One of the things I have noticed being down here in Orillia, ON that Thunder Bay doesn’t have is a dedicated area to sports. There is no one area where one can go to and do a large number of different things related to sports without having to drive around the city. Here in Orillia they have just that which works perfectly with Lakehead University – Orillia. The sports complex’s naming rights were given to the Rotary club of Canada (more likely their local chapter) and built for the residents of Orillia. It contains 2 NHL sides ice surfaces with 700 and 200 seats respectively, a rock climbing wall, 2 concession stands and a mini stick set up for the kids. Outside the arena it has a playground, 2 half sized (football field), 2 full sized fields and a fully lit tennis court. One of those full sized fields is artificial turf and rumours have been circulating that it could be domed to provide a playing surface all year long. The great thing about this venue is that it allows for multiple events to go on at the same time. Its been used by a large number of people for a large number of reasons. While the school may be taking up a football field and a rink for its own sports, the citizens are able to enjoy the other areas for their own pleasure. It creates a space where people are able to have fun and intermingle. The closest thing that Thunder Bay currently has is the Port Arthur Arena, Complex area but those venues don’t come together as well because its divided by a roadway. On the south side the best venue is Delaney and The Legion track and again there isn’t a cohesion between the two venues. So I decided to come up with a design that could help Thunder Bay build that community center it desperately needs to have a true sports complex. A space that everyone can enjoy and is pedestrian friendly first, car second. This is what the area currently looks like.
Editors Note: There is a slight design error with the way High St. connects to Beverly and Memorial. In actuality it wouldn’t come that far without major changes to the surrounding area and this was a design flaw. Beverly in the design should still go straight to Memorial but High street wouldn’t.
Here is my final design for the area. I’ll explain the different areas in detail. This is designed to be pedestrian friendly and make the area a walkable space. Make it friendly to the people who will use the facilities and make it a space that people can come to enjoy.
Phase 1 of this plan would involve purchasing properties, tearing down buildings and relocating infrastructure. One of the first things that would be necessary to accomplish this vision would be to purchase the homes along High Street between Lisqar and Inchquin St. these homes would be torn down and replaced with a parking lot to service the baseball diamond and the new arena. Some parking would be lost by the Community Auditorium to make space for a new soccer/football venues. Port Arthur Arena would be torn down and replaced in its current spot as a double padded ice surface with more seating. The arena would need to be torn down in order to have enough room for the second sheet of ice and the extra spectator/vendor space without encroaching on green space. Winnipeg avenue would be turned into a plaza style walkway with access too all of the buildings and facilities. The Baseball diamond would be torn down an replaced as well which would leave 2 more on the site. An investment into making the other 2 better quality would need to occur in order to make up for the lose field. The dog park would be torn down as the land would be used for other purposes.
Phase 2 would involve relocating the parking lot beside Port Arthur arena to its new location closer to High St. It would also involve the construction of the new Port Arthur arena with 2 sheets of ice and increased spectator seating. It would be based on the Rotary Place in Orillia but would be slightly different in size and design. The Rotary Place having come in at 27 million (2010) it would be easy to guess that this new rink could cost around the same. The new football fields/soccer areas would also be built in this phase but based on need could see only 1 of the 2 built right away. Both would be full sized facilities with stands holding up to 1,000 spectators and with amenities like sports boxes and a concession area. Based on the need within the community one could be left on the shelf and keep the area as a green space until such demand requires the additional facility. Port Arthur Arena would be built to a LEED: Gold status and the entire development challenged to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Phase 3 would start when construction on these facilities were substantially completed. This would include the creation of the memorial park which would be a space for memorial to fallen service men and women. A new playground close to the memorial park which would force families and children to walk through it as to always remember those who have served. It would include the creation of a new parking lot off of Beverly St. which would currently sit where Beverly runs today and include the plaza landscaping which connects the facilities. One of the more interesting features would be hook up spots which would allow street vendors to park their trailers and cook meals connected to water and propane. This would allow for a tailgating atmosphere in spring, summer and fall events in this area.
Phase 4: Final landscaping. Planting the hundreds of trees that will line the passages and walkways and make the site a truly green, clean and beautiful site. This would also see money invested into the Community Auditorium, the baseball stadium and the complex to make them more modern and appealing on both the inside and outside of the facilities. A Sports committee would also be set up with representatives from each facility to coordinate the uses of the space along with trying to bring larger, more expensive events to the area and get as much use out of the facilites as possible.
Some of the appealing aspects that could entice the city to pull of an plan like this. Adding a second sheet of ice to Port Arthur arena would allow the city to continue to meet the demand from skaters in the city but also allow it to close a expensive rink in Grandview. As it stands currently, Grandview is costing the city $500,000 annually in costs because of the state it is in. It doesn’t meet the needs of users and doesn’t help the city in attracting events like hockey tournaments. This would create another green space which would help to increase the values of homes in the area, create a new meeting space for citizens and help to divert rain water from sanitation, storm sewers. The construction alone would provide an economic stimulus to the community and could provide the area with new private investment. A city commissioned report stated that the single use facilities which the City currently runs don’t appeal to organizers of large sporting events and make it much harder to bring tournaments to the city. A multi-pad arena could help to bring in more sporting events to the city and bring in extra tourism/economic related dollars.
I could see something like this costing around 60-70 million dollars and taking about 3 years to complete (cost depending on a number of factors like a 2nd football stadium as pictured and other industry related costs) I believe it would be a benefit to the community seeing how others have adopted the idea and how it operates.
Of course this is only my idea. What do you think?