Sudbury Arena falls under scrutiny following blackout
The Sudbury Arena has been a part of the Elgin Street landscape for the past 61 years and there's some who say it's time for a change.
On Sept. 14, an afternoon power outage in the downtown area affected the arena, delaying an OHL pre-season game between the Sudbury Wolves and Soo Greyhounds by half an hour that evening. While the blackout was not limited to the arena alone, it did generate a response from Sudbury Wolves general manager Blaine Smith, concerning the condition of the "aging" facility.
"There aren't too many of these old rinks still standing in the province," Smith said. "There is a reason why the City of Kingston and the City of Sault Ste. Marie recently built new facilities after suffering through regular power outages and other problems at their old rinks.
"The arena staff have done a remarkable job of keeping this arena going for as long as it has and keeping the facility in as good a state of repair that it is in. However, as the main tenant, we see the arena getting 'long in the tooth' and we can see these types of problems becoming more commonplace with 60-year-old electrical wiring, a leaky roof, drainage issues, dampness and numerous other issues that we see on a regular basis.
"We remain hopeful that the City of Greater Sudbury will begin to make plans for a new hockey facility like other OHL centres have done and provide a more enjoyable environment to better serve the hockey and entertainment fans of Sudbury and northeastern Ontario."
Sudbury's arena is among the oldest facilities being used in the OHL, along with the rinks in Peterborough, Erie, Saginaw and Owen Sound.
However, the city's manager of arenas said there are no plans for a new barn anytime in the near future.
"There's been issues you would expect from a 61-year-old building but nothing major," Ray Mensour said.
Later this year, Mensour said he will be presenting an arena renewal strategy to city council, which will analyze the current state of all the local arenas, including the Sudbury Arena.
"Certainly we'd love to have a new facility, and it would help attract even more concerts, but council will have to make the decision whether to renovate existing or spend money on new," Mensour said.
In the last 10 years, the Sudbury Arena has undergone a number of upgrades, including new stairwells, a renovated lobby and club suite area, new flooring in the dressing rooms and, most recently, council has approved new lighting for the facility, which will be installed later this year.
"Anyone who uses the facility definitely wants a new one, but we're biased," Mensour said. "It's those who don't use the arena that don't want money spent on it. That's the debate council will have to have."