The search is on for a location for the 6,000 seat multiplex.

Here’s an article I found at the CHECK news website. I remember about two years ago when they started to try to garner community support for this project by distributing printed material around town and it certainly looks like things have gone well for the cause. Personally, I’m not sure if we need such a large multiplex considering the number of similar (albeit smaller) centres we have around Nanaimo, but I think that if we were to do it, it would be a great idea to try to find a spot somewhere downtown.

In my mind it would be a perfect way to further the synergy of the new conference centre, the port theatre, the waterfront park, the restaurants and shops, coach lines station, train station, the new communtiy theater that is yet to open, all the new condos and etc in the downtown area. The resurgence of downtown is something I have long been behind as I have felt that it was exactly what this town needs to go on to the next level of being a place of idylic lifestyle.

Nanaimo loves sports, so I’m sure there’s support for this sort of thing in the community. Our close proximity to Vancouver (and thus the international airport which is only 20 minutes away itself by float plane, as is downtown Vancouver) would in my eyes possibly give Nanaimo the potential as a cheaper venue for concerts and sports events that aren’t quite on the scale required to make money in the big pricey city just across the water.

Ryan Coffey

Council begins search for multiplex location

Downtown facility will be large enough to seat 6,000 sports fans or concertgoers

Darrell Bellaart
Daily News
Nanaimo City Coun. Larry McNabb prefers a downtown location for a sports and entertainment centre in the city.
Nanaimo City Coun. Larry McNabb prefers a downtown location for a sports and entertainment centre in the city.

The search for the best site for a sports and recreation multiplex is about to start.

City staff plan to issue a request for proposals next month for an architect or urban planning firm to shortlist the best downtown sites for a multiplex large enough to seat 5,000 to 6,000 hockey fans or concertgoers.

Some see it as the next step in diversifying Nanaimo’s economy, since it would allow a Western Hockey League franchise, while ramping Nanaimo up a rung or two on the trade show and concert circuit.

City council recently directed city hall staff to start the search about six weeks ago.

Coun. Larry McNabb prefers a downtown location because it carries forward the push for downtown revitalization started with the Port of Nanaimo Centre.

A report to council Monday lays out the criteria the consultant would be required to follow in that search

"Part of it is to do a bit more of a thorough review, and I guess an unbiased review," said Maurice Mauch, city construction project manager.

"I guess part of it is with any consultant, hopefully they will look at it with open eyes to see everything that is available, rather than just staff or what council directs them to, they’re going to go and have a look at it, I think, with a fresh set of eyes."

The goal is to find sites that meet downtown urban planning guidelines, are suitable to host trade shows that would complement the Port of Nanaimo Centre, meet safety and security needs, be accessible to pedestrians and have ample parking. Sites would also be rated for their transportation impact, site servicing and improvement costs and ease of acquisition and assembly.

The request is expected to go out July 4, with an Aug. 11 closing date. A draft report would be expected in November and a final report would be expected Jan. 16, 2009.

Any bidder would be required to disclose any connection to a city councillor or a member of council within the previous six months.

Last year the company that owns the Clippers hockey team submitted a $45-million proposal to build a multiplex at Beban Park. Coun. Bill Bestwick owns a share in that company.

But Mauch said there is "nothing nefarious" in including the disclosure condition in the bidding process.

"That’s in all our requests for proposals, that’s just a boilerplate that we put in there," Mauch said.

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