Builders of Markham arena look familiar

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

A goalie clears away some pucks in this file photo. (Jeff McIntosh For The Globe and Mail)

The powers behind the $325-million new arena planned for Markham, Ont., plan to use the same architect and construction company that built the rival Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Graeme Roustan, the chief executive officer of Bauer Performance Sports Ltd., who is head of a private group behind the arena and entertainment complex, with backing from prominent local developer Rudy Bratty, confirmed Wednesday the 20,000-seat arena will be designed by BBB Architects, a Canadian company with offices in Toronto, Ottawa and New York, and built by PCL Constructors Canada. Both companies worked on the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which opened in February, 1999.

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“If they can’t figure out how to build an arena in Toronto, who can?” Roustan said.

BBB Architects and one of its principals, Murray Beynon, also designed several other prominent arena projects, including the nearly $1-billion (U.S.) makeover of Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Markham arena is planned for a six-acre parcel of land near Highway 407 and Kennedy Road. Roustan hopes to see it open in 2014 and play host to the 2015 world junior hockey championship.

Councillors for the City of Markham approved an arrangement under which the municipality will borrow the $325-million needed to build the arena. GTA Sports & Entertainment, the private company formed by Roustan to build and operate the arena, will pay back half of cost of the city’s loan with the other half coming from revenue from the arena and entertainment centre after it opens and from future development in Markham.

However, the arena does not have a definite green light as some hurdles remain. There are several steps of approval left and the city can pull the plug if it feels uncomfortable with the plans.

Most banking and hockey experts say the arena will not be profitable unless it lands a major tenant such as a second NHL franchise for the Greater Toronto Area. However, while Markham politicians have said they met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the possibility, Roustan has been careful to say a franchise is not part of his plan.

While some NHL governors would like to see a second team in the Toronto area, Bettman has said repeatedly there are no plans either to move an existing team or grant an expansion franchise for the region.

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