Arena Project Has Sustainability In Mind
The hardest thing to do sometimes is to admit when a community jewel needs a little work.
That’s exactly what Northwest Arena board members have done by making public their plans to expand the arena. The $5 million 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; add a concession stand to sell snacks and water; and enhance the third floor conference room. It no longer includes a connector across Second Street as had been previously discussed.
The Kids Zone play area would be a nice addition both to downtown and for parents whose younger children may not play hockey or ice skate while generating additional yearly revenue for the arena. The National Comedy Center space would also be a revenue enhancement to the arena. We wonder if using the arena’s second rink for off-ice sports like flag football leagues, indoor soccer, for high schools to use during inclement weather, could enhance revenue well.
Additional revenue for the arena is important to more than just the arena board. When the arena was built in 2001, the Gebbie Foundation funded $20 million for its construction while several other area foundations made contributions as well. Now, the Gebbie Foundation grants money every year toward the debt service and makes an operations grant each year to the facility. The less money the arena needs from the foundation each year is money that can be spent on other downtown projects.
Spending $5 million to expand the arena isn’t what anyone had in mind in 2001 when the facility opened its doors, but 16 years of experience has shown improvements are needed to make the facility function a little better and make more money. We hope the expansion project moves forward as long as it does not drain funding from other priority projects.