CORALVILLE — A proposed $70 million arena and sports center in Coralville received some financial backing from Johnson County Thursday.
The five-member Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, 5-0, to provide $200,000 for the relocation of museums to new facilities within the Iowa River Landing and show the Iowa Economic Development Authority the county supports the arena project with financial backing.
The more than 6,000-seat arena and Iowa Fitness and Sports Performance Institute is the centerpiece to a $190 million redevelopment project in Coralville’s 180-acre Iowa River Landing, which includes a field house, retail space, hotels and restaurants.
“It’s just a quality-of-life issue,” said Supervisor Mike Carberry. “Johnson County is a great place. This will make it a better place.”
To help fund the project, Coralville officials have applied for $12 million from the IEDA’s state-funded Reinvestment District Program, which allows new state sales excise taxes generated to be reinvested in the district. At its last meeting, IEDA members said they wanted to see financial support from Johnson County for the project before moving ahead with the proposal.
Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/ Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he hopes the IEDA approves the funding at its meeting on June 17.
Johnson County supervisors cited a potential economic boost as one reason to support the arena. They estimate the entire development would trigger $1.4 billion in consumer spending over the next 20 years.
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“It’s a huge economic boost to our economy,” said Supervisor Janelle Rettig, noting the 338 full- and part-time jobs expected to be created in building the arena. “That’s a big deal.”
The county’s contribution to the project is earmarked for relocating the Johnson County Historical Society Museum, the Antique Car Museum of Iowa and the Hawkeye Model Railroad Club so they are housed together at the Iowa River Landing. Rettig said she is enthusiastic about the funding going directly to the museums because it adds an intellectual component to the entertainment and athletic component the arena would bring.
Schamberger told supervisors that once the IEDA approves the funding, Coralville officials plan to choose a construction manager and expect the final designs to be completed by June 2017. He also said Coralville expects to take ownership of the arena after its completion in April 2019.
The city plans the arena and field house to be used for athletic tournaments, as well as special events like concerts. It also would be home to the University of Iowa’s club hockey teams, local youth hockey programs and have potential to be home to a professional hockey franchise.