FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Fort Wayne’s mayor has scrapped plans for a new downtown arena and events center, saying Thursday that the project didn’t have enough public support.
City officials had been considering the arena project over the past couple years to help draw larger conventions and other events in conjunction with the existing Grand Wayne Center.
Mayor Tom Henry said he had concluded that he couldn’t seek funding from state legislators toward the estimated $105 million project.
“As an elected leader, I don’t feel as though it would be fair to ask for their support during the 2018 legislative session when our community hasn’t yet embraced the project,” Henry said in a statement. “I believe we shouldn’t make a long-term decision that just isn’t ready and fully supported.”
Preliminary plans were for an arena with a seating capacity of 5,500 for sporting events and concerts, along with a parking garage and a connector to the Grand Wayne Center. The proposed location was just west of the current convention center, meaning some existing businesses faced being displaced.
But a report from consulting firm Victus Advisors released Thursday projected that the arena would draw only about 10 new events a year to the city and would mostly shift activity from other venues, including the 13,000-seat Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on the city’s north side and downtown’s 2,500-seat Embassy Theatre.
“In order to generate greater net new economic/fiscal impacts, a new event center would need to generate a larger number of new event activity and visitors that are not currently present within the market,” the report said.