Balsillie announces plans to renovate Copps Coliseum Staff

5/29/2009 3:26:28 PM

Jim Balsillie has announced the renovation plans for Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.

The project would see the arena updated with fan friendly features, new restaurants, food and bar amenities and a capacity for over 18,000. According to a media release, the update would also fully address all of the National Hockey League's previously stated requirements for Copps Coliseum.

"A new team for the best new hockey market deserves spectacular new home ice, and that's exactly what the upgraded Copps Coliseum would offer," said Balsillie in the release. "This facility will deliver unparalleled excitement and bring fans closer than ever to the action."

The new design comes from BBB Architects and its subsidiary group, Stadium Consultants International (SCI). They are currently working on projects at Madison Square Garden and Nassau County Coliseum. The two companies also designed Air Canada Centre and GM Place.

Highlights of the renovation project include:

- New atrium-style lobby with major ticketing area and new street-level retail
- New main concourse with new finishes throughout and direct access to lower seating bowl
- New Club Lounge and Club Seating Section
- 50 Mid-Level Private Suites and 20 new 'Bunker Suites' with prime seats in first six rows 'between the blue lines'
- Four Group Suites at mid-level plus Group Sales/Party Deck in upper seating bowl
- New home and visitor locker rooms
- All new rink surface, ice plant and climate control systems
- All new upholstered seating throughout

"When completed, the BBB Renovation Plan will transform Copps Coliseum into a first class professional sports and entertainment facility, which will in turn promote a first class experience for visitors through the redesign and transformation of the building," said Chris O'Reilly, Principal with BBB Architects.

"This would be a jaw-dropper of an attraction for Hamilton," said Hamilton mayor, Fred Eisenberger. "What I've seen would make the new Copps Coliseum a magnet for sports fans and concert-goers across Ontario and North America. It would be a tremendous new asset for our city, and a major part of the revitalization of downtown Hamilton."

According to the release, the estimated cost of the renovation is $150 million (2007 dollars - the year the last estimate was calculated), but it could change significantly due various factors.

The Hamilton Spectator reports Balsillie has said he will sign a lease of up to 32 years and provide additional money for the renovation project, the rest of the funds would likely come from government sources.

"It'd be premature at this point to talk about funding for Copps Coliseum. However, the premier continues to be supportive of bringing a hockey team to southern Ontario, " said Karman Wong, spokesperson for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, to the Canadian Press.

Balsillie is currently waiting on the outcome of bankruptcy court proceedings in Arizona regarding the Phoenix Coyotes. Balsillie has made a US$212.5-million offer for the franchise under the condition he can relocate the team to Southern Ontario.

On Wednesday, Judge Redfield Baum scheduled a hearing for June 9 where he will hear arguments for and against the potential relocation.