Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

New arena proposed in Valpo, possibly at current hospital site

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A consultant working with the city of Valparaiso and other agencies has recommended that a new sports arena is built in conjunction with Valparaiso University, possibly at the site of the current Porter Hospital.

The consulting firm of hunden strategic partners (HSP) has recommended against two other facilities it studied -- a convention center and hotel -- but said these projects could be considered over the next 10 years.

HSP was retained to explore the feasibility of a convention center, a full-service meeting hotel, and a sports and entertainment arena in the Valparaiso area. Among the groups participating in the study are the city of Valparaiso, the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Convention.

HSP’s study recommended the construction of an arena at the current Porter Hospital site or another site near Valparaiso University. The arena, estimated to cost $25 million to $45 million, could include 5,000 seats, up to 12 luxury suites, 400 club seats, a private club/restaurant, concession stands, 4,000 square feet of meeting rooms, training and sports medicine rooms and a workout facility.

Porter Hospital is planning to relocate from its current Valparaiso campus near VU to a new hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in Liberty Township.

A 200-plus room conference hotel, convention center, and related developments such as restaurants could be explored in the second and third phases of the project, according to the HSP report.

HSP said current market conditions do not warrant a full-service conference center at this time. “However, we believe that the development of a full-service meetings hotel is a logical next step and should be reconsidered in the next three to five years, especially if an arena is developed,” the report says.

HSP’s recommendation for a sports arena hinges on active participation by Valparaiso University. “Without VU’s participation, a new arena is not feasible,” the HSP report says.

The study does not identify specifically how a new arena would be funded, but notes that if the arena is built in partnership with VU, there is a possibility of private donors and major corporate support. But the study also says that few arenas have been built in the last generation that have produced the funds necessary to repay debt service without support from non-operating revenues.

“Based on the information gathered .... a new arena to be used by both the community and university is appropriate. As with all such facilities, funding the development costs is the critical first step,” the study says.


Posted 4/1/2009




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