Evansville Arena Stimulus Plan

Evansville, Ind., Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is using the nation’s economic situation as a selling point to get a new downtown arena built by calling the project “stimulus” for the city.

“There really couldn’t be a better time to build an arena,” the mayor said according to the Evansville Courier & Press. “It will create community pride, improve our quality of life and attract more prestigious and visible events to Evansville. An arena will be our own stimulus package.”

Weinzapfel added the project would put hundreds of people to work and wouldn’t raise property taxes.

If approved, the 11,000-capacity arena would replace by 2011 the aging, 12,252-capacity Roberts Stadium managed by SMG. The Roberts Stadium Advisory Board, comprising city business and labor leaders, voted Dec. 16 to move forward with the plan.

The cost to renovate Roberts Stadium has been estimated at about $90 million and Weinzapfel told the paper that property taxes would need to be raised by about $60 million for a new facility to be built at the Roberts site.

“The biggest [problem] is the insufficient rigging,” the mayor told the paper. “Acts like Rascal Flatts, Celine Dion and even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have passed on playing at Roberts because the rigging isn’t strong enough to support the weight of their equipment.”

The cost of building a new venue is estimated between $117 million and $127 million and the city plans to use tax increment funding, casino revenue and food and beverage tax revenue to fund the project, according to the Press.