Saturday, January 22, 2000

Feasibility studied for NKU arena

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Backers of a $30 million, multifunction arena at Northern Kentucky University hope a feasibility study under way generates financial support in the 2002 Kentucky General Assembly.

        “When it became clear this wasn't going to be included in this budget process, we needed to be in a position for future budgets,” said Mike Baker, NKU's vice president for administrative affairs.

        “Once we have drawings, we can start to generate excitement and funding.”

        A market study released last year found that Northern Kentucky is in dire need of a 6,000- to 7,500-seat arena. That same study also found NKU alone could not support such a facility.

        The $120,000 feasibility study will look at everything from the design to the funding of an arena.

        A steering committee of NKU staff and community leaders will work with the architectural firm Omni Associates of Lexington.

        The feasibility study is expected to be finished in 120 days. NKU and private donations are covering costs.

        “The absence of an arena or convocation center in a community this size is unusu al,” said NKU President James Votruba. “It restricts our ability to put on performances and attract speakers and other types of activities important to the quality of life and economic development of the region.

        “If we undertake this, we do it in partnership with the community.”

        The feasibility study will create a plan for the building's design and use of space as well as artist's renderings. The economic impact, possible funding sources and ways the arena could make a profit will also be considered.

        Dr. Votruba said the arena could be used for NKU basketball games, graduation ceremonies, high school athletic events and tournaments and communitywide concerts and speakers.

        There could be retail activity combined with the center and a public ice rink.

        “We'll need money from somewhere. We can't carry it alone,” Dr. Votruba said.

        Naming rights could be sold for $3 million to $4.5 million. The state would be asked to contribute. And a partnership could be created with Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties to look for bonding potential.

        “As we look at whether we are to go Division I, the facility becomes very important,” Dr. Votruba said. “This is a next step in putting together a plan.”


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