Mayor Darrin Canniff Talks Arena Decisions, Says Building New Is Best Option

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff released a video this week explaining the four options Chatham-Kent council will examine in relation to a new arena and sports complex for the Municipality.

“I would really like to kind of try to simplify for everyone what council is looking at over the next little while as far as a decision on an arena,” Canniff said in the video, stating there are four options for arenas.

Option one involved doing nothing to Memorial and Erickson Arena’s other than maintain them as is.

“Not a feasible option, eventually, these facilities are past their prime, we need to do something about them,” said Canniff.

Option two was to renovate Erickson and Memorial Arena’s, a plan Canniff estimated would cost roughly $12 million.

“We’ll take them, we’ll spruce them up some, they’ll have some more life to them,” he stated.

Option three is to build a new facility with Federal and Provincial funding. Canniff’s current estimate is 73% covered by other levels of government, and 27% covered by Chatham-Kent and private sponsors. In the video, Canniff states this option would cost the Municipality around $12.2 million to build a $60 million facility (assuming the Municipality could get $4 million in sponsors).

Option four is go it alone with the Municipal taxpayer footing the bill.

“Why we’ve been taking so long making the decision on an arena, is because option three is by far the best option and we’ve been waiting on Federal-Provincial funding,” said Canniff. “The good news is I strongly believe that this year there will be opportunities to acquire Federal-Provincial funding. We’d have to apply for it and compete against other communities, but it’s out there, it’s a great opportunity.”

Although Canniff strongly feels option three, a new sports complex featuring a twin-pad arena, is the best option, he said there are other considerations than cost, which will also need to be dealt with.

“Other decisions we’d have to make once we decide, if we decide to build, is location of where it’s going to go, the size of it, the amenities it will include,” he said.

Finally, Canniff concluded saying this would not simply be an arena, but a sports complex featuring many uses.

“We’re looking at not just a hockey arena, we’re looking at a sports complex.”

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