By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN, Neb. – University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare said Thursday that the architects who came up with cost estimates for the proposed Breslow Ice Center have been asked to go back to the drawing board, so to speak.
After being asked on KFOR’s Coby Mach Show about a Wednesday Nebraska Watchdog story questioning the ice center’s high cost estimates, Clare said the architects have been asked to go back and look at other facilities and the possibility of removing some amenities and adding a second sheet of ice.
ON ICE: The original renderings of the Breslow Ice Center had two ice rinks, but the project has been scaled down to one. Now the architects have been asked to go back to the drawing boards and see if another ice sheet can be added.
Nebraska Watchdog reported Wednesday that Sioux Falls is building a bigger ice center for $2.5 million less than the one being proposed in Lincoln. The Sioux Falls SCHEELS IcePlex will have two more ice sheets and almost twice as much square footage and seating as the $11 million one-sheet Breslow Ice Center Lincoln officials are considering building.
Clare said he doesn’t know what the Sioux Falls ice facility looks like, but the Breslow architects have been asked to look at that facility and others in Iowa and North Dakota.
Members of the Minnesota Ice Arena Managers Association estimate the average cost to build a one-sheet ice arena is $3.8 million, two-sheet arena is $7.2 million, three-sheet arena $9 million and four-sheet arena $11 million. If accurate, that would mean Lincoln is building a one-sheet center for the price of four.
But some ice centers are housed in metal buildings, Clare said, while the Breslow center is being designed with an “attractive” exterior that fits in with the Haymarket. The ice center would be built between Lincoln’s new Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Haymarket Park baseball stadium.
DLR architect Stan Meradith, whose firm designed the arena and helped come up with the Breslow center cost estimate, told Nebraska Watchdog Wednesday that the architects’ objective was to honor donor John Breslow’s vision for a community ice center that upholds the character of the historic Haymarket District. In other words, a metal building wouldn’t cut it.
Former state auditor and minority owner of the Phoenix Coyotes John Breslow announced plans to donate $7 million toward an ice center six years ago. Under a proposal being weighed by local officials, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln would own and operate the ice center, which would be built on city land. The city would donate the land and contribute $40,000 toward operating costs for the first five years. Last week, NU regents declined to approve the deal, saying they want the city to bear more of the operating costs.
Clare said they want a “nice, classy, good-looking facility.” He’s heard from the hockey and skating community that they don’t care much about meeting rooms but would like more ice sheets. Originally, the ice center was expected to have two sheets of ice, but the latest designs just have one with the possibility of expansion.
The West Haymarket Joint Public Agency that oversaw construction of the Pinnacle Bank Arena and development of the West Haymarket will considering donating up to $2 million toward the project on Tuesday. The ice center was bundled in with the arena project back in 2010, when Lincoln voters were asked to approve the downtown redevelopment. But its construction has been delayed while officials focused on getting the arena built and West Haymarket developed.
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