Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Proposed Markham arena would rival ACC

A new 20,000 seat arena for the GTA?

If Graeme Roustan has his way, such a sparkling new building could be ready for business in Markham by 2014.

Roustan, Chairman and CEO of GTA Sports and Entertainment, acknowledged on Tuesday that “we’re looking forward to bringing our official proposal to the town of Markham in the near future.”

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti reportedly was going to update Markham council during a private session of a meeting on Tuesday night.

Town councillors are aware of the project but have been publicly muzzled after signing non-disclosure agreements.

The arena, which is estimated to cost $300 million, would be part of a massive project spearheaded by Roustan and Toronto-area land developer Rudy Bratty, who has an estimated net worth of $940 million. The proposed real estate venture calls for the construction of a huge entertainment and sports complex that would include the arena.

The arena would be situated west of Kennedy Rd., north of Highway 407 and west of the Unionville GO Station on land owned by Bratty.

Roustan, who also is the chairman of the Bauer hockey equipment company, insisted that the proposed arena is not predicated on wooing a second National Hockey League team to the Golden Horseshoe, claiming the building’s purpose is to supply a venue for concerts and other entertainment shows.

Whether the NHL one day decides to look at putting a second team in southern Ontario will have no bearing on whether the arena gets built, Roustan said.

“This market has clearly demostrated the need for a second world class (entertainment) facility,” Roustan told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday night. “This market certainly can support it.”

In other words, the GTA Centre, the name of the proposed arena, would provide a viable option to concert goers to the Air Canada Centre. Indeed, it is believed that show promoter Live Event already has shown interest.

Roustan, who was one of the finalists to buy the Montreal Canadiens a number of years ago before the fabled franchise was purchased by American George Gillett, claimed the arena does not need an NHL tenant to be a money-making venue.

“We’ve done a lot of research on this,” he said. “That’s why we decided to go ahead with this.

“The design of the facility is for multi-purpose usage. It has been designed to know that hockey can be played in the building. This building can support badminton, basketball and any other sports, too.”

Roustan hopes the first shovel could go into the ground by 2012.

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