Puck Stops Here: Tourism Barrie Report Recommends More Than $40M Expansion Of Sadlon Arena


Courtesy Barrie 360: Ian MacLennanPublished: Mar 30th, 2023

A report by Tourism Barrie is recommending more seating, a new plaza and food court area and new team facilities as part of a $40.8 million expansion of Sadlon Arena.

The report presented to city council on Wednesday night said that the municipally-owned facility, which opened in 1995, is still relatively modern for an event centre compared to others.

“The arena is successful in its current program of events and the annual deficit from operations is lower than many comparable centres.”

The report presented several options, however, the preferred design, Option 6, recommends adding an extra 1,210 seats from the current 4,200.

“Providing for additional fixed seating at Sadlon Arena will increase the facility’s ability to host larger special events, concerns, and the like. It will likely not have significant impacts on the number of spectators that attend regular season Barrie Colts games, but it may have some impact on spectatorship at playoff times with the ability to host more fans,” the report said. “In order to grow event days and ensure relevance to the growing opportunity for major championships, tournaments, competitive/rotational bid events, and other one-off bid events, a minimum seat count is often cited as part of the hosting requirements.”

The report was frank about the lack of facilities for the Barrie Colts.

“At present, the existing building does not meet the current standards and requirements of an OHL team. Today, typical OHL facilities include more and larger dressing rooms, a larger medical area, fitness facilities, a video replay/coaches room, and larger media area/broadcast booth.”

Option 6 would also see a new entrance built, and space proposed for a hockey Hall of Fame and exhibition board.

“When the building was constructed, it was considered to be a state-of-the-art facility. Since that time, there have been replacements of building components to ensure a good state of repair, however, there have not been any major renovations over the past 27 years,” the report stated. “A balanced approach is likely the best approach to upgrading the facility. This will not translate into the cheapest capital cost solution, but it will likely promote an improvement in event hosting capacity and, with effective management, the maintenance of an acceptable operating subsidy for the venue.”

Mayor Alex Nuttall said “everything’s on the table” when it came to the future of the arena.

“If there’s a different management model, great,” he said. “If someone wants to purchase it and do a better job running it, great. I don’t have a real loyalty to any specific situation, but I know it’s good for the city to have.”

The existing facility features the following amenities:

  • An NHL size ice pad
  • 4,100 fixed stadium seats for sporting events and over 4,550 seats for concert events
  • Over 2,00 sq. ft. of exhibit space
  • 29 box suites
  • Meeting room with a capacity for about 55 people
  • Licensed restaurant with a capacity for 277 patrons, with an upper full-service lounge for an additional 100 patrons
  • Four dressing rooms (capacity of 20-25 people each)
  • Two separate officials’ rooms, with a capacity for 6 referees and 3 referees respectively
  • First aid room
  • Office, kitchen and storage space for the OHL Barrie Colts (over 5,000 sq. ft.)
  • 1,670 parking spaces on site
Patricia Dent

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