Discussions of building a new Fort Wayne arena could reemerge, as a developer has pitched the idea of including a new venue in a larger development plan.
An effort is taking place to convert the city’s former General Electric campus into a mixed-use development. Planning is still underway for phase one of that development, known as Electric Works, with project officials attempting to secure public financial assistance to move forward with the plan. At this point, $50 million in local public funding has been propsoed by Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry to assist the project, but developers are seeking an additional $15 million.
In a recent letter to Henry, RTM Ventures partner Josh Parker sought to make the case for extra funding, even floating the idea of including a new arena in the development. The letter from Parker notes that this would ease concerns that investment in Electric Works would squelch any chance of funding a new arena, and that developers would be willing to work with the city to explore the project. More from The Journal Gazette:
“We have heard specifically that there is concern investing in Electric Works will eliminate the chances of building a downtown arena,” the developer’s letter states, adding: “Knowing that the Arena is a particular area of concern we have asked our architects to evaluate sites on the campus where an arena could be accommodated and where we could bring other federal, state, and private funding to its development.
“We have found some potential areas of fit and should the City Administration decide to pursue the Arena again we would be happy to further this analysis.”
Henry nixed continuing to pursue a $105 million arena proposed by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board in November after a consultant reported it would likely not be financially sustainable.
Electric Works site plans submitted Tuesday for upcoming consideration by the Fort Wayne Plan Commission do not show any feature labeled as arena space. However, the plans do show a large open area north of the railroad tracks bordering the north side of west campus designated as “future parking.” The space is bordered by College Street on the west, Rockhill Street on the east and Jones Street on the north.
Officials had been discussing the construction of a new arena in the Fort Wayne’s downtown up until November. The proposed venue was expected to be designed to host events too large for the Grand Wayne Center and too small for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. 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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