Thursday, November 10, 2005
Response Requested - Make Your Voice Heard on Proposed Duluth Arena
It is not often a community gets to build a new sports and entertainment venue – but that is exactly what the leadership at the DECC is hoping will happen. And the DECC’s leadership is hopeful the Chamber will publicly support the proposed new arena.
College hockey programs from coast to coast have passed Duluth by because of its lack of adequate facilities. UMD’s rink, which is now 40 years old, is the oldest in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Duluth Arena is also the smallest. UMD’s leadership believes Duluth must provide a more competitive venue for hockey or risk the likelihood of losing top hockey prospects to other colleges – and its hard-earned reputation as one of the country’s elite programs.
The new arena will include 1,000 additional seats, providing 6,630 seats for hockey and more than 8,200 seats for concerts. If funding is approved, construction will begin in early 2007 and be completed by late 2008.
The new arena will cost $67 million. $33.5 million will be sought from the state of Minnesota; the other half of the funding coming from the DECC and UMD communities, as well as from a .75% sales tax increase on food and drink in the city of Duluth. This tax means consumers will pay 6 more cents on an $8 dollar lunch order. This funding translates to local annual funding for the arena as follows: UMD will contribute $455,000; the DECC will contribute $461,000; and the City of Duluth entertainment tax (food and drink) will generate $1,300,000. These amounts will increase each year by approximately 4.25% for the 25 year payment period.
During the arena’s two years of construction, there will be 300 full-time jobs at the peak of the project – 90% of the jobs will be staffed by local workers. On average, there will be 200 full-time jobs for local building and construction trade workers.
The DECC is a popular sight for conventions and trade shows – more space will mean even larger events for the DECC and the Duluth community. Each convention held in the new spaces has the potential to attract thousands more people to Duluth, generating millions of new dollars each year to the area’s economy from shopping, lodging, dining and other purchases.
For these reasons, The Chamber’s staff is inclined to recommend to the board of directors that the Chamber support the arena. However, before a recommendation is provided, the Chamber’s staff members are interested in gaining your perspective on the proposed arena. We especially want to hear from our Chamber members who are in the hospitality business.
Only after we gain your perspective will we make a recommendation to the board.
Here is your chance to make your voice heard. Let us know what you think about the proposed arena by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will compile your responses into a report for the board. Please respond by the end of the day Monday, November 14.
Your opinion is important to us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in support,
posted by David Ross