Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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An arena for Marina District

THE city's new request for proposals for developing the Marina District is both encouraging and discouraging.

This time city officials put a shiny gloss on the city, highlighting its assets and enthusiastically signaling both as inviting places in which to do business and grow. That's just super.

But while it emphasized the advantages of the riverside development, it seemed to shroud its "must-have" element: a new sports arena.

The arena is barely mentioned in the proposal request, though any would-be developer must plan for its inclusion, either alone or as part of the total project. The request notes it only as a site within the district that any developer must acquire and that its owner wants to help in the development.

Perhaps more troublesome, is that while the request cites the Mud Hens' 10,000-seat Fifth Third Field as an attraction, it does not deal with the seating capacity at the Sports Arena, home of the Toledo Storm, nor of the crowds drawn to Storm games or other events there.

Mayor Jack Ford has said he is committed to a new arena on the east side of the Maumee, downtown east, if you will. We hope the omissions aren't hints of waffling on this key point.

It may be that in the mayor's mind the two projects are separate, but can they be entirely so? The financing may well require separation. Even the intriguing proposal by Arena Management and Construction, which will foot the initial construction costs, would hit the city's bottom line, which has about bottomed out.

Still, it wouldn't hurt Toledo to keep an eye on Albuquerque, N.M., where city council in an 8-0 vote has approved a memo of understanding with AM&C for a 10,000-seat arena there. The way that agreement is drawn, the city could withdraw if it doesn't like the result of a feasibility study.

The city already has two potential arena developers, and the owner of the Sports Arena has a relationship with one of them. It shouldn't be so difficult to see how either fits into the overall plan.

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