Planning underway for NHL-style 20,000-seat arena in suburban Toronto

MARKHAM, Ont. – An NHL-sized building is being planned for the outskirts of Toronto, but a number of hurdles remain before a second NHL team calls the region home.

On Wednesday, GTA Sports and Entertainment confirmed that it hopes to build a multi-use 20,000-seat arena in Markham, Ont., which is located about 40 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto.

“After considerable work and discussions, we’re looking forward to bringing our official proposal to the town of Markham in the near future,” said W. Graeme Roustan, the company’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The $300-million arena is being planned as part of a major entertainment complex and could be ready as soon as 2014, according to GTA Sports and Entertainment.

While the NHL is aware of the development, the league has been consistent in not making any guarantees to groups involved with arena projects. It has handled the interest from Quebec City in recent years in the same manner.

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If at some point down the line there was a NHL franchise to be moved to an arena in Markham, a deal would likely have to be worked out with the Toronto Maple Leafs. For example, when Anaheim was awarded a NHL team in 1992, half of its US$50-million expansion fee went to the L.A. Kings to help offset potential revenue loss.

Even without a professional sports franchise to call the building home, Roustan believes it will be an ideal place for concerts and other events.

“Markham is recognized as Canada’s high-tech capital and the most ethnically diverse community in Canada, making it an ideal location for this facility,” said Roustan.