Private developer, arena revenues key parts of Auburn ice arena plan

AUBURN — The latest plan for a dual ice surface arena would involve a private developer with no property tax support paid by the city.

Recreation Department officials will present the plan to councilors at a workshop meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The meeting also will be shown live on Great Falls TV.

"What's important now is to get feedback from the council and from the public," said Denis D'Auteuil, Auburn's public services team leader. "At this point, no decisions have been made by the council, and we're waiting for that direction to move forward."

Plans call for building the new arena on privately owned land. Developer George Schott, who owns one of the parcels,  would build the $8.5 million facility and lease it to the city over the next 30 years. The city would have the option of buying the building outright every five years.

"The land would be donated to the city, and would be city owned at that point," he said. "Every five years, the city would have to open up the books and decide what they want to do — do they want to continue or buy it up?"

The new ice surfaces would replace Auburn's Ingersoll Ice Arena in Pettengill Park, which is home to several hockey programs, from youth hockey to adult leagues.

That includes the boys' high school hockey teams from Edward Little, Leavitt and Poland-Gray/New Gloucester, and the combined girls' hockey programs from Edward Little and Leavitt Area high schools.

It also would include the newly combined Auburn Youth Hockey and the Lewiston Area Youth Hockey League. Last season, the two leagues had more than 950 players enrolled.

Recreation officials estimate demand for an arena with seats for as many as 2,000 ice hockey spectators.

D'Auteuil said the Recreation Department is moving quickly, hoping to get the arena open by the 2013-14 youth hockey season.

"There is a high demand for ice time now," D'Auteuil said. "There just is not enough now, and we recognize there's an opportunity. There's an economic development opportunity to be a draw for tournaments. We have a need for local ice, but we see a real benefit for economic development."

The proposed rink would meet that, with seats for 1,200 spectators in one rink, 200 in a second rink, 300 in a shared mezzanine and standing room for hundreds more. The new arena also should feature 14 locker rooms for teams, a pro shop and second floor warm spectator area with a concessions stand.

According to the financial estimates, the facility would take in about $1.25 million in annual concession sales, rink advertisement and revenues from public skating, instruction and facility rentals.

The facility would cost about the same to operate each year. D'Auteuil estimates about $1.24 million in costs, with excess revenues going to a Recreation Department enterprise fund.

"I think one of the more significant parts is that we will use the facility's revenue to pay for it," he said. "It won't take property taxes to support, but it will be significant benefit for the city."

The city is looking at two possible sites for the arena.

One would be on the 75 acres owned by the YMCA, south of Stetson Road and east of Center Street. D'Auteuil said Schott would finance the building's construction under this proposal and lease it back to the city. The YMCA would retain ownership of the land.

A second option is the 8.5 acre lot west of Shaws on Turner Street's east side, behind the Masonic Temple and north of the Auburn Mall. That lot is owned by George Schott and he would lease it and the building to the city, according to the plan.

A third option, presented to councilors in May, has been discarded since then. That would have put the arena on 8.5 acres farther south along the west side of Turner Street.

"That had some environmental and permitting issues that pushed the other two sites forward," D'Auteuil said. "It's the council's decision which way we go and where it goes. The cost of the two sites, the development costs, will help guide that, I think. But there are a lot of variables to both sites."

staylor@sunjournal.com

Auburn Ice Surface Business PlanPro Forma

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SCOTT TAYLOR's picture
staff

Updated Friday morning.

Denis D'Auteuil, the Auburn Public Services team leader, identified Friday morning the potential developer who would lease the arena back to the city as Auburn Mall owner George Schott.
Schott owns one of the properties in question, the 8.5 acre lot west of Shaws on Turner Street's east side, behind the Masonic Temple and north of the Auburn Mall.
D'Auteuil said Schott would retain ownership of that land under that proposed scenario, leasing it and the building back to the city over the next 30 years.
Schott would pay for the building if the City Council goes with the proposal to build on YMCA land off of Stetson Road and Center Street. Schott would lease the building to the city in that scenario and the YMCA would retain ownership of the land.
The story has been updated with this information.

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