$1.2 million OK’d for Coliseum
Work to create security wing, upgrade luxury suites
By Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette
A long-planned $1.2 million remodeling and expansion of Memorial Coliseum received its first funding approvals Friday from the Allen County commissioners.
The commissioners granted more than $1.2 million to three Fort Wayne businesses to get the project off the ground – $1,108,150 to general contractor Mosaic Building Solutions, $107,410 to architectural firm MSKTD & Associates and between about $2,600 and $2,900 to GME Testing for soil and concrete testing.
The project, announced in October, will bring 24 remodeled luxury suites and a new, one-story wing for an expanded security area by year’s end, Randy Brown, Coliseum executive vice president and general manager, told the commissioners.
He said he likely will make one additional request for funds for furnishings for the suites.
The suites have not been updated for about 15 years, Brown said, while the norm in the industry is about 10 years. He called their longevity “a testament to our maintenance and housekeeping staff” and its the quality of its members’ work.
The expanded security area allows for security monitoring and checks of patrons that are being required by more event bookings, Brown said. There will also be more room when multiple agencies – Secret Service, state and local police, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents and others – are required for large, security-sensitive gatherings such as candidate visits, he said.
The security space will increase to more than 300 square feet for monitoring and 1,500 square feet for a training and briefing area, including a classroom. The project will bump out part of the wall on the east side of the building.
Brown said the project comes at the end of a successful year in which the venue opened its new conference and event center and increased the number of bookings.
However, he said, attendance was down slightly, “for a number of reasons,” including weather, which especially affected the outdoor Johnny Appleseed Festival. It experienced two days of rain, he said.
The Coliseum finished 2016 in the black, Brown said, while other Indiana venues in Indianapolis and Evansville did not.
Revenues were about $44,000 over expenditures, he said.
Usage was up 24 percent, Brown added, with the new event center doubling what was expected.
Some events expanded, including the annual farm show, which added about 100 visitors, Brown said. But a number of events had small declines of a few hundred people, and that “adds up,” Brown said. Altogether, attendance was off by 0.5 percent.