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Mayor puts planning of new Fort Wayne Arena on hold

After receiving a consultant’s report that revealed the development’s impracticality of the, Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry announced Nov. 16 that further action on the proposed Downtown Event Center will be put on hold.

Prepared by Victus Advisors of Park City, Utah and commissioned by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board, the report found that the $105 million arena will only attract 10 new events each year causing the city to lose money.

After three years, attendance will decrease from a projected 153,000 to 127,000, with half or more coming only for Mad Ants basketball games. Numbers in the report reflected a stable team audience of 75,000 attendees annually or about 3,000 each game.

Victus Advisors also sought the opinion of various sport, entertainment and arts promoters. After 18 interviews with these professionals, the report concluded that many believed the arena will cause existing venues to suffer financially.

According to the report, almost all concert promoters consider Fort Wayne only as “a secondary entertainment market.” If officials push construction of the new arena, the city would become oversaturated with the arena accommodating events that are transfers from the Memorial Coliseum.

The proposed arena is projected to lose $470,000 in operating costs each year if it will be operated as a stand-alone facility. It could generate about $144,000 in net income if operated in conjunction with Grand Wayne Center and Memorial Coliseum but the amount is still exclusive of reductions such as debt-service payments and expenses for capital needs, said the report.

Randy Brown, executive vice president and director of operations at Memorial Coliseum, affirmed the report’s findings saying that it supported “pretty much what I’ve been saying all along.”

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