Officials Hope Northwest Arena Expansion Draws More Revenue
In order to generate more revenue and to increase more year-round use, Northwest Arena officials are planning an expansion.
On Tuesday, Kristy Zabrodsky and David Leathers, co-presidents for the Northwest Arena Board, spoke about the preliminary plans for the expansion at the arena, which is located at 319 W. Third St, with the city Planning Commission. The plan is to construct a new addition to hold a Kids Zone play area; create a gift shop and office spaces for the National Comedy Center; to add a concession stand to sell snacks and water; and to enhance the third floor conference room. The project is being proposed to cost around $5 million.
Zabrodsky said the project is being headed by Northwest Arena officials to produce more revenue so the facility isn’t reliant on funding from the Gebbie Foundation each year. She said when the arena was built in 2001, the Gebbie Foundation funded $20 million for its construction. Also, the Gebbie Foundation granted money toward the debt service and has been making an operations grant each year to the facility.
Zabrodsky said they want to do the expansion project to eliminate the Gebbie Foundation grant so the funding can go toward other worthwhile projects in downtown Jamestown. She said by drawing more people to the arena, they will create more revenue so the facility can be self-sustaining.
“This is an arena project, and only an arena project,” she said.
Another goal of the project is to make the facility more useable year-round and not just reliant on seasonal winter activities like skating and hockey. Zabrodsky said the arena has about 250,000 visitors a year.
Leathers said the new 5,000 square feet addition to the arena would be for the Kids Zone. He said the Kids Zone would be ideal for parents who want to leave their children some place safe while they tour the National Comedy Center or while one of their other children participate in a skating activity.
Leathers said the proposed concession space would not be a restaurant or bar, but would only sell snacks, deli sandwiches, water and soda.
“We’re not looking to compete (with downtown bars and restaurants),” he said.
Zabrodsky said when someone currently participates in a public skate at the arena, if they want something to drink or eat they have to remove their skates and go up stairs to the snack bar. She said via the new concession stand, arena employees could bring the food or drink to the rink.
The project would also include a new redesigned office space for arena officials. Zabrodsky said currently arena staff members are located throughout the building instead of conveniently in one location.
Leathers said the new third level conference room, which could also be used for catered meals, would be redesigned to enhance the experience with views of the ice rink and downtown Jamestown. The new third floor layout would also include office space for National Comedy Center employees, who would lease the space from arena officials. The potential project also includes the National Comedy Center leasing space for a gift shop on the first floor.
Leathers said there were discussions of a connection being built between the arena and the National Comedy Center, however, that is no longer the case. He said with an expedited schedule desired for the project, construction will be done in a more timely fashion and at a lower cost without the connector. He added by not having the connector, it has eliminated the need to close down West Second Street between Lafayette and Washington streets. Also, it has eliminated questions on what to do with BPU and city utility connections under the street.