Mayor says Express 'Didn't Have the Money' for Windsor Arena Plan

am800-news-windsor-arena-rendering-A-december-2019

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says a proposed plan for Windsor Arena put all the risk on the city.

The Windsor Express announced the city turned down their proposal to turn the shuttered arena on McDougal Street near Wyandotte Street into their new home on Thursday with no explination.

Dilkens provided more context on the city's decision Friday.

He says the $12-million plan submitted by the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) team was exciting, but it didn't have the financial guarantee administration was looking for.

"They [administration] asked for audited financial statements and we never received any. We asked for a commitment and a guarantee from a financial institution and we didn't receive it," he says. "What we did receive was a letter from a financial institution saying they agreed to review an application."

Dilkens counts himself as one of the team's biggest fans, but the city can't objectively support the proposal.

"At the end of the day what they were asking for was the city to spend $1-million to replace the roof on The Barn, at least $1-million to demolish the interior of The Barn," he says. "There would be additional costs to retrofit and put in all sorts of fire-suppression systems and then we had to give them the land and the building basically for free."

All the risk fell on the taxpayer, according to Dilkens.

"If they defaulted along the way, guess who owns the land and building? The bank," says Dilkens. "It's the city taxpayers holding all of the risk."

He says four proposals for the arena were turned down in total. 

Two were rejected immediately because they wouldn't be a good fit and the YMCA withdrew its interest when the pandemic hit due to financial concerns, according to Dilkens.