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Published: Wednesday, 6/13/2007

Drawings reveal arena design; public input sought on $85M project for downtown Toledo

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Preliminary designs for Toledo s new downtown sports arena boast an oval-shaped building with an entirely glass entryway facing the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Huron Street.

Lining the building along those same streets, the plan proposes a plaza with grass, hedges, and trees, which will provide a walking area for downtown visitors and arena patrons.

The designs will be presented to the public for the first time today at a 2 p.m. news conference at the SeaGate Centre. And a public forum seeking the community s input on the architecture and layout of the $85 million multipurpose arena will be held at 6 tonight in Room 104 at SeaGate Centre.

The corner of Jefferson and Huron will be the site of the main enterance to the $85 million, multipurpose arena. The corner of Jefferson and Huron will be the site of the main enterance to the $85 million, multipurpose arena.
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Other than the actual construction site of the arena and the general shape of the structure, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop said most other aspects are formative and adaptations can fairly seamlessly be integrated into the design.

Tonight s forum mirrored after those held during the design of Fifth Third Field will be the first of three meetings to gauge what Lucas County residents want the arena to look and feel like.

The others will be June 19 in Oregon City Council chambers and June 20 at the Sylvania branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, also beginning at 6 p.m.

Very few decisions have been set in stone at this point, Mr. Konop said.

We can truly incorporate ideas from the community into the arena.

Due to space constraints at the construction site, the largest the arena can be built is roughly 250,000 square feet, which could seat up to 10,000 people.

Some ideas already floating around the community, Mr. Konop said, include a public park outside the arena and a gallery for sculpture and other works of art.

There also have been suggestions to include a beer garden either inside or outside, he said.

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the board of commissioners, said some of the best ideas for Fifth Third Field came from the public.

The Kansas City-based design firm, HNTB, provided an architectural basis for the downtown arena, but it s ultimately up to the community to make the facility their own, Ms. Wozniak said.

Residents who have attended concerts or sporting events at other multipurpose arenas will have the chance to share what they liked and potentially see their suggestions integrated into Toledo s design.

This is their arena, she said.

Mr. Konop said a large part of making the entire project a success is getting input on the types of events that residents would like to see there.

We want to make sure the public is going to be excited and supportive of what will go on at the arena, he said.

We don t want to build an arena and have three-quarters of it empty for every event.

Patrick Zohn, a partner with The Gateway Group, a sports consulting firm in Cleveland, reviews the downtown Toledo location of the new multipurpose arena. Patrick Zohn, a partner with The Gateway Group, a sports consulting firm in Cleveland, reviews the downtown Toledo location of the new multipurpose arena.
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The arena will be built at street level on a site bounded by Huron, Jefferson, and Madison Avenue, and will occupy part of what is now Superior Street.

Last week, the commissioners completed purchase agreements totaling about $6 million to obtain much of the land needed for the project.

Negotiations are ongoing regarding the acquisition of a parking lot on Superior and another on Jefferson. County spokesman David Mann said yesterday deals for both properties are expected to total $1.7 million and should be finalized in the near future.

Constructing the arena at grade as opposed to below-grade like Fifth Third Field, is a cost-saving measure of a few million dollars, according to Patrick Zohn, a partner with The Gateway Group, a Cleveland sports facility consulting firm that also was part of the Fifth Third Field project.

Unlike the baseball stadium, the arena will be used for a variety of entertainment purposes and needs an easily accessible loading dock, Mr. Zohn said.

You could have a hockey game on a Saturday afternoon and that night load [equipment] in for a comedy show, he said.

Some area residents have suggested the arena should be environmentally friendly, which is something the commissioners said they completely support.

We are stressing that in every stage of the building process, Mr. Konop said.

In addition to building an energy-efficient arena, commissioners want to involve public transportation officials in the design process to avoid added congestion in the area.

That way, Lucas County can be ahead of the curve in terms of building a green facility, Mr. Konop said.

We are committed to make it the most environmentally friendly arena in the country, he said.

Contact Laren Weber at: lweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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