Valpo will know about arena feasibility in 90 days

Study will look at sites, costs and potential benefits of facility
2008-03-24T00:00:00Z Valpo will know about arena feasibility in 90 daysPHIL WIELAND
March 24, 2008 12:00 am  • 

VALPARAISO | The final financial contribution was secured Wednesday that will allow the city to proceed with a feasibility study for construction of an arena.

The arena would be used in conjunction with a small convention center and as a venue for Valparaiso University athletic events.

The city's Redevelopment Commission approved a request by Mayor Jon Costas to contribute $10,000 toward the $65,000 cost of the study to be done by Hunden Strategic Partners. The study is expected to take 60 to 90 days to complete.

The remaining funding is coming from $10,000 from the city's economic development income tax revenue; $5,000 from the Valparaiso Economic Development Corp.; $10,000 from the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission; and $30,000 from private donations made by individuals associated with the university.

"We wanted the private sector to help in funding the feasibility study," Costas said. "I don't know who contributed, but I'm told the checks are on the way."

The study will be coordinated by the city Economic Development Director Matt Murphy, who said he was solidifying the funding sources so the study could begin as soon as possible.

"We knew it was a great idea, but the question was whether we could get the money for the study," Murphy said.

Stuart Summers, executive director for the commission, said the arena, which would be operated as a partnership between the city and the university, could become a substantial economic generator for visitor and convention activity and substantially benefit the city's tax increment financing districts, which provide most of the commission's funding.

Hunden, which has offices in Chicago and Beverly Shores, will be working with Economic Research Associates, of Los Angeles, which has experience in economic development and planning, real estate and land use, recreation, tourism and leisure time, and transportation systems. Hunden's experience includes consulting work on several professional and amateur sports facilities, and convention and conference centers.

The study will look at the potential market for the arena, what the seating capacity should be, what other components it should have, the best location for it and what its revenue and expenses will be during the first 10 years of operation.

Options the city also is expected to pursue through Hunden are the cost of building the facility, and the benefits to the community from the events that would be held at the arena and the people who would be employed.

How the arena construction would be funded is something that would be examined if the project is deemed feasible, but City Administrator William Hanna said the city hopes the project would generate significant private interest to develop it.

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