Hutchinson Arena Renovation Project
In March of 2013, during the annual NJCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Mayor Bob Bush and City Manager John Deardoff met with Mary Ellen Leicht, Executive Director and her staff to talk about the tournament and address any issues or concerns. The meeting between the City and NJCAA officials has been an annual occurrence. The 2013 meeting took on a different tone than past meetings. NJCAA officials asked the City to share our thoughts on future capital improvements planned for the immediate future at the sports arena. The City at the time had no major improvements planned other than continue a high level of maintenance. The NJCAA shared some of their concerns with the facility and what could be done to improve the overall tournament experience for the players, fans, media and team officials.
It was pointed out to the City that the tournament is under contract with the American Legion until 2017 with a possible 3 year contract extension option. The NJCAA has numerous other communities and schools wanting a chance to host the annual event. The NJCAA indicated a desire to keep the tournament in Hutchinson, but also suggested that the City needed to look at improvements to the facility as an effort to secure the tournament long-term.
In October of 2013, Mary Ellen Leicht, the NJCAA Executive Director made a trip to Hutchinson to meet with the city manager, Mayor and Vice Mayor. The purpose of the meeting was for the Executive Director to communicate directly with the Mayor and Vice Mayor her concerns and what specifically they would like to see the City do with the arena to enhance the tournament experience. Leicht shared that the NJCAA would consider accepting bids or proposals to host the tournament in future years. The suggestions were not threats, just straightforward conversation on what the NJCAA would like us to do in order to keep the tournament long-term.
From this conversation, the City met with HCC and American Legion officials to discuss the situation and how we might begin to address the concerns raised by the NJCAA. All parties agreed that the tournament was an important event in our community and we needed to get to work on addressing some of the building issues. Additionally the parties agreed that improvements to be considered needed to address not only the concerns of the NJCAA, but also address the needs of HCC and the community.
The City Council discussed the conversations in November and directed the city manager to establish a Steering Committee to begin exploring facility improvements and upgrades. The Committee held six (6) meetings since the kick off meeting on July 31, 2014.
The Steering Committee members included:
- Michele Abernathy
- LeAnn cox
- Jon Daveline
- Steve Drach
- Bob Fee
- Richard Gray
- Dan Naccarato
- Darrel Pankratz
- Jerry Ricksecker
- Ron Sellers
In January of 2014, the City solicited Request for Qualifications from architectural firms to help prepare a master plan for improvements. Three firms were interviewed for the project and one firm was recommended by the committee. In February, the City Council hired the firm of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey (SJCF) who teamed up with Sink Combs Dethlefs (SCD) to work with the task force and develop a planning partnership to conduct an in depth review of the needs of the arena.
The design team began their work in March during the 2014 basketball tournament. The design team conducted a series of focus group meetings with the various stakeholder groups. The focus groups consisted of HCC, City, Chamber, CVB, USD 308, American Legion, NJCAA. Each group identified areas of needs for their respective events or programs.
The architectural consultant team went to work translating these needs into viable project concepts to meet the short and long –term needs of the various users/stakeholder groups. The major shortcomings of the existing arena identified during the master planning work with the architectural team, focus groups and the committee include:
• Locker room deficiencies
• Lack of functional loading and staging
• Limited restrooms and concession amenities
• Inadequate space for practice and warm up areas
• Outdated graphics and Hall of Fame recognition
• Limited office space for HCC athletics
• Disorganized access and parking for vehicles and pedestrians
• Lack of adequate space for media and other hospitality needs
• Lack of adequate storage space
• Lack of ADA access for the facility including restrooms and seats at all levels.
• Structural analysis shows areas of cracking, spalling and deterioration
• Lack of air-conditioning throughout the building
• 33 year old boiler is poor condition
• Building does not have a temperature control system
• Plumbing system throughout the building is original
• Lack of availability for general public uses
The study essentially found that while the 62 year old iconic facility has served the community well and has been well maintained it is time to address some of the building deficiencies to insure its relevance 50 years from now.
Following their in-depth study, the architectural team developed a conceptual design to renovate existing spaces and construct building additions that will expand use of the facility throughout the year with air conditioned comfort. The project will be built in phases that will take about two years for completion, while the building will remain in use throughout the basketball season.The preliminary plans were presented by the architects to the City Council on December 16, 2014.
Recently joining the design team is JE Dunn Construction, a national construction firm which specializes in building sporting facilities. JE Dunn is working as the Construction Manager at Risk on the project, and is the lead builder.
The estimated $29 million improvements include:
• community gyms & running track
• weight training & sports medicine room
• locker and team areas
• drop-off plaza and new entrances
• lobby & ticketing
• concessions & food service areas
• restrooms & elevators
• offices, club areas and conference rooms
• landscaped parking facilities
Project Scope and Cost Estimates:
South Spectator Addition $ 8,885,147
North Athletic Addition 13,243,832
Renovation of Existing Facility 7,294,686
Total Project Cost $29,423,664
Project Funding Source
The Committee proposed the use of a special sales tax rate for a period of ten years or less which would need to be approved through a community referendum. By law the City is limited to no more than a total 1% on special purpose sales tax projects. At the time, the City had a .25% special purpose tax which would limit us to no more than a .75% sales tax increase. In addition to the sales tax revenue Hutchinson Community College (HCC) pledged an annual allocation of $500,000 for a ten year period to help retire the debt beginning in the year 2017. The annual $500,000 was included in the revenue projections needed to retire the debt. In order to finance the not to exceed $29,000,000 project including adequate bond coverage and capital improvement accrual, a .35% sales tax rate would adequately fund the project.
At the recommendation of the Steering Committee and City staff, the City Council agreed to place the question for a sales tax increase of .35% on the ballot during the April 2015 election. A citizen-led campaign resulted in overwhelming support with a 75-25% margin by local voters to provide sales tax revenues to pay for the project over ten years.
The Building Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council throughout the duration of the project. The purpose of the building committee is to lead and guide the process of renovation and expansion of the Hutchinson Arena within the parameters of the approved Sports Arena referendum. Building Committee members include:
- Darrell Pankratz, HCC
- Jon Daveline, City Council
- Bob Fee, American Legion
- Ron Sellers, Citizen at large & Committee Chair
- Steve Drach, Citizen at large
- Cindy Proett, Citizen at large
- Richard Gray, Citizen at large
- Provide oversight and input during design phase of project
- During Project Design phase provide numerous opportunities for input from various user groups on facility design and needs
- Working with design and construction team finalize project budget and scope for consideration and approval by the City Council
- Provide general oversight and guidance during construction phases
- Provide monthly review of project expenses
- Present regular updates to City Council on project status
Meetings are determined by the building committee, and are open to the public.