Thursday, February 12 2009
We wish Major Jonathan Weinzapfel all the best on his upcoming trip to the state House. Even tough the current economic situation is not the best, long term project of this magnitude and importance can have long lasting effects for Evansville. When we look back and see all the hurdles that have been overcome to build Roberts Stadium the same can be said about the new down town arena for Evansville. The changes will be positive for the Tri-State.
Weinzapfel lobbying for bill to pay for arena
EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Evansville's Mayor Weinzapfel and the project director for the downtown arena head to the state capitol Tuesday.
They'll be lobbying for a state bill to help pay for the new arena.
The two will head to the state House urging the passage of House bill 1588.
It's the last piece in the puzzle before the city starts selling bonds to fund the construction of the new arena.
Monday night's vote by the Evansville City Council, unanimously supporting a resolution to use food and beverage tax funds to build a new downtown arena, was the last of three projects developers hoped for.
Last week, the Vanderburgh County commissioners and the county council also unanimously supported the resolution.
"We're talking to state legislators tomorrow, taking these resolutions to Indianapolis to get the state legislature to give us the flexibility for using the food and beverage tax for the arena," Evansville Events Center project director John Kish said.
Both Kish and Mayor Weinzapfel will present the three resolutions supporting House bill 1588.
"Some are more detailed than others, but they all show the bipartisan support for redirecting this existing tax when it's no longer needed for the Centre," Kish said.
Under the bill sponsored by representative Dennis Avery, food and beverage tax funds currently used to pay bonds on the Centre will stay in place until 2017.
Between now and then, any extra money after those bond payments will be used to repay bonds on the new downtown arena.
After 2017 when the Centre is payed off, the estimated $4.7 million a year will go solely to the arena.
Kirsh says that money is vital to the project's financing.
"Food and beverage sales, we believe on the long term, will grow about 3 percent," Kish said. "We are not seeing growth in any other revenue source, so food and beverage really is the lynch pin in the finance plan."
Kish says he's already had plenty to work on for the new downtown arena, including working with architects, fine tuning the budget and talking to the owners of the D-Patrick Ford site where the arena is slated to be built.
When asked how the talks are going, Kish says "they're very interesting."