Moncton City Council crossed a major hurdle Monday night in their pursuit of a new downtown arena.

Council members voted to purchase the Highfield Square property at a cost of $6.3 million, by a count of eight to two.

The prime downtown location is the preferred site of a $105 million multipurpose arena.

Coun. Brian Hicks was one of the two votes against the purchase of the land.

“We've never really talked about the cost to homeowners for this project,”
says Hicks. “It's kind of been like it's free. Well, it's not free. Taxpayers in Moncton will have to pay thousands of dollars individually.”

Mayor George LeBlanc says any increase will be offset by tax revenue the city has set aside.

“We're saving a down payment and with the money we're saving through that, we anticipate the tax increase will be minimal, perhaps a penny,” says LeBlanc.

The next step in the arena process is to seek request for proposals, which will give a better idea of what the arena will look like, inside and out.

The city has asked the province and the federal government to kick in $24 million each to help build the 9,000-seat complex. No commitment has made by either government, but LeBlanc remains confident.

“I'm optimistic we'll be able to get the support we need based on the conversations we've had with our MP,” he says.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis