Early in 2023, Brantford City Council approved a notice of motion for staff to develop a comprehensive plan that includes recommended location options, cost estimates encompassing both capital and operating expenses, a financing strategy, and delivery timelines for a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility in Brantford.
As the City prepares to officially welcome the Brantford Bulldogs to the newly renovated Brantford Civic Centre for their home opener on October 7, 2023, the City is also looking ahead to ways in which they can enhance the pursuit of becoming a premier destination for sports and entertainment.
Council received a report by Consultant KKR Advisors Ltd. outlining a comprehensive business case assessment for a potential state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility in Brantford during their Special Committee of the Whole meeting on September 7, 2023
The assessment includes a market overview, a comparative analysis of Ontario Hockey League (OHL) locations, evaluation of building costs and features, and an evaluation of prospective building operations.
Key findings from the report highlight Brantford’s strong economic potential:
- Brantford is poised for sustained growth and expansion with a significant increase in population, household income, and economic base. It is noteworthy that average household income has increased faster in Brantford than in any other Ontario OHL city since 2000.
- In comparison to other Ontario-based OHL cities, Brantford is expected to become the 11th largest OHL city by population by 2046.
- Brantford currently ranks eighth in median household income among OHL cities.
- Brantford has seen significant year over year growth in the number of businesses, total employment, and the total value of building permits issued in the city.
The report also underscores the potential benefits of a new sports and entertainment facility:
- The OHL has experienced stable attendance, with potential for significant growth with a new facility.
- New OHL teams that have moved into modern facilities have seen attendance increases ranging from 34% to 133%.
- The presence of a new building has consistently driven higher attendance, making it a key factor in the success of sports franchises.
The report suggests that an optimal sports and entertainment facility for Brantford would have 5,000 to 5,300 fixed seats, with a projected cost range of $115 million to $140 million (excluding land costs, parking, infrastructure improvements, and site development costs). Also highlighted in the Consultant’s presentation to members of Council was that even with the significant improvements currently being done to the Civic Centre, it will not keep an OHL team here longterm.
In terms of prospective building operations, the proposed new facility is projected to generate operating revenues of approximately $3.506 million with direct facility operating expenses of $4.175 million, resulting in an initial net operating deficit of approximately $669,000, similar to other City facilities of this size.
Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford, shared his optimism about this proposal.
“The growth Brantford has been experiencing is a critical factor in making us a feasible and attractive city for an OHL team. They want to locate in growing, not static growth cities. With that, the City has a unique chance to enhance its reputation as a leading sports destination,” said Davis. “Our Council is dedicated to making the most of this opportunity by building a top-tier sports and entertainment venue. This venue will benefit our residents and draw visitors from other areas, elevating our city’s recognition on a provincial and national scale while fostering civic pride.”
Next steps in the process include recommendations related to potential locations as well as initial architectural renditions of what the venue will look like that are expected to be shared with Council in mid October.
Public engagement to collect community input will follow in early 2024.