Panel to Consider Fort Wayne Sports Arena

A consultant recommendation for a sports arena in downtown
Fort Wayne (City of Fort Wayne Graphic)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO) Fort Wayne is taking a close look at a downtown arena.

Mayor Tom Henry announced Wednesday, he's formed a 16-member committee to review the possibility of a 5,500 seat, $48 to $63 million facility in the central city.

The panel is lead by Chuck Surack of Sweetwater Sound and includes representatives from Memorial Coliseum, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, Ash Brokerage and Parkview Health.

Members maintain they aren't leaning one direction or another, but simply are reviewing the practicality of a venue.

The City of Fort Wayne commissioned a $39,0000 study last fall to prepare a feasibility study. The panel will take those results and make a recommendation to the Mayor.  You can review the feasibility study, by clicking here.

No word on how soon the panel could make it's decision. 

Here's the Mayor's press release:

Downtown arena study completed
Chuck Surack to lead committee on financial viability of a possible arena

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Mayor Tom Henry today was joined by community leaders to announce the study of a downtown arena in the City of Fort Wayne has been completed and the results have been released to the public. 

As a next step in the process, Chuck Surack, founder and president of Sweetwater, will lead a study committee comprised of local business and community leaders to further evaluate the financial viability of a possible downtown arena. 

Committee members include:
*Shane Araujo, 3BG Supply Co.
*Tim Ash, Ash Brokerage
*Bruce Boxberger, Carson Boxberger
*Ian Boyce, Dickmeyer Boyce Financial Management
*Kathy Callen, Old National Bank

*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
*Chuck Surack, Sweetwater
*Dennis Sutton, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Board of Trustees
*Andrew Thomas, Ridge NAPA Auto Parts
*Gary Wasson, Embassy Theatre Board of Directors
*Doug Wood, PNC
*Bill Zielke, Board of Park Commissioners

The City invested $39,000 in the study conducted by Hunden Strategic Partners as a way to gauge the viability of a downtown facility as a result of the success being experienced in community and complement the events being offered at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and the Embassy Theatre. 

Highlights from the downtown arena study:
The study shows the best results for a possible arena would include 5,500 seats, parking garage, restaurants, and a connector to the Grand Wayne Center with a potential budget in the range of $48-$63 million. 

*Strengths in support of an arena include:

-Committed community leadership
-Downtown redevelopment
-Pre- and post-event activity surrounding Parkview Field events 
-Strong existing event demand
-Potential for more events
-Net positive impact on the Grand Wayne Center, Embassy Theatre, hotels and restaurants
-Strong and growing market
-Transportation access
-Growing interest for small arenas

*Challenges of pursuing an arena include:
-Mid-sized market with existing larger arena (Coliseum)

*Opportunities that exist with a new arena include:

-New events for Fort Wayne
-Better seating and views for smaller events
-Design oriented for basketball and closer viewing
-Televised events
-Catalytic development for downtown activity
-Economic, fiscal, and employment benefits
-Strong relationship and synergy with neighboring projects, especially the Grand Wayne Center 

The study also indicated a downtown arena would reinforce and enhance Fort Wayne as an attraction and strong regional economic center. New residential and restaurant development would be more likely with an arena, and corporations would be more likely to locate downtown.

“I’m encouraged by the excitement and momentum we’re seeing as we work together to invest in our future,” said Mayor Henry. “We like the concept of an additional facility downtown, but we know we must have a careful examination of the financial impact. We’re fortunate to be in position to be able to have thoughtful and meaningful discussions on how to move Fort Wayne forward with unique economic development opportunities.” 

The study is available at on the slideshow on the homepage.