Downtown Fort Wayne arena project tabled
Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Plans for a $105 million downtown Fort Wayne arena and event center have been put on hold.
Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement Thursday morning that he decided, for several reasons, that the project some have called an indoor version of Parkview Field should not be pursued at this time.
Henry noted that a number of economic development projects are in the works or already underway, including the redevelopment of the General Electric campus, the Skyline Tower, two new hotels and the North River property the city hopes to acquire across the street from Science Central.
“As mayor, it’s my job to lead and ensure that we continue the positive momentum and investments we’re experiencing in our community. This means exploring bold ideas that can be transformational,” Henry said in the statement. “However, not all projects have reached the point where I believe they’d be a responsible investment at this time.”
Contributing to his decision, Henry said, were the different views on how a downtown event center would serve the city expressed in a 2015 report by Hunden Strategic Partners and a new report by Victus Advisors that was commissioned by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board.
Over the past several months, Henry said he’d also met with dozens of community leaders and most of the state legislators from Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.
“To make the event center a reality, we’ll need state funding assistance. As an elected leader, I don’t feel as though it would be fair to ask for their support during the 2018 legislative session when our community hasn’t yet embraced the project. I believe we shouldn’t make a long-term decision that just isn’t ready and fully supported,” he said.
The multiuse event center was envisioned as something that would raise the bar for the Grand Wayne Center by expanding its marketable square footage, allowing the city to pursue larger conventions and increasing out-of-town interest. It also was promoted as a home for several local collegiate basketball teams and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.