Arena Expansion Process Must Move Faster

It was back in August when Northwest Savings Bank Arena officials first proposed expanding the arena. Five months later, the process is inching forward.

The project would build a new back end of the arena to house a small concession area, more space to make the facility function better for skaters and hockey players, redesign of the two-level space overlooking the main rink to make it more functional for arena events and rentals, office space that will be leased by the National Comedy Center and, perhaps most importantly, a Kids Zone that would be open year-round.

The project would enhance revenues for the arena while also improving the building’s appearance from Second Street. It would appear to have little impact on traffic flow and the Gebbie Foundation has approved creating five additional parking spaces on land it owns so that there is no net loss of parking spaces with the planned removal of five spaces on the back side of the arena as part of the expansion project.

After roughly four months, the city Planning Commission recommended the sale of land necessary for the project to the City Council, which has now approved setting a required public hearing on the sale. There are still a lot of hurdles to cross for the arena expansion project, including the actual sale of the land and site plan approvals.

The project comes with a $5 million price tag. The Gebbie Foundation has said it will pay part of the cost, but the arena will need to reach outside of the greater Jamestown area to pay for this project. Too much delay on city approvals for the project will mean arena officials miss another round of possible grant funding for the project, pushing the project.

It’s time for this process to move much faster than inches at a time.

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