A new player has emerged in Cambridge’s years-long battle to find a suitable site for a new athletic facility.

The multiplex, which is currently estimated to cost between $75 million and $80 million to build, was first expected to be located on Conestoga College lands near the Cambridge/Kitchener border.

An outcry focused mainly on the college’s location on the edge of town led to the city considering several other sites.

Suddenly, less than two weeks before a meeting on the issue, another contender has emerged – the Cambridge Centre shopping mall.

“We’re very excited about working with council … to see if we can gauge a strategic fit for the multiplex to be located here,” Monique Marceau, the mall’s general manager, said Thursday.

Doug Craig says he sees multiple benefits to locating the multiplex at the mall, including its central location. He also thinks the partnership makes sense for the mall, given it would bring more people to the site.

“We’re both very excited about the outcomes and the possibilities,” he said.

Greg Durocher of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce says the mall was initially approached last year about potential involvement. The departure of Sears, one of its largest tenants, made the idea seem more possible.

“That’s a big space to have to fill up,” Durocher said.

A vote is expected to take place at the Oct. 2 council meeting.

“I’ll be asking council to vote in terms of giving staff direction to start the negotiations with the Cambridge Centre management,” Craig said.

The mall already contains an ice rink used by minor hockey teams and other community groups.

Plans currently on the books call for the multiplex to be built by 2020. Final decisions have yet to be made on the size of its pool and the number of ice rinks it contains.

With reporting by Natalie van Rooy