Arena Project Feasibility Study Discussed in Public Forum

July 27, 2000

Bowling Green, Ky. - - Representatives from the Louis & Henry Group and The Goal Group were in Bowling Green Wednesday (July 26) to present options available for consideration in determining the feasibility of: 1) renovating E.A. Diddle Arena on the Western Kentucky University campus, and/or, 2) building a new facility as a cooperative project of the city of Bowling Green, Warren County and WKU.

The forum was the first public announcement of the findings of the consortium's research.

The Louis & Henry Group out of Louisville headed the study. Others contributing included The Goal Group of Clifton, Va., PricewaterhouseCoopers of Dallas, HOK Sports of Kansas City, and Turner Construction of Cincinnati.

Representing the Louis & Henry Group were the organization's chairman, Larry Leis, and president Rick Kremer. On hand from The Goal Group was Len Perna. Nearly 100 members of the media and the public had an opportunity to ask questions after the findings were announced.

Findings regarding a new arena suggested an 8,100-seat multipurpose facility of some 244,000 square feet with a horseshoe-shaped concert layout located on a 40-50-acre site (13 possible sites were considered). There would be 24 luxury suites and parking for 2,700 cars. The projected cost would be $59.6 to 66.7 million (plus land acquisition).

On the other hand, a renovation of Western's Diddle Arena would convert the current facility to 8,000 chair seats with 16 luxury suites, improved sound and lighting, more restrooms, air conditioning and elevators. And, there would be a 30,000-square foot addition to the building for practice use and to provide improved facilities for the Departments of Physical Education and Recreation, and Military Science. In addition, land on Old Morgantown Road across University Blvd. from the Arena could be purchased for parking more than 500 additional cars. Such a renovation is projected to cost in the neighborhood of $21.7 million (including land acquisition). It was noted that should the decision be made to build a new arena, Diddle Arena would still look at up to $10 million for needed improvements.

Major event promoters were lukewarm in their interest in placing major shows, etc., in a city without a track record for attending such events whether in a new arena or in Diddle Arena. However, marketing surveys indicated that Bowling Green and Warren County more nearly matched the prototype of a minor league baseball community than that of indoor professional sports (arena football, minor league hockey or minor league basketball). The Goal Group recommended the community study the prospects for minor league baseball.

"We want to thank Louis & Henry and all of their partners for the extensive work they have put in on this project," said WKU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig. "All of us are looking forward to getting their final report in the near future. We are all seeing this information in its incompleted form for the first time today. The city, the county and the University still need a chance to get together, study the options in that final report and make well-thought-out plans for our future."

The consortium expects to make its final report in about a month.

The study was commissioned by the city of Bowling Green, Warren County and the WKU's Hilltopper Athletic Foundation back in late April and represents the culmination of more than three months of extensive research.

-- WKU --