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Evansville approves arena funding plan

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The official funding plan for the $127.5-million project shields the city from some financial liability; the big question remaining is who will be playing in the facility.

The Evansville City Council finalized the funding arrangements for the new downtown arena, identifying the three major financing sources for the project.

Basically, money for the arena will be managed by the Evansville Redevelopment Authority and the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, not the city; this shields the city from using property taxes for the $127.5-million project unless it’s absolutely necessary. A downtown food and beverage tax, TIF funds and Casino Aztar funds.

None of this is a surprise: Evansville officials said from Day One they’d work to shield city taxpayers from directly supporting arena financing. And the experts agree that the three funding sources should generate more cash than necessary to pay for a new arena.

The big question remains: who will end up as a tenant in the arena? Realistically, there are three options: the IHL, the ECHL and the USHL. (We’re not counting the AAHL as a realistic option.) The IHL has a lot banking on an Evansville lease; the league desperately needs a boost after losing Muskegon for next season and other franchises on perpetual life support. The USHL has a lot of momentum, with two expansion franchises in place for next season. And an ECHL team has the best chance to generate the most revenue.

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