Arena/amphitheater plans use California blueprints

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Rossford Mayor Mark Zuchowski has been envisioning an arena in his city for more than seven years. Now, his vision is on paper.

The mayor and other city officials presented architectural plans for the $48 million arena/amphitheater complex officials hope to build near the intersection of I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike, at the so-called “Crossroads of America.”

“I’m so happy that the plans are fixed,” the mayor said. “Now we’re ready to go ahead with getting the financing and breaking ground.”

The 9,200-seat arena is modeled closely on the Centennial Garden Arena in Bakersfield, Calif., which city leaders visited last month.

Officials promise amenities never before seen in northwest Ohio. They continually compared their arena to much bigger facilities in Detroit and Columbus.

“The Palace [at Auburn Hills, Mich.] has 20,000 seats. The Schottenstein [Center in Columbus] has 20,000 seats. This plan has all the amenities that those two do,” said project manager Mike Fritz.

Among the amenities promised:

* Twenty-four corporate suites and eight party suites. The corporate suites will be 18 rows above the ice and available for long-term lease. The party suites will be about 70 feet above ice level and rented on a nightly basis.

* Special club seats, which would be purchased through the issuance of personal seat licenses. Club seats will be wider than most, and will give patrons access to a clubhouse with catering facilities and a bar. “These seats will blow away anything at Schottenstein,” Mr. Fritz said.

* “Potty parity.” The arena will have twice as many toilets for women as for men to avoid the lines standard outside the women’s restrooms at many facilities.

* Lots of places to spend money. The arena will feature 53 “points of sale” for food and beverages, a figure significantly higher than the industry average, Mr. Fritz said.

Last month, the Detroit Red Wings signed a pact to bring its top minor league affiliate to the Rossford arena. Olympia Entertainment of Detroit will manage the facility. The Red Wings and Olympia are owned by the Ilitch family, of the Little Caesars Pizza fortune.

The arena will feature two levels of seats; the top sections will be at a steeper bank to allow for better views. All seats will be upholstered.

The arena will feature a Red Wings merchandise store. Its kitchen facilities will be attached to the main arena structure, so that it can serve both the arena and the attached amphitheater.

The Bakersfield facility was designed by Rossetti Associates of Birmingham, Mich., which will be working on the Rossford project. SSOE Studios will be the lead architectural firm.

The Lathrop Co. will be the contracting manager on the project. Lathrop’s vice president of business development, Dick Lee, is the president of the Rossford Economic Growth Corp., which developed the arena concept and assembled the land at the Cross roads of America.

Bonds to finance the complex’s construction will be sold within the next five weeks, city officials said, with groundbreaking scheduled for May 1.

They plan to have the am phi theater ready in time for the summer concert season of 2000.

The arena is scheduled to open in November, 2000.

Toledo city officials are pondering the construction of a downtown ice arena. The Toledo Sports Arena in East Toledo is home to the Toledo Storm hockey team.