Construction of the $20 million project, a possible model for Youngstown, is on schedule.
By ROGER G. SMITH
CITY HALL REPORTER
MASSILLON -- Looking across this city's arena site, all Mike Foss sees is dirt, lots of dirt.
Come October, Foss is sure that a $20 million 6,500-seat privately built arena will occupy the space.
The past few months were spent hauling out huge amounts of wet earth and replacing it with dry fill. The building's foundation work starts soon.
"We're right on schedule," said Foss, the building's general manager. "There's been a lot of work done here the past couple of months."
Main tenant: The planned main tenant -- a minor league hockey team -- wasn't so convinced, however.
Ten days ago, the United Hockey League team's owners announced they were taking their franchise 10 miles away to play in the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Team owners said they were concerned the Massillon building wouldn't be ready in time, which jeopardized marketing plans for the 2002-03 season.
The Massillon project's developers, MG/Dove, countered that the team couldn't meet a deadline to provide a letter of credit needed for the lease, so they suspended negotiations.
Massillon quickly secured a Continental Elite Hockey League franchise, a junior pro league, for the 2002-2003 season. Developers also said they are talking to the higher profile East Coast and Central hockey leagues.
It's not clear exactly why the tenant shuffle happened, but the events are relevant to Youngstown.
Similar project: The Massillon project is being watched because MG/Dove has expressed interest this fall in doing a similar project in downtown Youngstown.
Top MG/Dove officials haven't responded to multiple interview requests in recent weeks about their position, now that Youngstown city hall and the civic center board have settled their roles.
The tenant shuffle showed that the building is about more than hockey, an upside to the controversy, said Laura Paquelet, an MG/Dove spokeswoman.
There was no panic about losing the tenant, because hockey games will make up only a part of the arena's dates, she said. Many people thought the new arena was focused mostly on hockey, she said.