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Finkbeiner trumpets new sports arena plan

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Mayoral candidate Carty Finkbeiner told reporters and his supporters that an arena could be finished in two years.

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A major out-of-town developer is intent on building a sports arena and possibly an amphitheater in Toledo, mayoral candidate Carty Finkbeiner told reporters yesterday.

The arena project considered by International Facilities Group LLC of Northbrook, Ill., could take significantly less than the $80 million to $90 million mentioned in recent months, Mr. Finkbeiner said yesterday in front of the Toledo Sports Arena in East Toledo.

The project could be finished in two years. The location for the arena - in the proposed Marina District on the east side of the river or downtown - hasn't been considered yet, he said. He would welcome any outcome, Mr. Finkbeiner said.

"I want to respect that seven out of every 10 Toledoans have voted in September, 2001, to put that sports arena right in this Marina District," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "And if there is to be any infusion of the city of Toledo money ... there would have to be a vote of the taxpayers to affirm it or any other place than right here in East Toledo."

But he went on to say, "I want the individuals who will be bringing private money to the table to tell me where they think the best location could be, right here or somewhere near the Fifth Third Field or the Convention Center."

Under Mayor Jack Ford's plan, much of the funding for the sports arena would come from Lucas County. Mr. Finkbeiner made no mention of the county yesterday.

Mr. Finkbeiner said he had discussed the plan first with Neil MacKinnon III, local representative for IFG and co-owner of Nordmann Roofing Co. Inc. in Toledo, and then with Steven Edelson, IFG's managing director.

"We just have traveled down the road far enough that he is very comfortable [about the project], and I'm standing here today and giving you his name and the name of his organization, and we will affirm that there is a mutual interest here and there at his firm in doing this project in our city."

Corporate overview leaflets handed out by Mr. Finkbeiner say highlights of the firm's accomplishments since its inception in 1955 include the 1987 White Sox project with the Illinois Sports Facility Authority.

Mr. Finkbeiner said he's meeting with Mr. Edelson next week to discuss the project.

He said he is lucky to know Mr. Edelson through Mr. MacKinnon.

Mr. MacKinnon, who was present at the event, said he and Mr. Finkbeiner "go back to the late 1980s - early 1990s" and that he has known Mr. Edelson for seven years.

"I am confident that this team has a track record that we would be blessed to bring to the table here in the city of Toledo," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Mayor Jack Ford was unimpressed.

"Sounds like he's talked to one group and they've indicated some interest," Mayor Ford said. "There are many voices that will be heard on this, including the legislature, the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission, and those who are interested in [the arena project]. ... To come up with $70 million to $90 million is going to be a complicated project."

Contact Mike Sigov at:

msigov@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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