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‘Change in direction’ still possible for indoor turf facility: councillor

By CJ Goater May 31, 2024 | 12:11 PM

Photo of Councillors Agarwal, Bentz, Pasqualino, Ch'ng and Zussino - Acadia File Photo

You still have time to provide input on city council’s decision to move forward with the indoor turf facility.

The decision is set to be ratified on Monday at city council.

“I welcome all citizens to reach out to Councillors prior to June 3 to express your views, whether they be for or against the current plan, so that all points of view are heard before a final decision is made,” At-Large Councillor Mark Bentz says in a letter to Acadia Broadcasting.

The city ran a survey to gauge public interest in a new facility and results indicated interest, although there were only 991 respondents.

Bentz’s main concern for the facility is cost.

“The $53 million cost is comprised of $38 million for the structure, $5.5 million for site work and $9.7 million in interest costs. An air-supported structure can be built for less than half of this cost,” he wrote.

Thunder Bay was previously home to an air-supported structure called Sports Dome which was lost to a winter storm in 2016, but Bentz weighed the risk versus the benefit.

“For anyone doubting the feasibility of an air-supported structure, just look to North Bay which is currently building an 85,000 sq. ft. facility for under $10 million that includes significant provincial funding. While there are some disadvantages to an air-supported structure, there could be significant cost benefits to using this type of structure to meet our current needs.”

He cited overall savings, eliminating the need for a loan, and increased feasibility for private sector partnerships as the main benefits an alternative facility could provide.

The full letter can be found below:

Mark Bentz letter to Acadia Broadcasting