By Matthew Coutts, CTV Toronto
A site plan application for the GTA Centre was released by GTA Sports and Entertainment alongside city officials at a press conference on Wednesday.
“This is going to be a dynamic centre in our emerging downtown,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti told reporters at the press conference.
“It is a great building, one that will have prominence off Highway 407. Certainly you will know you have arrived in downtown Markham when you see a facility like this.”
The design of the massive arena shows a rounded entertainment centre with a glowing greenish-blue roof and a headline ticker running above the building’s entrances.
The building will also meet all the environmental requirements requested of downtown Markham developments and will be capable of facilitating solar roof development in the future.
GTA Sports and Entertainment head Graeme Roustan said the design is based largely on community input, and he promoted the arena as a “by the people, for the people” initiative.
“It has been a long road to get to this point, but there is a lot more to do ahead of us,” Roustan said Wednesday. “What we are submitting today is really a vision of this facility that is really special.”
The formal application allows the city to officially examine the design of the building and measure the plan’s sustainability and affordability.
Scarpitti said city staff will need to review the site plan application before approving a building permit and allowing construction to begin on the $325-million venue.
Markham council voted for financial framework to build the 20,000-seat sports and entertainment centre in April, and approved a site at the Unionville GO Station, north of Highway 407 near Kennedy Road.
Under the financial framework, developer Rudy Bratty will give the town of Markham six acres to build the arena near Unionville GO station.
The cost will be split between private investors and the local development community, but the complex would be owned entirely by the City of Markham.
“As we said, this has always been a commercial venture. It has to work, but this is going to be different than other facilities across the country as it will be open and accessible to the public for various community activities,” Scarpitti said.
Roustan will provide $162 million, half the cost of the arena, and then turn the facility over to the town, which would finance the other half through levies, ticket sales, parking revenue and rent money as the town leases the building.
Roustan has touted the facility as an ideal location for concerts, sporting and cultural events, as well as trade shows and community gatherings.
Its proximity to Toronto could make it a direct competitor to the downtown Air Canada Centre for trade shows and concerts in the area.
Second NHL team for the GTA?
While construction of the hockey arena and entertainment centre does not rely on hosting an NHL team, there is speculation that the arena could be used to lure a second franchise to the Toronto area in the future.
According to the proposal, the GTA Centre would create 600 construction jobs over the next two years and 886 positions once the arena is complete. It would also give the local economy an estimated $61.1 million boost annually.
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