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New Sudbury arena will spark downtown 'rejuvenation,' says Wolves owner

New events venue will create 'splash' that will generate a 'tidal wave of cleanup' in the city's core
Sudbury Wolves Sports and Entertainment CEO Dario Zulich, pictured during a media event earlier this year, is celebrating this week’s news that Greater Sudbury city council unanimously supported a $200-million new-build arena in Downtown Sudbury.

In the 1984 movie, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, a powerful terraforming device called Genesis is dropped on a desolate planet, causing it to explode with life.

Greater Sudbury city council’s unanimous decision last week to proceed with a new $200-million arena/events centre will have a similar effect on Downtown Sudbury.

So described Sudbury Wolves Sports and Entertainment CEO Dario Zulich in a recent conversation with

“It’s going to make such a splash downtown that it will create a tidal wave of cleanup all the way down Elgin Street, Durham, Cedar, Larch — everywhere,” he said.

Anticipating an influx of hundreds of thousands of additional people downtown, Zulich said the city’s historic core will become “that vibrant social hub that everyone wants to see,” and the project will spark a “rejuvenation of our downtown.”

Zulich’s company owns the Sudbury Wolves hockey team and Sudbury Five basketball team, which are poised to become anchor tenants of the upcoming arena/events centre.

All 13 members of city council voted to greenlight a new-build $200-million arena/events centre in Downtown Sudbury.

The events centre project is expected to be a conventional design-bid-build, which under its current projected timeline will open by April 2028.

The city’s elected officials had considered renovating the existing Sudbury Community Arena, but at more than 70 years of age, it is in a condition and antiquated configuration that refurbishing it would have been roughly the same cost as building new.

Further, Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects founder Murray Beynon told city council that a renovation would not meet all of city council’s expectations, which a new build would.

“People in Sudbury don’t know what they’re missing,” Zulich said, adding that having visited various arenas outside of the Nickel City, he has seen far superior spaces than Sudbury’s aging facility.

Lacking modern accessibility features and amenities which both event-goers and concert promoters have come to expect, the Sudbury Community Arena doesn’t attract as many events and the size of crowds a new centre will be able to, he said. 

“There's going to be, in a new event centre, levels of service that attract a different socioeconomic level of fan,” Zulich said. “It’s just going to be a different experience for a whole new demographic of people.”

Coupled with the development of ancillary services on neighbouring city-owned land and economic benefits throughout the downtown core, Zulich said the project “is going to change our city.”

“This facility will be the crown jewel of all arenas in the OHL and CHL, setting the gold standard for decades to come,” he said. 

Downtown Sudbury BIA co-chair Jeff MacIntyre echoed this sentiment in conversation with

This week’s city council decision “puts some confidence in the market,” he said. “We’re working with entrepreneurs trying to find spaces around the arena right now.”

When a past city council voted in 2017 to locate the new arena/events centre on The Kingsway and not downtown, there were developers waiting in the wings who fell by the wayside,” MacIntyre said.

Since that time, that project (called the Kingsway Entertainment District) was cancelled by city council and the project shifted back to downtown, where the city has already spent more than $20 million on procuring properties and demolishing buildings.

Along the way, developers’ confidence in Downtown Sudbury has been returning, and MacIntyre said this week’s unanimous vote of city council sealed the deal.

“Some pretty cool projects” which disappeared when The Kingsway location was selected are anticipated to return, he said, adding, “We’re starting to get phone calls again and people wanting to talk about the programs that are available downtown to build.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for