The committee established to consider the viability of a downtown arena has presented its recommendations to my administration.
The committee has unanimously recommended the City of Fort Wayne should pursue building a downtown arena. The committee concluded a multipurpose entertainment center would further strengthen Fort Wayne’s position as a leader in economic development opportunities and quality of place amenities that set us apart as a place where businesses, individuals and families want to invest.
The committee began meeting in June 2015 and was led by Chuck Surack, founder and president of Sweetwater. The committee examined finance, governance, facilities, and programming. All of the areas studied showed the community has the capacity to move forward with a sports and entertainment venue.
Committee members have concluded the area west of the Grand Wayne Center and across from Parkview Field bounded by Jefferson Boulevard, Washington Boulevard, Webster Street, and Ewing Street would be the preferred location for an arena and serve as a connector into the Grand Wayne Center.
The Committee also recommended that an architectural and engineering firm be hired to develop a schematic design of an arena. This would allow for a more thorough evaluation of programming options and cost of construction.
I have expressed my support for considering a downtown arena and my leadership team will now take the recommendations under advisement to determine the next steps in the process. I’ve also expressed a desire to work with the Allen County Commissioners to explore partnership opportunities moving forward as Allen County government is the owner of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Committee members and I are committed to ensuring an arena would complement the events being offered at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and the Embassy Theatre and not have a negative effect on either facility.
I continue to be encouraged by the momentum and excitement in our City. I’m appreciative of the time and dedication it took the committee to reach a final recommendation on the arena and look forward to what the future holds for Fort Wayne. We’re fortunate to be in position to be able to be bold and strive for greatness as we come together to make investments that will have a lasting impact.
Highlights of next steps:
*My staff and I will review the committee’s recommendations and meet with the Allen County Commissioners.
*The schematic design process will move forward. The selection of a firm to complete the work and funding sources for the work will be finalized in the coming weeks.
*Once the recommendations are reviewed and schematic designs are completed, the process of determining land acquisition, financial resources and budgets, architectural work, leadership and oversight structure, and a detailed timeline could begin.
Downtown Arena Committee members included:
Shane Araujo, 3BG Supply Co.
Tim Ash, Ash Brokerage
Bruce Boxberger, Carson Boxberger
Ian Boyce, Dickmeyer Boyce Financial Management
Kathy Callen, Old National Bank
Eric Doden, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Scott Glaze, Fort Wayne Metals
Tiffany Gooden, Hall & Gooden LLP
Mike Nutter, Fort Wayne TinCaps
Mike Packnett, Parkview Health
Jonathan Ray, Fort Wayne Urban League
Don Steininger, Steininger Development
Chuck Surack, Sweetwater
Dennis Sutton, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Board of Trustees
Andrew Thomas, Ridge NAPA Auto Parts
John Urbahns, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Gary Wasson, Embassy Theatre Board of Directors
Doug Wood, PNC
*Bill Zielke, Board of Park Commissioners