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Brantford enters phase three for new sports and entertainment centre

Dena Fehir
Brantford enters phase three for new sports and entertainment centre
CITY OF BRANTFORD — Shown is an illustrative rendering of a potential new downtown sports and entertainment centre for Brantford, Ont. Recently, city council invited responses for partnerships in the next phase of the development.

Brantford City Council recently invited responses for partnerships in the next phase of development for a new, downtown sports and entertainment centre (SEC).

Endorsing the development as a priority project, council recognized the crucial contribution that the private sector can make in realizing the full potential of the project.

As a result, it launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) process for Sports Entertainment Centre Business Partnerships.

This can be found on the City of Brantford Bids and Tenders online portal in its effort to seek private sector involvement in the development, financing, operations and management of the new facility.

“This project is not just about a sports and entertainment centre,” says Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis. “It’s about building a vibrant and thriving community, anchored by the city’s downtown.”

The facility will be the new home to the Brantford Bulldogs OHL team, who currently play at the 2,952-seat Brantford and District Civic Centre at 79 Market St. S., the site of the proposed new venue.

The team left their Hamilton home ice for Brantford in 2023 due to the impending renovations and thus, long-term closure of Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre.

Team owner Michael Andlauer welcomes the potential 5,000 seat venue and said in a news release, “Brantford has exceeded my expectations. The fans are fantastic and have shown us tremendous support from day one. The warm welcome, and obvious enthusiasm for the Bulldogs has meant a lot to the team and to me personally. I appreciate and support all of the city’s efforts, including their commitment to evaluate the feasibility of a new sports and entertainment centre. I can unequivocally state that if council commits to building this facility, I will commit the Brantford Bulldogs to playing here in Brantford for the long term.”

According to the City of Brantford website, the development has a “projected total direct economic impact of $7.6 million GDP annually.”

To facilitate raising capital for the SEC, the opportunity also identifies a series of city-owned properties within close proximity that the city is prepared to market as part of a potential partnership offering or arrangement to third party developers or investors.

These property sales will be considered by the city and council on an individual basis and will only be approved accompanied by a strong case.

The EOI also identifies the type of entities with whom the city could partner with to acquire the naming rights to the facility, and to acquire selected municipally-owned properties located in the downtown.

The goal is to secure financial contributions to assist in paying for all or a significant portion of the capital costs of the SEC, for which there is no budget to date.

Brantford City Council has directed staff to begin completion of preparatory site due diligence to understand and document potential issues associated with developing the facility on the Civic Centre site.

Responses to the city’s solicitation of business partnerships are expected in early May.

Following a detailed review of the responses, city staff will seek direction from council on next steps. This may include entering into direct negotiations to secure a beneficial business partnership to move forward. Interested parties are encouraged to register and submit a response at:

A decision regarding whether or not to formally proceed with the plan is expected later this year.

If approved, an RFP process to engage an architectural firm would likely take place in early 2025. 

“We see this initiative as a catalyst for economic growth and community pride. It’s not just about constructing a building and it’s not just about sports and entertainment; it’s about laying the foundation for a vibrant community hub. We welcome the expertise and resources of our private sector partners to create something truly exceptional together,” said Maria Visocchi, director, of communications, community engagement and customer service with the city.

A decision regarding whether or not to formally proceed with the project is expected in late 2024, and if approved, the new facility could break ground as early as 2025 and open in 2027.

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