The Moncton Wildcats has been given the go ahead to make changes to the new $104-million downtown centre, even though the team isn't signed on as an official tenant.
Moncton city council approved a motion allowing the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team to make "leasehold improvements" in the centre, through a contract with Bird Construction.
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Ryan Jenner, the team's director of business operations, said there are three spaces where improvements may be made — the dressing room, office and boutique.
"Currently [there are] four blank walls so there's absolutely nothing done to those spaces currently so it's a fairly standard course in a lease arrangement that we would work that out with the landlord and then work it into a lease agreement or a term," said Jenner.
Moncton owns the building, which is expected to open in September 2018, but it will be operated and managed by SMG Canada.
The motion allows up to $2 million in improvements, which will be paid back to the city over a 20-year period.
The motion passed with no debate on Monday night.
"We own the building so certainly for us any improvement is a benefit to us as the owners of the building," said Isabelle LeBlanc, a city spokesperson.
"So any improvement that we will see will serve us in the long term so we see this — council sees this — as a very positive step in the downtown centre."
Moving forward, Jenner said the hockey team is in the process of negotiating with SMG Canada to sign on as a tenant with the facility.
"We're committed to the project," he said.
"We want to be there and we're working through that with them now."
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Part of the winning team
The new Moncton facility will play a huge part in recruiting future players, Jenner said.
"We're competing against not only other teams in our league … you know U.S. colleges that have phenomenal facilities with endless alumni money … it's a big deal for a junior hockey player to have a great facility to play out of," he said.
"For us, we're here to win hockey games and we win hockey games by having the best players and so if this is going to help us do that, this is what we want to do."
Moncton council also approved a motion allowing the Moncton Wildcats to make a "significant" contribution to the city's fundraising campaign for the downtown centre and plaza project.
The goal of the campaign is $5 million, which will go towards the cost of the facility, which is expected to be more than $100 million.
The amount of the Wildcats contribution has not been revealed but LeBlanc said an announcement will be made at a later date.