Answer Man: Arena plan is nearing the starting line

The new multi-purpose arena at Mayo Civic Center would replace Taylor Arena and likely would take some additional Mayo Park greenspace.

Dear Answer Man, what's new on the plan to build a hockey arena at Mayo Civic Center ? Is it a dead horse or not?

What an unpleasant turn of phrase, and while I'm not a licensed large animal veterinarian, I can assure you it's not a deceased horse. Business and civic leaders continue to work on it, as they have for a few years, and a pitch likely will be made to the Rochester City Council this winter, according to Brad Jonesof the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau.

I asked Jones for more precision, since winter can begin here in October. He said that's too early, and I agree. Most likely, it will be post-election and after Jan. 1, he said.

So, it's not a moribund mustang, it just hasn't reached the starting gate yet.

It's also not a hockey arena. It's a multi-purpose arena for entertainment of all kinds, possibly to include hockey, possibly to include a U.S. Hockey League franchise. For all of you who say, "There's nothing to do in Rochester," that's in part because we don't have an arena that compares to what Mankato, Sioux Falls, S.D., Fargo, N.D., and other cities in the Upper Midwest have.


This project would be designed to address that. It's been kept mostly under wraps, but here's what we know: They're likely to propose a $55 million to $75 million arena, with 4,000 to 7,000 seats, that would replace Taylor Arena , which because of its size and design can't accommodate hockey and larger shows, according to project promoters.

The feasibility study that was presented to the city last year estimated that the arena would host an average of 107 events a year, with total attendance of 365,000. Thirty-two of those events would be sports events involving tenants (such as a minor league hockey franchise). The rest would include non-tenant sports events, 21; family shows, 19; concerts, 10; and banquets and events, 10.

Who would pay for it? Nobody knows yet. The project certainly won't fly without committed sports tenants. You may not be a hockey fan, but if you want to see better-quality rock shows and live entertainment here, you should hope the sports angle works out.

There's a working group that meets monthly to groom the proposal, I'm told, and that group typically includes Mayor Ardell Brede, City Administrator Steve Kvenvold, a U.S. Hockey League representative and business leaders.

Expect a lot of drama when this comes to the council early next year.

More on the flagpole

Regarding the new flagpole that was raised at River Bluff Co-op, which I wrote about on Sept. 2 , Richard Lehmanof the co-op's vets club, notes that half the money for the flagpole project was contributed by veterans and the other half by co-op residents, which was greatly appreciated.

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