Friday, February 25, 2005

Jobs, Sports, Performing Arts with New Arena

Mayor Jack Ford announced today a development team for a new Toledo arena. Columbus-based Pizzuti Co. will be joined by local contractor The Lathrop Company and downtown Toledo based architect & engineering firm SSOE to launch and build the project. A $50,000 feasability study will begin immediately, which will look at among other questions site location and financing. The East Side site is the choice of the Mayor, myself and several of my colleagues - out of respect to voters who approved the location with the Section 79 vote.

Pizzuti is the lead developer of Toledo's Marina District and recently scored a major success with Nationwide Arena in Columbus. I joined the Mayor at the announcement and recalled the excitement of the Mud Hens ballpark project. We can envision luring NCAA Basketball tournaments, major recording and performing artists, Toledo Storm hockey, rodeos, and other special events.

Under Mayor Ford's leadership of this project, several hundred local building and construction trade jobs and impressive spin-off business from the arena is expected. More details to follow...


Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

I assume that down the road you may be looking forward to public service in a broader sphere than your fair city.

If that is the case,it would be nice to get to know you better outside of Toledo.

Some things that will help: post your bio on the profile page and don't just let it slip down into the Archives of your posts, do the other goofy stuff on the same profile page--it gives you a human dimension beyond your political identity, finally, start a blogroll of links to other active Ohio Dem and Progressive sites and send them an e-mail requesting a reciprocal link. You can find a good, fresh list of these sites on my blogroll here:

On that list you will note that I am already linked to you. That is how the blogosphere works.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an urban planner, I find it interesting that you mention Nationwide Arena in Downtown Columbus because it is a cornerstone of the Arena District in that City and not a stand-alone project. Much of the success of that project is that it created a critical mass of sports entertainment, nightlife, hotel accommodations, and corresponding commercial service activity in that part of Columbus that is viable year round due to the overlap of sporting seasons and special events. This link paints a more comprehensive picture of the District as a whole and not just the Arena:

The District’s proximity to the adjacent revitalized Short North neighborhood also adds to the success of the area.

Similarly, in Detroit, the new Ford Field (home of Lions’ football) and Comerica Park (home of Tigers’ baseball). These two sports venues are clustered at the center of an urban village that includes shops, restaurants, offices, and other attractions.

Toledo has an opportunity to create the same type of sports entertainment district within direct proximity to the existing Warehouse District and new Entertainment District in Downtown Toledo on the west side of the Maumee River. Businesses created to attract customers from 5th/3rd Field currently flourish during baseball season, but see considerably less traffic during the winter months. Building a new Sports Arena within a five minute walk from 5th/3rd Field will allow these business to be successful year-round and allow the new arena to share existing parking accommodations. It creates the critical mass of activity seen in other Cities like Detroit and Columbus. It becomes a destination point. Keeping the two sporting venues separate in Toledo is more a function of political expedience than practical application of urban design and planning.

The Marina District is an extremely viable project and does not need a new Sports Arena as an anchor. The proposed mix of residential and commercial activity will most likely spill over into the Main Street/Front Street area and bolster its revitalization in tandem with the New Schools/ New Neighborhoods project nearby. Additionally, a new Arena is a very intense use that will generate an enormous amount of traffic and need for parking that is probably not appropriate for a marina/residential area that is proposing condominiums in the upper-middle income affordability range.

Finally, voters did not vote to approve the location with the Section 79 vote. They voted on funding approval for a new Sport Arena. The development project for the Marina District included a new Sports Arena, but that development plan no longer exists. Elected officials need to show leadership in regards to the location of the arena. A Downtown Arena is what is best for the City as a whole if emotion and political considerations are removed.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the anonymous comment from the urban planner. I was extremely excited to hear of plans to create a new venue to replace the eye-sore that is the Toledo Sports Arena. As an avid concert "goer." I have given up on the oppurtunity to see bands that could draw in a crowd too large to play at a bar. I am glad that "Club Bijou" is starting to become less of a dance spot and more of a concert hall again, but still feel that Toledo needs a several thousand seat arena. Every touring band in the country makes stops in Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, and Cleveland. They criss-cross daily through Toledo and never play here. I have grown up traveling with my father, and then with friends two-hours away every weekend to see a concert. It would be great if I didn't have to travel so far away for entertainment.

Like I said before, I couldn't agree more that the new location for the arena needs to be in close proximity to 5/3rd field. I think that 5/3rd field makes downtown look like a place worth being. An arena would definately help fill in those winter months with downtown traffic and buisness.

Please consider placing the arena within walking distance of 5/3rd Field.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of these posts - they are very helpful contributions to the debate.

As a staffer for the County Commissioners during the early stages of the Mud Hens ballpark project, I remember well the passion about "location."

The location question was settled after ballpark consultants Tom Chema and Patrick Zohn, and Joe Napoli the Hens GM quietly shopped naming rights, suite and exclusive seating packages and other marketing incentives to the private sector here in metro Toledo.

Fifth-Third paid $5 million for naming rights. I think about 15 suites sold for $250,000 each. Second tier seating packages sold at a premium. All in all a hefty chunk of the $39.2 million project was privately financed - virtually independent of posturing by my elder politicians.

Clearly, the Pizzuti team needs to reach out to Toledo's corporate community for private investment - the City certainly doesn't have the resources for a $50 to $60 million arena project.

Now, we also conducted several very well attended and influential town hall meetings - the input of each citizen counted. At the very first meeting with Pizzuti - on the Marina District plans early last year - I got a committment from them for meaningful town hall meetings.

My point is that we have a recent and highly successful model to draw on as we develop the Arena Project. Again, the thoughtful opinions expressed here should be read by potential investors. I believe that ultimately, like the Mud Hens ballpark, a public-private partnership will decide where the Arena will go.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

Thanks Frank!

I am just getting used to the idea of "blogging." I do think it is a wonderful thing for people in your position. I just hope more people start posting their thoughts.

What I think is wonderful about blogging is that people with busy schedules can take a little bit of time each day and see what conversation is developing among the everyday citizen. Take for example the success of this incredible Blog started by Bob Lutz who is GM Vice Chairman! He started a blog to have daily conversation with the consumers, I think it is helping to win people's hearts and make them feel like they are in contact with an otherwise faceless force. The web address for this blog is

I hope your blog will eventually generate much more conversation, but stick with it anyways because it help us feel involved in the community.

Thanks again!

8:58 AM  
Anonymous paul sullivan said...

time has come to settle on a site for the arena. However, i'm quite certain that public input will be given to the site selection process. while the proximety to the ball park makes some sense, it must not be at the expense of the historic building fabric which is the backbone to a rejeuvenated downtown.

might we consider and uptown location where another entertainment district is being formed? maybe part of a link along monroe street that goes from franklin park mall to toledo hospital to the toledo museum of art to the arena to the ballpark?
how about an urban development the scale of levis commons with an arena located between 17th street/monroe st/collingwood/ and the expressway?

this selection needs to have a great deal of input from many constituencies. we should not presume that the best or only location is in the marina district.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

thanks for your comments Paul. Tonight (3/8/05) at City Council we had first reading on the arena development agreement. I'm expecting some Marina District news in the next few weeks - sans arena - I'll ask the Ford Administration and Pizzuti to release a schedule of upcoming town hall meetings to more formally hear from the many constituencies you mentioned.

12:05 AM  

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