The next step planners are taking in deciding whether to pursue a downtown arena is commissioning a study of how it would cost to operate such a facility.
At the Thursday morning meeting of the Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board, board members approved spending up to $70,000 for an analysis by one of three consulting firms. Board member Steve Brody, who directs the CIB's involvement in researching and planning a downtown event center, said the coming study would have several elements.
It would project revenue and expenses to see whether a new arena just west of the Grand Wayne Center would be likely to turn a profit or run a deficit. The study also is supposed to look beyond opening day to see how much it would cost to build in funding for ongoing capital improvements to keep the arena fresh. The consultants also should look at market size and prospects for a new arena, as well as its impact on other venues in town, such as Memorial Coliseum and Embassy Theatre, Brody said.
Brody said that three candidate firms – Victus Advisors of Park City, Utah; HVS of Chicago and CSL of Plano, Texas – are still in the running to research and analyze the proposed downtown event center. Brody said he and representatives of Fort Wayne, Allen County and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. plan to interview staff of the three firms in a couple of weeks. A week or so after those interviews, Brody said, he expects a firm will be hired.
After selection, Brody said, a consultant ought to have a report ready in 10-14 weeks.
The latest plans envision a center that would seat nearly 6,000 people for concerts and more than 5,600 for basketball. Its estimated cost is $104.9 million, which does not include land-acquisition costs.