Steinbach approves Southeast Events Centre bid

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Steinbach city council has given unanimous support to a proposal for a new $42.5 million arena and events centre downtown. Southeast Events Centre, a non-profit organization, made a presentation to city council Tuesday evening about plans to build an 82,500 square foot facility on the site of the current Centennial Arena, connected to the T.G. Smith Arena and curling club. It would include a 2,500 seat arena, with seating for 3,200 when the floor is used for things like concerts. The two-storey structure would have a field house which could also be configured as a 500-seat banquet facility. And, there would be a public indoor walking track. There would be on-site parking for over 600 vehicles with new parking lots to be developed on the east side of the curling club. It says an additional 600 parking spots are available nearby, including 300 at Steinbach Credit Union during non-business hours.

SEC says it will put up $15 million in private funding while the city has committed $10 million plus half a mill of taxation or about $500,000 per year for operating costs. The plan is contingent on getting $17.5 million dollars in federal and provincial funding.

SEC spokesperson Grant Lazaruk is optimistic that can happen.

“We need a voice to communicate our needs to both the province and the feds but I think we can get it accomplished.”

Mayor Earl Funk agrees and notes, the fact there is strong unanimous support from the city and the private sector goes a long way in convincing the senior levels of government to provide funding for projects like this

The city hopes to get a reply on its grant application by late next spring. SEC says it would take two years to build the facility. The new arena would be built first, between the Centennial Arena and Hanover Street. After that, the Centennial Arena would be torn down to make way for the field house and large atrium.

SEC currently has an eight-member board consisting of Grant Lazaruk, Russ Fast, Len Neufeld, Don Janzen, Allan Penner, Darrell Penner, Robert Smith and Claude Vielfaure. Lazaruk says they are in the process of expanding the organization to about 50 members with an elected board.

The new events centre would be owned by the city and would be operated by SEC.

Lazaruk explains what has prompted the private sector to make such a huge commitment to this plan.

“We are all community people who believe in something. We have employees that need to be entertained. We’ve got some very cold months here and we’ve got to have a facility that facilitates gatherings and events. We need that for our employees, for our children and for the future of this community.”