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Brantford to explore building new OHL-sized arena for Bulldogs


The upcoming relocation of the Bulldogs from Hamilton is supposed to be temporary but city council talked Tuesday night about building a new OHL-sized arena.

The discussion follows what council called a tremendous response to season ticket sales. Council said the sale of 2,400 season tickets so far for the Bulldogs’ upcoming season is part of the reason they believe they can build a new arena and keep a team permanently.

“The city is to consider throughout this term a future development of a new sports and entertainment facility capable of seating 5,000 spectators for hockey games and capable of being a home arena for an OHL franchise,” said Councillor Dan McCreary at the council meeting.

Tuesday night’s discussion comes just weeks after the Bulldogs’ first practice at the Brantford Civic Centre.

“We’ve seen the tremendous support from our community to embrace OHL hockey once again which has been absent below this many decades from the Civic Centre,” said McCreary.

The OHL team is preparing to relocate to Brantford from Hamilton this fall for at least three years. The Mayor hopes a solid plan for a new arena can convince them to stay permanently.

“We'll have the information in the fall that'll allow us to make decisions to demonstrate to the OHL and to the Bulldogs’ ownership group that we're serious about keeping them here and not just for three years,” said Mayor Kevin Davis.

Many on council feel the Civic Centre just won’t cut it for a longer-term OHL plan.

”It’s not really capable of supporting the class or calibre of hockey that OHL will provide this community,” said McCreary.

“If history repeats itself, which it usually does, the Hamilton Bulldogs will be hoisting a OHL Championship trophy in our town so just a thought process to think that maybe we need to make it a little bigger than make it a little smaller,” added Councillor Gino Caputo.

The vote in favour of a new arena was unanimous. City staff will now work on recommending a location, a cost and a timeline and report back to council by Dec. 31.

Council hopes the Bulldogs’ first games in Brantford this fall will also boost the vision.

“I believe that when we see as this progresses and as we see the strength of the community in that arena, that’s going to give us all the answers that we need whether we can sustain this or not,” said Councillor Brian Van Tilborg.

One councillor said it could take around three years to build a new arena. As for the odds of the Bulldogs staying in Brantford permanently, the team’s current owner is on the record saying that “the OHL belongs in Brantford”. Top Stories

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