North Surrey stadium shelved

City not willing to take on risk of operational losses

A plan to build a 5,000-seat spectator arena in North Surrey has been shelved after two promising proponents failed to meet city expectations.

The plan to build the stadium came as part of the city’s initiative to move two ice rinks from the North Surrey Recreation Centre (at 135 Street and 102 Avenue) to Bridgeview near 130 Street and 110 Avenue. That plan is still in the works.

In mid-June last year, Surrey sent out expressions of interest for a company to build a spectator arena at the Bridgeview site as well.

The city says both sheets of ice and a spectator arena can fit on the 5.7-hectare (14-acre) parcel of property.

But the current stadium proposal has been shelved, according to Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne.

The city had two promising proponents it was working with, but Hayne said Surrey was unwilling to be responsible for construction costs or operational losses.

Such a risk was taken by the City of Abbotsford, where taxpayers ended up being on the hook for about $12.7 million as part of a 10-year supply fee agreement signed with the Calgary Flames in 2009.

The city had built a 7,000-seat arena that was home to the Flames’ affiliate the Abbotsford Heat, but attendance never met expectations.

“The bottom line is, the (City of Surrey) is not willing to take on that level of risk on its own,” Hayne said. “So, that’s the reason we are shelving (the stadium) for now.”

Hayne would not say who the stadium proponents were, but it’s widely been believed that the Vancouver Giants had been looking at locating here.

The team averages crowds of about 5,000, and has seen turnouts of almost double that.

Contacted by The Leader Monday, the Vancouver Giants declined comment.

Hayne stressed the city’s interest in having a facility at the Bridgeview site is very much alive.

If the right proponent comes with an acceptable deal, the city will give it a close look, he said.

In the meantime, the two sheets of ice at the existing North Surrey Recreation Centre will remain operational until the new sheets can be used.

There are no plans to move the existing pool or gymnasium from the North Surrey Recreation Centre. Surrey has budgeted $45 million for 2015-16 to construct the two sheets of ice at the new location.

Hayne said there will still be room at the location for a spectator arena should the right deal come along.

– with files from The Abbotsford News


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