Thunder Bay’s proposed new multi-million-dollar multiplex facility will be under taxpayer scrutiny on Thursday night at the DaVinci Centre, as the city begins the first of a planned series of public consultations on a building city higher-ups hope will eventually replace the aging Fort William Gardens.
Currently the Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s hockey team is the main tenant at Fort William Gardens, averaging about 3,000 fans a game. A source close to the team said that if an OHL or AHL team arrived in Thunder Bay, it would essentially mean the end of the not-for-profit university squad.
I suppose we'll know more after the city holds its "public consulations" with somewhere between eight and eleven members of the public tonight, but at first glance it's not great news for Lakehead, one of the top draws in OUA hockey, if the new multiplex has other targets in its sight. City manager Tim Commisso said, "this is not just a hockey arena. We’re really, truly looking to position this as a multi-purpose event centre, something that is more suited (to bigger events)." Apparently they've been missing out on "concerts, rodeos and trade shows" that go to Sault Ste. Marie now or something.
One can argue that the Thunderwolves and their opponents provide better hockey than the AHL and certainly the ECHL and OHL, but that's only considering the hockey angle for the multiplex, and a little cart-before-horse at this point: the city basically admits they have no idea what kind of complex they want, who will fund it, what will go in it, or when it would be built.
Early stages, to be sure. But there are always a dozen things behind these sorts of scenes at city hall, even in a town of 100,000. Worth keeping an eye on this one.
Multiplex questions [Leith Dunick, Tbnewswatch.com]