Kitchener Aud set to expand in Jan
Kitchener city councillors are set to borrow approximately $9.6 million so the Kitchener Rangers Hockey Club can add 1,000 new seats to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. The debate and analysis of the expansion project has been going on for three years and it set to begin in January.
Since the 2000-01 season, the Rangers have averaged approximately 5,843 fans per game, which when compared to the total fixed-seating capacity of the Aud, would represent near or full capacity.
“An extensive parking study was done by a consultant in advance of the approval of the expansion,” said Ken Carmichael, supervisor of traffic and parking for the city of Kitchener. “And what it indicated was that 2.3 persons per vehicle on average are what show up to the Rangers games. So, based on that 1,000 seat expansion, we’re expecting about 385 additional parking spaces that will be needed.”
From an entertainment event perspective, the Kitchener market is often seen as a relatively robust industry. However, according to the City of Kitchener Memorial Complex Goals and Needs Feasibility Review, the Aud is located in the middle of a highly competitive market between London, Hamilton and Toronto. Therefore, the extension of the Aud is expected to increase the revenue profits overall.
However, a main concern for the people of Kitchener is the amount of disruption this expansion would cause in the surrounding area.
“There’s a number of measures being put in place to reduce the parking demand,” Carmichael said. “An expansion in the [existing] parking lot somewhere in the area 50 spaces [will be]added. At the same time we are also looking to implement shuttle locations around K-W. Tentatively, we have eight locations established.”
Other ways the city plans to reduce parking or traffic congestion is to change one of the main lots with access off Ottawa street to a carpool lot that will only allow people to have a minimum of three people per car or more to use that lot.
Another proposal being considered is to implement a VIP parking lot, in an even a better location than the carpool lot, on a smaller scale right by the Rangers’ offices. “There’s a number of people that would be prepared to pay a certain amount to use that exclusive lot,” Carmichael explained. “ What the benefit there is, is it will generate extra money to the Rangers to hopefully develop additional parking on site down the road.”
“Through those measures, we’re confident that the overall parking demands for the Aud is not going to increase based on what it is today,” Carmichael said. “There will be more seats, but at the end of the day hopefully we’re looking at the same, or similar number of vehicles coming out of the site — maybe less down the road if we continue to work on these transportation demand management practises.”