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Pursuit of New Fort Wayne Arena on Hold

Fort Wayne arena rendering

After considerable study and discussion on the project, officials are delaying any additional action in the pursuit of a new Fort Wayne arena

A great deal of discussion has taken place concerning the potential construction of a new venue in downtown Fort Wayne. One of the areas of consideration was whether the venue could compliment existing facilities in the area, effectively hosting events too large for the Grand Wayne Center and too small for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

On Thursday, Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry revealed that further action on the proposed arena will be delayed. Among the main issues facing the proposed arena include its substantial cost–estimated at $105 million–projected operating losses, and the likelihood that it would ultimately divert events away from existing facilities. More from The Journal Gazette:

The mayor’s statement came just after local officials received a consultant’s report on feasibility of the event center. Prepared by Victus Advisers of Park City, Utah, the report, initially expected by Labor Day, was commissioned by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board.

The news was not encouraging. The report found the new facility would likely lose money while attracting only 10 new events a year.

And, after only three years, attendance would drop off from a projected 153,000 to 127,000, with half or more of those attendees coming for Mad Ants basketball. The numbers assume a stable team audience of 75,000 people annually, or about 3,000 per game.

Meanwhile, interviews with 18 sports, entertainment and arts promoters found that many believed existing venues would suffer, the report says.

“Nearly all” concert promoters said they saw Fort Wayne as “a secondary entertainment market” that would be oversaturated with venues if another is built. Most events booked would simply be transfers from the Coliseum, they said.

Among the key findings of the report was that the proposed arena could lose $470,000 in operating costs on an annual basis, if it were to be run as a stand-alone venue. Were it to be operated in conjunction with downtown’s Grand Wayne Center, the new Fort Wayne arena would have a projected annual operating loss of $17,000. Henry issued a statement on the matter on Thursday:

Currently, Fort Wayne is home to both hockey’s Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) and the NBA Gatorade League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Both teams play at the War Memorial Coliseum, though the Mad Ants had been discussed as a possible tenant for the proposed arena.

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