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2009 Media Releases


Date:
January 13, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


ARENA VOTE DELAYED DUE TO UNCERTAIN ECONOMY

Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City and its partners will delay the public vote on the proposed arena project in the West Haymarket area. The Mayor said the sports marketing company ISG (International Stadia Group) remains strongly interested in the project, and the firm could provide as much as half of the project's total cost. But ISG's development plans in the U.S. have been slowed by the national economy.

"Without resolution of the ISG issue, we will not be able to provide Lincoln voters with the most complete picture of what will appear on the ballot," Beutler said. "We have made tremendous progress in building this proposal and finding the answers to the tough questions. We do not want to jeopardize the faith of Lincoln residents by putting forward a package that doesn't adequately answer the question of arena financing. A delay allows us to better answer this question and gives the public more time for greater input and discussion."

Mayor Beutler said the economy's impact on Lincoln workers and the City budget are other factors in the delay. "It is difficult to focus on providing a solid future for the next generation when you are anxious and confused about the present," he said. "We can expect a difficult City government budget next year as we struggle with slowing revenues. Many will be concerned about spending new money even as we struggle to maintain funding for important City services."

Beutler said public discussions as well as work on the financing and site plans will continue. "Delay does not mean abandonment," he said. "As Mayor of this community, it is my responsibility to prepare us for the future. Lincoln is in jeopardy of losing our high school sports championships, which generate millions of dollars of economic impact. Events continue to pass by Lincoln due to the inadequacy of Pershing."

The Mayor said the additional jobs created by the arena's construction and operation also are important to Lincoln's working families. He cited the example of the State Capitol, a project Nebraskans continued even during the Great Depression.

"They continued to build it despite the difficult economic times because of the jobs the Capitol's construction could create," he said. "But I think they understood an even deeper truth: great societies don't put off the future, they embrace it. The arena must happen, even if it means some sacrifice. Delaying the public vote will allow us to present an even stronger vision of the West Haymarket Arena to the community and is the right course. It will be worth the wait."

Statement from Jeff Woodbury, Principal, Woodbury Corporation:

"As a developer working in many different communities across the country, we are often confronted with deadlines that are extended for practical concerns. Undue pressures generally increase costs. Although changing deadlines are not politically popular, it is important that a project move forward in a prudent manner. We continue to be excited about this project, and a change in the deadlines in this case will ultimately make this a better project. We have spent a significant amount of resources toward making this project a reality and will continue to spend the necessary resources toward making it a reality."

Statement from Steve Moore, President of North and South America for ISG - International Stadia Group:

"We at ISG believe that the Haymarket Arena project has significant long term benefit to this community and to the University. While we are disappointed that the current financial market conditions have constrained our ability to move forward at present, we remain confident that the unique content (basketball, volleyball and concerts) and corresponding appeal to students, alumni, local fans and corporations will enable us, working together with the City of Lincoln and the University, to finance the project once stability returns to the financial markets."


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