Barrie to explore Sadlon Arena expansion

Councillor Gary Harvey says arena expansion is needed to land larger competitions

The puck stops with Barrie city council as to whether to submit a grant application through the Ontario Community Building fund in hopes of scoring cash to expand Sadlon Arena.

On Monday, council rubberstamped a request that staff present a report before an application is handed in.

“We don’t know what the costs will be or how much money will be eligible,” said Councillor Barry Ward at a May 17 meeting of council general committee. “I am not saying it’s a good or bad idea because I can’t tell from the information we have.”

The Barrie Colts, Tourism Barrie, Curling Canada, Skate Canada and other organizations will be consulted.

Councillor Gary Harvey, who proposed the expansion, estimates the cost could run between $8 and $10 million, though he has acknowledged those numbers are a year old. He hopes a grant would cover $50 million.

Harvey has proposed a three-storey addition to the north side of the building, which would include:

  • a new grand entrance to the arena with additional multi-purpose/trade show space,
  • ticket booths, concessions, a multi-use sports bar, additional office and retail space, possibly a new home for the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame,
  • additional dressing rooms, player dining and lounge facilities, medical facilities, storage and meeting space, a media lounge and VIP lounge, a new sound system, an upgraded green room along with additional spectator seating.

Harvey has explained his reasoning for seeking an expansion noting Barrie has been unable to land large curling events, Skate Canada or the Memorial Cup because the current arena is not up to par with other facilities that are out there.

“It was a great building in 1995 when it opened up. Over the years many other municipalities around the province have created buildings that are much better,” he said.

Councillor Keenan Aylwin was the only one around the table to vote against the plan.

At a May 17 general committee meeting, Aylwin explained his opposition to a possible arena expansion.

“We have strategic priorities that we have set as a council and I think there are other projects that we are looking at that fit better into those strategic priorities. We’ve just struck a performing arts centre task force and we’ve struck a market precinct task force,” Aylwin said. “I think it’s important we let those groups do their work and come back to council with their recommendations. There may be requests for capital funding or otherwise as part of those groups.”