Fact sheet: 5 things to know about the proposed arena in Rochester
We first reported in late August that the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau is working closely with a group of investors to finance a new state-of-the-art arena in Rochester. Little information on the project has been made public since then, but I'm told plans are moving along rather quickly.
A private consultant tasked with performing a feasibility study on an arena will present its results at the next city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 12. Don't expect many details — like cost or location — to be revealed. However, we should get a better idea of the different sizes being discussed and what options would potentially work in our community.
In the meantime, we want to spark a conversation about whether Rochester needs a new sports arena: Is it worth investing public funds into? If one is built, what should it be used for? What are the benefits/risks of building a new facility?
Join me Wednesday night from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for an informal discussion on the possibility of adding a new arena. It will be our first installment of the new "What's on Tap" series at Kutzky Market.
The market's resident blogger, Dave Beal, will lead the discussion. However, there will be no formal presentations and each person who attends will be allowed equal opportunity to engage in the conversation.
To make sure everyone's caught up on the topic, I've developed a "fact sheet" highlighting the key points of the proposal:
1. What would the facility be used for?
The official word from RCVB is that they're "doing a feasibility study on a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue." And while that's probably true, the driving force behind the plans appears to be a group of private investors interested in bringing a United States Hockey League team back to Rochester.
Right around the same time news broke about the possibility of bringing an expansion team here, Ed Hruska, the executive director of the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission, wrote an editorial highlighting the need for a new ice arena. He said the city's current facilities are not good enough to draw in "higher end teams and events."
2. Where would it be located?
Word on the street is the group is looking to build the new facility behind the Mayo Civic Center. But that doesn't mean other areas aren't being explored as potential sites. We do know that whatever is proposed would need to be larger than the Rochester Recreation Center, which has a maximum capacity of 2,500 spectators.
3. How much would it cost?
We probably won't have that answer for a while. However, the $50 million number has been thrown out quite a bit, given that's about what it costs to construct a multi-use arena for this size market.
The real question will be how much private investment is on the table, and how much will be left up to the taxpayers. Brad Jones, executive director for the RCVB, told me back in August that any project would likely involve both public and private funding sources.
4. Who's behind the plans?
The RCVB is working with Hammes Co., of Brookfield, Wis., on the feasibility study. Hammes has been heavily involved with the DMC initiative since its inception and is currently assisting the Mayo Clinic on the development of the future Discovery Square district. The consulting firm is also working on a $200 million project in Madison that will pave the way for a large biotech company to move its headquarters to the city's downtown.
5. What's the timeline for the project?
As previously mentioned, the feasibility study will be presented to the council next Monday. From there it's anyone's guess. But we do know that Riverside Concerts has been contacted regarding next summer's series, meaning the group may be looking to begin work on the project while work is being done on the $85 million renovation and expansion of the Mayo Civic Center.
About Sean Baker: Sean is the founder and editor of the Med City Beat. Under his direction, the site has transitioned from a small news blog to one of the most widely-read publications in the city. Prior to launching the site in 2014, Sean spent about two years producing television news in Green Bay and Rochester. His office is above a brewery, so please excuse any typos. Twitter.
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