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Budweiser Gardens proposed renovations questioned by councillors

London City Coun. Sam Trosow had roughly 30 questions regarding the proposed $33.3 million Budweiser Gardens expansion and renovation.

"I did submit questions, which have not been answered yet - and I would like the questions answered," said Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow.

“Could the report more precisely state what are the general food and beverage concession upgrades… how was the 80/20 split derived… could their be more details provided about the club lounge expansion?" asked Trosow.

The general manager of Budweiser Gardens, Brian Ohl, was on hand to address some of those questions.

“The club lounge expansion, we are looking to put a signature bar in there to make a little bit more room in their, to alleviate a bit of the crowding we have during hockey games," explained Ohl.

The $33.3 million proposal would include two construction phases, the first focused on customer-centric enhancements, and the second phase dealing primarily with so-called “back of house” enhancements.

The city would cover 80 per cent of the plan and operator OVG360 would cover the rest.

"Many of the expenses in phase one, and I’m not even taking the position that they're not warranted, I’m not saying that, but I’m saying I don't want that done through council - and not through the budget process,” explained Councillor Trosow.

A KPMG report estimates earnings of $53 million for the city over the remaining term of the agreement.

Councillor Trosow expressed concern over the language being used in the KPMG report to describe revenue projections.

"The use of the terms "appears to be" and "may have" seem to be very loose and speculative, can more precision be given?" questioned Trosow.

"The language is "may" because they are future projections, we only know they could, and that we estimate them to be the case, but we cannot say that they will - because none of us have the crystal ball to give you that assurance,” explained Deputy City Manager of Finance Supports and City Treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon.

Trosow argued that the KPMG report should be made public, "They have used the KPMG report, they have referred to it - in terms of making their arguments- and I think once they do that, they should really be under an obligation to disclose the report.”

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis said he supports the motion to move forward because it's a good deal for the city, and timing matters

"Contractors have to start getting ready to do this work in the June, July, & August period, because I mean, the [London] Knights return in early September, the [London] Lightning will be back again next season, so this work has to happen when the major tenants are not in the building," said Lewis.

By a vote of 4-1, the committee recommended the motion go forward to the next council meeting for final ratification next week.

If council votes yes, then phase one will move forward and Budweiser Gardens can begin construction.

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