize adjacent economic development opportunities.” The advisors will also negotiate facility-use agreements “using its unique market knowledge and market solicitations required to procure a venue operator.”

The city has purchased a swath of downtown land in recent months, and now owns the entire block the Sudbury Community Arena is situated on, as well as two blocks to the east up to Shaughnessy Street. The city also owns the southern portion of the block on which the Sudbury Theatre Centre stands, much of the block to its south, and the entire triangular block to its southwest.

Most of the buildings on these lands are slated to be demolished.

City council has not made a final decision on the existing Sudbury Community Arena, which is en route to slip to poor condition by next year. The new arena/events centre is slated to replace it.

Pending council’s July 9 decision, KKR Advisors would “explore adjacent economic development opportunities” around the arena/events centre site, which “includes market soundings with local and other real estate developers and investors to discuss prospective economic development opportunities associated with the event centre.”

KKR Advisors Ltd. managing director Ron Bidulka has been involved in the city’s events centre efforts since 2016, when he was lead consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Their feasibility and business case assessment for an arena/events centre was accepted by city council on March 7, 2017.

Bidulka’s past work for the city also included evaluating and recommending a site for the new events centre (a property on The Kingsway, for what would have been called the Kingsway Entertainment District), complete a request for proposals for an event centre operator and negotiate key lease terms with the Sudbury Wolves. The municipal report tabled by city Growth and Infrastructure general manager Tony Cecutti clarified that all of these tasks were completed on time and on budget.

The Kingsway Entertainment District was cancelled by city council in 2022, whose members also decided to select a downtown location, which goes against the PricewaterhouseCoopers recommendation that it be situated on The Kingsway.

Bidulka has advised on the development, financing, tenancy arrangements and operating arrangements of more than $7 billion in new, planned and proposed recreational and entertainment facilities, according to Cecutti’s report, including 23 Canadian Hockey League and three National Hockey League arenas.

If selected, Bidulka and KKR Advisors Ltd. will also prepare a desktop traffic study and a desktop geotechnical review of all previous reports to identify potential concerns.

They will also update their venue operator request for proposals to reflect the arena/events centre’s new location. Last time around (for the Kingsway Entertainment District), two firms were shortlisted for venue operator services through the city’s request for pre-qualification, including California-based ASM Global and Pennsylvania-based OVG Facilities LLC

Assuming city council continues rolling out the plan as scheduled, the following is an updated timeline of how the city’s $200-million arena/events centre will roll out.

  • April 2024: City council greenlights the $200-million arena
  • September 2024: Award architectural services request for proposal
  • December 2024: Identify venue operator
  • January 2025: Select event centre site
  • June 2025: Design and cost approval
  • March 2026: Award construction contract
  • May 2028: Grand opening

Although billed as a $200-million project, the city’s to-date projected expenditure is $225 million. This includes $90 million already borrowed (of which $20.42 million has been spent on downtown properties and $4.38-million was spent on the Kingsway Entertainment District), and an additional $135 million of additional borrowing city council approved earlier this year.

The final design and cost approval will firm up the total expenditure in June 2025. 

The open session of the July 9 city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. It can be viewed in-person at Tom Davies Square or live-streamed by by clicking here.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for