FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - New life springs back up for the downtown arena proposal that just two years ago was tossed aside.
In a sit-down interview Thursday, where Mayor Tom Henry discussed accomplishments from 2019 and priorities he will pursue in 2020, he said an arena in the core of the city is not dead yet.
In 2017, plans were scrapped for a downtown center to host sporting events and concerts after a consultant's report said the proposed $105-million facility would lose money.
Henry said within the confines of his office this past year, discussion about such a project came back to life.
"Because we still think an arena has potential in our community," Henry said.
He believes the Indiana Pacers would love to see a downtown home for the Mad Ants games, and that other major players back the idea of a 5,000 to 6,000 seat venue.
The arena concept might be more appealing, not less, if the giant Electric Works project can't get off the ground.
Henry says he wants the project to work, but acknowledges if the developers fail to lock down an anchor tenant, a major hurdle to be cleared, it might be time to strongly consider a scaled back "Plan B".
"I think those are very valid questions, and they're very much in play right now," Henry said.
Henry also said he expects serious discussions will take place in 2020 about landing a project for the old OmniSource property just north of the Martin Luther King Bridge.
When asked if he thought it's possible that an announcement about a future development for the site might come in 2020, he said, "Is it possible, absolutely."
Henry also credited concentrated foot patrols by the group Fort Wayne United as one reason the city is seeing a significant drop-off in the homicide rate in 2019.
He expects those efforts can be expanded to other areas of the city going forward, to make an even bigger dent in the city's violence problems.