ARENA PROJECT Closing date set for land purchase



Studies are being conducted on the arena's seating and other features and on the size of the hotel and conference center.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The city will soon complete its purchase of 25.6 acres between the Market Street and South Avenue bridges for the arena, conference center and hotel complex and parking area to be built there.
The closing of the deal, under which the city will buy the land from RSA Corp. for $1.5 million, is scheduled for Jan. 29, Jeff Chagnot, the city's economic development director, told city council Wednesday.
As proposed by its developer, Faulkner USA of Austin, Texas, the complex would cost about $70 million, with $26.8 million in federal funds to be used for the arena, and the hotel and conference center to be paid for with Faulkner's funds.
"No liability will flow back to the taxpayers that you represent. We do not intend on asking the people for tax dollars to build, maintain or operate this facility," Mayor George McKelvey told lawmakers. "The philosophy that you have voiced publicly, and to me, is that this facility must be self-sustaining. It must support itself through the revenues it generates."
Ongoing studies
Global Spectrum of Philadelphia is performing a study of how many seats and what features the arena should have, and HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment of Chicago is performing a study of what size hotel and conference center should be built based on the needs of this region.
Both studies are to be completed in early February, said Lee A. Esckilsen, senior consultant with Compass Facilities Management Inc. of Ames, Iowa, the city's consultant for the project.
The complex will be located on the Mahoning River's flood plain, but Chagnot said the complex will be designed to withstand the once-in-100-year flood. "We've examined the issue, and we do not feel that that is a major obstacle to the construction," he said.
He also said the former industrial site has received a clean environmental bill of health from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is supplying the $26.8 million in federal funds, and from the Ohio and U.S. environmental protection agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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