'Surreal' to see construction on rec centre underway: Hampton mayor

Hampton Mayor Bob Doucet said it's "surreal" to see construction work underway on the town's new multipurpose facility.

Doucet said crews from Bird Construction got going at William Bell Drive "quite a bit earlier" than they'd thought, setting up March 18. There are a few remaining tenders to look at, but he said they're pouring the concrete this week and hope to have the building enclosed and heated by December.

"It's almost surreal to us, we worked so long and so hard on this," said Doucet. "To see that happening is exciting to us."

The multipurpose facility is planned to feature a 539-seat NHL-sized arena, walking track and meeting rooms. Doucet said it'll have a community room with a "beautiful view" from a 42 by 26 foot patio.

Regarding construction time, he said a "lot depends" on the availability of materials. He said his hope is to see the centre built by the fall of 2025 but it may "realistically" open the following winter.

"Realistically, it's probably going to be January or February of 2026, but we'll see. A lot of it is going to anchor on supply issues."

Hampton CAO Richard Malone said the town is working with Saint John's ICS Creative on the facility's name and logo and hope to have something next month.

Doucet said they're deciding the process now, including whether there will be public input or whether they'll simply announce the name.

Discussion of a new arena for Hampton goes back as far as 10 years, according to Brunswick News archives. The building was first approved for federal and provincial funding in 2021 at a cost of $15.5 million, with the town paying $5.3 million. The town then had to go back to their funding partners after cost increases spiked to $20.75 million, with the municipality contributing $6.45 million.

"It's very very exciting, it's one of those things where we waited for so long, we got the funding and we had so many complications getting where we are, and now it's happening," Doucet said.

Doucet said in January projections are running closer to $28 million, with the increases supported by borrowing or local fundraising.

Malone said last week that a fundraising study is in its "very beginning" stages.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal