When Randy Gunlock pulled the trigger on his dream of building an ice arena at Austin Road, the Montgomery County Commissioners scrambled to try to boost the hotel tax to the max, without any public discussion. He didn’t even have to have a team, show drawings, provide proformas- nothing.
Now that Dayton Bombers owner, Costa Papista throws an alternate vision that makes a lot more sense and costs less, all of a sudden, all the negatives come out.
The big piece is money. The cost is estimated at under $30 million for a downtown arena housing the Dayton Bombers, and $60 million to $100 million for a hockey arena and events center at the Austin Pike interchange slated for Interstate 75.
“People should dream. They should have big ideas. But it has to be sustainable and you have to be able to pay for it,” said state Sen. Jon Husted, R-Kettering. “But we can’t afford two arenas. That I’m pretty sure of.”
He and state Rep. Clayton Luckie, D-Dayton, said the financially strapped state has no money to offer. The city and Montgomery County are also in difficult financial straits.
“Under any scenario this would not be a predominantly publicly funded facility,” said City Manager Rashad Young, admitting he is excited about the prospect of a downtown arena but cautions that a market study must prove there is demand for it.
“If you build this thing for people will they actually come?” Young said. “And you have to build that into the financial framework.”
Both arena projects require feasibility studies, financing plans, guaranteed tenants and solid revenue streams, experts say.
The Bombers would be a tenant for the downtown arena, an undetermined American Hockey League team is envisioned for Austin Landing, and both hope to draw youth hockey leagues hungry for ice time and willing to pay.
“Ice facilities are among the most expensive to build and the most expensive to operate. It’s hard to make money off them,” said Julie Skolnicki, the Columbus-based regional vice president of Brailsford and Dunlavey, a Washington, D.C., facilities planning and program management firm.
Note that now, we’re actually requiring “experts” to weigh in, when it was just Randy Gunlock and Mandalay Entertainment(maybe) it was full steam ahead.
Dayton is still a good-ole-boy network town. Maybe that’s why we were bigger than Atlanta in 1950, but a small dot on the map today? Who picks these idiots we allow to run for office? Why did the County have their secret talking points memo for the Austin Road Arena, and two days after the Papista plan surfaces we’re seeing sabotage in the press? And, remember, Jon Husted just got hired by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce on the side from his Senate seat. Did Papista not pay his Dayton Chamber dues and Gunlock did?
If this doesn’t stink to you, you aren’t paying attention.