Adding more ice to the snow belt
By Ian C. Robertson
London could see a new huge sports facility built as soon as two years from now.
The new complex would be 6.3 acres with two ice pads, one with 5,000 seats and another with 2,000 in luxury boxes, an Olympic size swimming pool, National Basketball Association-sized gym, underground parking and a shopping mall, said Larry Gazdig, a London area school teacher.
Gazdig has spent $100,000 of his own money in an attempt to build a new arena despite what he called City Hall's attempts to "stonewall" any progress.
Gazdig, the creator of the $100 million sports and entertainment complex, said city council has hindered the progression of the new arena by giving it poor possible locations to build, small lots to choose from and general inaccessibility.
Anne Marie DeCicco, London's Deputy Mayor, said Gazdig has not put forth any formal proposals and does not know of anyone at City Hall who has made a decision concerning the Sportsplex. She said any such project is something which would be voted on in a council meeting.
Gazdig says he is not going to bother to put forward a formal proposal because in his experience City Hall is not willing to help with a new facility unless it will revitalize the downtown on a sports basis. Ideally, he said he wanted a blessing from the city, formal or otherwise and a promise they will not put any blockers in his way. "This is something the city can use, there is a real shortage of ice time," Gazdig said.
DeCicco said there is indeed a shortage of ice time in the city but there is a plan to shut down at least one arena in the near future. The plan for a new one is still tentative and city council will be putting it up for public tender.
Gazdig said his new Sportsplex will be privately funded with shares being sold. A number of private investors have made commitments but due to speculation, their names cannot be released, he said.
Currently there are five prospective sights in southwest London near Wonderland and Southdale with easy access to the highway, Gazdig said, but the exact locations cannot be revealed due to excited prospectors purchasing the land. "We've already lost a lot of locations because of people buying our sites," said Gazdig.
He explained the women's Olympic hockey team, the London Knights and the 2001 Summer Games have all been looked at as prospective tenants.
Robbin Hewitt, Western's figure skating coach, said while the team's ice time has been cut back from four to three days a week, an arena in southwest London would be impractical to use.
Plans for the Sportsplex are expected to be ready in three months and $20 million will then be needed to begin digging, Gazdig said. The entire building process should then take another year and a half, he added.