Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What a $37M Arena Looks Like

As promised in the previous post some pix of what an arena looks like that's in the Dayton price range.

This is a multipurpose arena in Bloomington Illinois, on the southwest side of their downtown.
The price was $37M, with 6600 seats, say $5.7K/seat. Even though there are more seats this is still a higher price per seat than the Dayton proposal. The costs are 2005, so there might also be an inflation factor to were this would cost more today.

Since there are no good pix we'll have to use birdseye views.

Looking west, this is the "front" of the arena, sited off a busy street. It looks like there is a low parking structure on the upper left of the pix, behind the twin high-rises.

Looking south, this elevation faces a busy street.
Looking east, we see the Dayton Convention Center big blank wall effect + loading area, in this case facing a somewhat residential street. Parking structure to the right.
And, finally, looking north. Not sure what that cul-de-sac is about (secondary drop off point or parking garage access?).

As we can see this is the big-box approach to arena design. They are all big boxes but some have more minimalist exterior treatments than others. The best part of the building is the entrance, which does have sort of a presence on this busy street leading out of downtown Bloomington. Plaza could work for lines waiting to see events.

This side is a good example of a not very pedestrian freindly design, though the designers do liven up the wall a bit with those big windows.
What was proposed for Dayton looked good in the illustrations, with the nice glass walls turning the building into a big lantern at night, combined with an exposed structural system giving the facade some depth. But can it be build for $30M?

What should happen is that the city and county should go for a quality structure and not cheap-out on the construction costs, so we get something more like what's in the illustrations, not a big concrete or metal skin box.

Financing Issues

The financing needs to be thought out and revenue projections realistic. The case study of a problem situation is again Bloomington. The arena was funded via a bond issue, probably revenue bonds. These kinds of bonds are retired through revenue from the improvement or facility. In this case revenue wasnt enough to cover the debt, so the city was either tapping into their general fund to meet its bond payments (according to wiki), or was considering an increase in the property tax (according to a Youngstown Vindicator article on arena finance).

Whatever happens, if we are to lose Dave Hall Plaza it should be a fair trade.

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