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Published: Tuesday, 5/8/2007

Sports Arena demolition possible in July

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
 It s a way to use the financial
resources of the treasurer s office to help move the community forward,  says Wade Kapszukiewicz. It s a way to use the financial resources of the treasurer s office to help move the community forward, says Wade Kapszukiewicz.
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Lucas County would likely pay for demolishing the Toledo Sports Arena, and the work could start in July, participants in negotiations between the city and the county said yesterday.

The demolition would be in exchange for the city's vacating of Superior Street and Frogtown Alley between Jefferson and Madison avenues for the new multipurpose arena downtown.

Robert Reinbolt, chief of staff for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, said, "there's going to be a trade-off."

"There's some other things we're looking at how they can help us on the Marina District and things we can legally and appropriately help with on the arena project," he said.

He said the right-of-way and the city's help in shutting off water and sewer connections have an estimated value of $300,000 to $350,000.

County officials are expected to seek bids on the demolition of the sports arena and seven or eight downtown buildings. The cost of including the arena has been estimated at between $400,000 and $500,000.

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the county wants to help the city with the Marina District project. He said combining the sports arena razing with the county's demolition objectives is an opportunity to do that, as well as save money by using one contractor.

The county's plan is to begin demolitions in July and start construction on an $85 million sports and concert facility in October.

Mr. Gerken said there may be an opportunity for the public to pay their final respects to the sports arena.

"We want to retire the building in a dignified way, maybe let the public in one last time in a way that's safe and meaningful," he said.

Still to be decided is how much salvage value the building has.

Former owner Tim Gladieux, who has continued to use the arena under his lease with the city, is entitled to recover personal property that relates to the hockey and concession businesses, such as the Zamboni, goal nets, and pop-dispensing equipment.

Mr. Reinbolt said there is a tentative plan to set aside about 100 of the red spectator seats to offer as souvenirs, in response to inquiries.

Mr. Gladieux said most of the more than 5,000 seats are original to the 1947 building. He said the seats could be of value to a seating manufacturer to have available as replacements in other old buildings and auditoriums, and that some Storm and sports arena fans might also be interested.

"I know I'd like to have a row of four," he said.

He said the light fixtures and structural steel also have salvage value.

The arena hosted its last Toledo Storm hockey game April 14.

Mr. Gladieux sold the building to the city in late 2005 for $5 million, along with a 25.5-acre parcel. The property is slated to be developed as part of the Marina District, a proposed shopping, residential, boating, and commercial project on the Maumee River's east bank.

In a written opinion provided to city council last week, City Law Director John Madigan said the city is free to provide vacated city right-of-way to the arena project.

Section 79 of the Toledo Charter prohibits city participation in "construction, acquisition, or leasing" of a sports arena, as well as of a convention center, exhibit hall, or municipal theater, unless the arena is in the Marina District project, without a vote of the public.

Mr. Madigan concluded that vacation of streets or alleys would not qualify as "construction, acquisition, or leasing" of a sports arena. Also not prohibited by Section 79 is infrastructure improvement, such as to utilities, streets, and curbs.

Council President Rob Ludeman, who had questioned whether the city could donate its right-of-way to the arena project, said the trade-off seems fair.

"I just want to make sure the city's compensated for [the vacation]," he said.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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