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Friday, November 18 2011

EVANSVILLE - Downtown businesses are excited that the new Ford Center is up and running, not only from the standpoint of entertainment value, but monetary value as well.

Since the Ford Center has opened, a few events, including UE basketball and Icemen hockey games, have been held there. These events have attracted additional crowds to downtown Evansville and the surrounding stores, shops and bars have benefited.

Main Gate Sports Bar and Grill is one of those businesses. Blake Billman, manager of Main Gate, is excited about the additional customers his bar has received, and said he had great success during last weekend's Icemen game.

"We had to keep track of how many people were coming in," Billman said. "And I had to end up cutting and shutting down. We were at capacity and couldn't let anybody else in. So, great problem to have, unfortunately, you know, we can't pack the place full due to fire code and all that. But it was awesome."


Posted by: Rolando trentini AT 08:49 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, August 25 2011

A group of auto dealerships has secured the naming rights for the new downtown Evansville Arena. The Tri-State Ford Dealers will pay $4.2 million over 10 years to name the building the Ford Center. The new arena is expected to create more than 300 part-time jobs when it opens later this year.

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is pleased to announce that the Tri-State Ford Dealers have acquired the naming rights for the new Evansville arena, which will hereafter be known as the Ford Center. The naming rights agreement, which will be presented to the Evansville Redevelopment Commission for approval on September 7, calls for the Tri-State Ford Dealers to pay the City of Evansville more than $4.2 million over a 10-year period.

“For a global company like Ford to decide that a marketing investment in Evansville is money well spent, well that just confirms that we’re a community on the rise and that we’ve got a stellar facility,” said Mayor Weinzapfel. “We obviously couldn’t predict what kind of response we’d receive when we put feelers out about naming rights for the new arena, especially in the current economic climate, so this is big time. Hats off to VenuWorks, particularly Steve Peters and Scott Schoenike, the Tri-State Ford Dealers, and everyone who made this deal possible.”

“The Ford Dealers throughout the Tri-State Region are excited to partner with the City of Evansville in becoming the naming rights partner of this fabulous facility. It will play an important role in transforming downtown Evansville. It is a place where they can showcase their world-class lineup of fuel efficient cars and trucks. This is a unique opportunity for the Tri-State Ford Dealers to support the City of Evansville while also reaching consumers outside their stores. The Ford Center is a first-class, state-of-the-art facility that mirrors what Ford is all about: Quality, Technology and Innovation,” said Rob Reynolds, Ford Senior Account Supervisor.

“These are indeed exciting times for the City of Evansville and the region with the construction of a new 11,000-seat facility now named the Ford Center. I believe you will see increased activity on Main Street as it transforms into a destination,” added Scott Schoenike, VenuWorks Executive Director, the firm that manages the Ford Center for the City.

The Ford Center is expected to draw more than 300,000 people through the doors in its first year with a variety of diverse family entertainment and sporting events, including serving as the home court for the University of Evansville men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the home ice for the Evansville IceMen hockey team of the Central Hockey League (CHL).

The Ford Center is expected to create more than 300 part-time jobs in positions such as ushers, ticket sellers, ticket takers, concessions, and catering. In addition, local businesses around downtown and throughout the Evansville area will certainly see a positive impact because of the Ford Center, particularly restaurants and bar establishments that event attendees will patronize before and after Ford Center events.

Source: City of Evansville & Report

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, February 20 2011

An Iowa company has been selected to manage the new arena in downtown Evansville. Project Director John Kish has been authorized to begin negotiations with VenuWorks for a final contract. The Evansville Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved another committee's recommendation to hire the company, which manages 36 facility in 17 communities.

Evansville, Ind. -- The Evansville Redevelopment Commission (ERC) voted unanimously this morning to direct Arena Project Director John J. Kish to begin negotiations with VenuWorks for management and coordinated operations of the new Evansville Arena, which will open this November. VenuWorks, based in Ames, Iowa, manages 36 facilities in 17 communities.

“I am pleased that the Redevelopment Commission heeded the recommendation to select VenuWorks to manage the new Evansville Arena,” said Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “VenuWorks has a proven track record of successfully opening new facilities in communities similar to Evansville, and I believe they have what it takes to help the City make the new Evansville Arena a great success,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

The decision to recommend VenuWorks to the ERC was made by a non-partisan committee that, according to Kish, unanimously agreed that VenuWorks was the best choice to manage and operate the new Evansville Arena. “The committee was particularly impressed by the commitment and involvement from VenuWorks’ senior management, as well as the company’s focus on mid-sized communities,” Kish said.

Steven L. Peters, president of VenuWorks, is enthusiastic about the opportunity to manage Evansville’s new arena. “This community is building a wonderful new facility that holds tremendous promise for the future of Evansville. We are honored that VenuWorks was selected to manage the arena and we will utilize our experience and resources to ensure it is a success.”

The new Evansville arena will be the region’s center for sports and entertainment, designed to host basketball, hockey, concerts, exhibitions, and shows for audiences as large as 11,000.

Source: City of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 11 2011

The Evansville City Council has unanimously voted to support a development agreement for a new hotel in the downtown area. Woodruff Hospitality was selected to build the $32 million Hyatt Place, which will be located adjacent to the new Evansville Arena. The hotel is expected to include 220 rooms and more than 300 parking spots.

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel applauds City Council’s unanimous vote this evening in support of a resolution affirming the Evansville Redevelopment Commission’s decision to move forward with an agreement to develop a new
hotel in downtown Evansville adjacent to the new Evansville Arena and The Centre.

“I appreciate City Council’s leadership in pushing this vitally important project to the next level,” said Mayor Weinzapfel. “A hotel of this caliber is essential to the continued revitalization of downtown Evansville and to our community’s ability to most effectively market The Centre and the new Evansville Arena to convention, trade show and event planners, not to mention tourists of all kinds.”

As Mayor Weinzapfel announced on December 21, 2010, the City is ready to finalize an agreement with Evansville firm Woodruff Hospitality to develop a new $32 million Hyatt Place hotel with 220 guest rooms and suites, as well as banquet and meeting facilities to complement those at The Centre.

“Not only is this a positive step for our community, but it’s shaping up to be a good deal financially, especially when compared to the incentives other communities have offered for similar projects. Plus, this project will create hundreds of good paying jobs during construction over the next year and its subsequent operation," Weinzapfel said at the time.

The agreement will stipulate that the hotel site include at least 305 parking spaces for its operation. Those spaces will also be available for arena functions. The developer will be responsible for all operating and other expenses of the new hotel and parking facility, as well as for the demolition of what remains of the former Executive Inn and its parking garage. If for some reason it is less expensive or otherwise more logical for the City to undertake the
demolition of the former Executive Inn, the incentives will be adjusted accordingly.

The City is in a position to offer public incentives not to exceed $3,500,000 from downtown economic development funds pledged by Casino Aztar; up to $4,500,000 in loans supported by the downtown TIF, not general property taxes; and up to a 10-year property tax phase-in schedule as allowable by law. In comparison, Fort Wayne officials provided a parking facility and more than $1 million for infrastructure improvements, an annual subsidy of $250,000 for at least 10 years, $6 million worth of income tax credits, the construction of a skywalk, and other incentives to spur the development of a new nationally-affiliated hotel near the new baseball stadium in downtown Fort Wayne.

The local development agreement will call for the utilization of local workers and the hiring of local construction companies, engineers and architects to the fullest extent possible. The City also will request that local minority- and women-owned businesses be utilized for a total of 21% of the work.

The development agreement is based on the responses to the initial request for proposals the Evansville Redevelopment Commission (ERC) issued in September to solicit concepts for the development, design and construction of a new hotel and determine the type and amount of public incentives that would be necessary for such a development in the current economic climate.

Woodruff Hospitality was one of four respondents to the initial RFP. Responses were also received from Browning Hotel Associates LLC (Indianapolis), White Lodging Services Corporation (Merrillville) and The Kunkel Group (Evansville), which joined Woodruff in its bid
for the hotel project shortly after the responses were received.

The ERC endorsed these incentives at its meeting on January 3, 2011, and will incorporate them into its final request for proposals for the hotel development as required by State law. The ERC
will consider all responses it receives to its RFP and expects a final agreement to be concluded in March 2011.

Woodruff Hospitality was formed approximately five years ago to acquire, renovate and manage hotel properties. Martin Woodruff, also a State Farm Insurance agent, is Woodruff Hospitality’s
majority owner and principle; and Jeff Stratton is Vice President of Finance. Woodruff Hospitality has engaged Evansville-based Landmark Design & Engineering, Inc., owned by David Stallings, to work with Hyatt corporate officials to design and engineer the new hotel facility.

Source: City of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, September 19 2009

The start of construction on the new downtown Evansville arena is going to mean the start of big traffic headaches in the surrounding area.
Now, we know what form those headaches will take.
Hafer Associates, one of the design firms on the project, discussed Tuesday at an Evansville Redevelopment Commission meeting what traffic patterns will have to change downtown to accommodate the arena construction.
The city will shutdown the southeast-bound lanes of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Walnut and Main once the building process gets under way.
"While we recognize that it is one of the most traveled arteries downtown, it is also adjacent to a construction site where a building several stories tall is going to be constructed," said Jeff Justice, with Hafer Associates. "So, we have to have room around that facility to accommodate all of the lifts and construction vehicles that are necessary to build the exterior envelope of the arena."
He said traffic will still flow both directions on MLK.
The change will just confine drivers to one lane each way on the currently northwest-bound side.
Crews will take out the median for fencing then replace the median when the project is done.
And, the closures don't stop there.
The arena will sit on top of what is now locust street between MLK and 6th.
So, that part of Locust will be gone for good.
There's 6th street, too.
The city will go a step further there than it will on MLK.
"There is a two-way street just to the river side of that, 5th St., so we felt like it was possible to be able to completely close 6th St. between Main St. and Walnut," Justice said.
The Evansville Philharmonic offices and the Victory Theatre sit at the corner of 6th and Main Sts.
The organization will feel the effects of this as much as anyone.
But, Executive Director Glenn Roberts isn't worried.
"We don't have any major concerns about it," he said. "It's going to be a little noisy for us as they do the construction. And, as far as, patrons coming to the philharmonic for concerts, we know that the traffic will be redirected, and patrons mostly come from the north. So, it's not really an issue for us."
The Signature School also sits in that area.
And, Justice said his firm and the city are working with the school to accommodate its unique concerns, like car pool pick up at the end of the day.
He said these closures will likely go into effect around the start of November and run through the completion of the arena.
Redevelopment Commission President Bob Goldman said the road closure discussion at the meeting was purely informative for his board.
It took no action on the matter.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 04 2009
An Evansville attorney files a claim against the Executive Inn Hotel, which has the potential to slow down construction of the city's new downtown arena.

NEWS 25 has been following this story and talked to arena project coordinators to find out the implications of this move.

NEWS 25 obtained a copy of the paperwork which lists intentions of holding a lien against the hotel for $127,200. It was filed last Wednesday with the County Recorder, but the man behind this action tells NEWS 25 his intention is not to hamper the building of the new arena.

Since 1975 the law office of Evansville attorney, Ron Freson has been inside the Executive Inn, on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Tuesday NEWS 25 obtained the document, which states Freson's intent to hold a lien against the hotel.

NEWS 25 went to talk to Freson to find out more about his intentions. He did not want to issue a public statement but tells NEWS 25 demolition of a section of the hotel violates his lease agreement which doesn't expire until 2012. Freson says he wants to be compensated for damages and expenses his firm will suffer, with him losing his office space, and having to relocate.

"Mr. Freson is the only tent ant in the part of Executive Inn that is to be demolished and we know he has a lease and he's been trying to negotiate with the owners, Mutual Bank for sometime," says John Kish, Evansville Arena Project Coordinator. Now Freson is left to negotiate with the hotel's new owners, United Central Bank, who took over the property after the FDIC got involved with the hotel's previous owner's, Mutual Bank.

"The financial ramification of that negotiation are between him and the owner of the real estate and we're buying it free and clear of claims." 

NEWS 25 asked Kish, "Is this going to hold-up the demolition process?"

Kish says "We're confident that it will not interrupt the schedule for demolition." He did tell us demolition is about three weeks behind schedule, due to the FDIC involvement, and part of the hotel should come down by the third week in September.

We did talk to a United Bank spokesperson who would not comment about the lien because of the sensitive nature. The Executive Inn's new General Manager tells NEWS 25 it's still business as usual at the hotel until the sale of the property is finalized.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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