Citing a need for “more time” in developing a plan for its replacement, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced Tuesday that the Civic Center Arena would remain open until March 1, 2018. As recently as last week, the administration maintained the venue would be closing in April 2016.
The two-year extension will allow the administration more time to make a decision and allow for more collaboration with citizens, city spokeswoman Laura Byrne said.
“The reason for this decision is simply that we need more time to get this right and we have too much at stake to rush it,” Stimpson read from a statement at Tuesday’s council meeting.
While a desire to take time and ask for citizen involvement for such a big project was the main reason for Stimpson’s decision, Byrne also acknowledged that SMG, the company managing the facility had been having more success booking top talent at the facility. Byrne said the recent news of bookings such as Elton John, Kevin Hart and Katt Williams and similar success in the future could lessen the financial burden caused by leaving the facility open.
“We project that the time frame to deliver this roadmap will be approximately two years. Effective immediately, we are asking SMG to grant scheduling requests up until March 1, 2018, which is after the 2018 Mardi Gras festivities,” Stimpson said.
The administration has previously stated the Civic Center is losing roughly $2 million a year. SMG and the city have also both claimed renovation of the facility would be in the $20 to $40 million range.
Civic Center General Manager Bob Brazier said delaying the closure was not only good news for SMG, but for the many other events the civic center hosts.
“The mayor made a lot of people happy today,” he said. “The mayor wanted a comprehensive plan before he closed it and that makes perfect sense.”
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