“Everybody realizes Sudbury is about the only city of its size in Canada without a hockey stadium,” began the pitch to citizens in the 1949 promotion package for the new Civic Centre.
The Civic Centre, to be built on the site of the former Central Public School, would be a place for hockey, skating, boxing, wrestling, basketball, and trade shows. The proposal called for an arena with a fixed-seating capacity of 4,680, seating on the ice surface of 3,400 and 1,000 standing-room spaces. There would be 200 parking spaces, broadcasting facilities and small meeting rooms.
The plan also called for an auditorium to be built over the entrance lobby with 800 removable seats. This space would accommodate cultural and community events with room for banquets, a large dance floor for 500 couples, and a stage for theatrical productions.
The estimated cost of the arena and auditorium was $1.2 million.
The city had OK’d $700,000. The champions of the project, including Mayor Bill Beaton, hoped to get 9,000 citizens to contribute $500,000 by donating $1 for 36 months or $360 in one lump sum.
In 1951, only the arena, designed by J.B. Sutton, was built. Perhaps the arena committee hoped an auditorium would be added later. Today, 67 years later, despite false starts, too many studies, and lots of talk, the city still doesn’t have a proper cultural centre envisioned by the Sudbury Civic Centre Committee in 1949. We continue to dream.