Tuesday, November 14, 2000

$10M in donations asked for NKU arena

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquire

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — The community needs to raise about $10 million to build a multipurpose arena at Northern Kentucky University. That was the challenge two legislators delivered Monday at a news conference at NKU while announcing details of a plan to pay for a proposed $30 million arena through state and private sources.

        “Gov. (Paul) Patton said, if the community rallies around a new arena, he would consider it for his 2002 budget,” said House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan, D-Wilder. He said that would put the arena on schedule to be opened in 2004.

        Mr. Callahan was joined at the news conference by state Rep. Jon Draud, R-Crestview Hills, who was instrumental in getting state money for NKU's $38 million science center, which is under construction.

        The legislators are forming a task force to measure the corporate community's willingness to contribute money for the arena.

        One suggestion is to sell the arena's naming rights.

        The school's current are na, which is home to NKU basketball, is Regents Hall. The 2,000-seat arena was built 30 years ago for $1million.

        The new arena would hold not just NKU sporting events, but also concerts, high school basketball, and business and community events.

        Mr. Draud said it would

        seat 6,500 but could be expanded to hold 10,000. Seating would be arranged in a horseshoe shape.

        It would be built on the campus baseball field next to Regents Hall.

        Mr. Draud said the state's other regional universities — including Eastern Kentucky, Murray State and Western Kentucky universities — all have arenas with seating ranging from 6,500 to 11,300.

        He said the new arena would allow NKU to hold its graduation ceremonies, now held at the Firstar Center, on campus.

        Feasibility studies have found a niche for a 6,500-seat multifunctional arena at NKU. It's estimated the arena would hold 90 to 100 events a year.

        Some question how much impact the facility would have beyond the university.

        “From the viewpoint of an outsider, my sense is that facilities like these on a college campus are very heavily utilized by the universities themselves,” said Doug Kirchhofer, president and CEO of the Firstar Center in Cincinnati.

        “What normally happens is that the university has so many activities that the university keeps it filled.”


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