The design for the plaza that will surround Moncton’s new arena has been released, showing plans for a skating surface, green spaces, basketball courts and a small concert venue.

The new arena complex, which has a price tag of almost $100 million, is being billed as Atlantic Canada’s premiere sports and entertainment venue destination, and the people of Moncton have played a part in its design.

“It’s becoming, I think, critical to developing really important public infrastructure, especially when we want people to be there and use it,” says Katherine Dallaire, the city’s general manager of Parks, Leisure, Culture and Heritage.

Plans include a skating oval larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center, which would convert to a concert venue in the summer.

Ground has now been broken on the $7.2-million project, which is in addition to the $91.4-million price tag for the events centre.

“This downtown centre project and this plaza is a legacy project,” says Moncton City Manager Jacques Dube. “I think people will be proud of this and I think we have a chance to do it right. We have one chance to do it right.”

The city does have a plan to recoup some of its costs; adjacent land will soon be on the market for $3.5 million.

“We’ve had a lot of unsolicited interest coming to the city already, a lot of private developers have already knocked on our door, saying we’re interested in this parcel,” says Dube.

However, Dallaire says whatever is built has to mirror the city’s vision for downtown.

“We’re really looking at what will be very public-facing activities on the main level, so that would be your retail, moving on to the second levels and above, likely residential,” says Dallaire. “We’re really putting a big push for more residential in the downtown.”

Once the new arena is open, the city hopes to pursue major events like international hockey, curling and figure skating championships, as well as the Memorial Cup.

In the summer, the plaza area will be open to festivals and small concerts.

The downtown arena is on track to open in September 2018.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis