Rochester considers $55M sports/entertainment venue to lure hockey team

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Officials in Rochester are looking at options for building a new ice arena and entertainment center downtown, with hopes of attracting a new hockey team to the area.

Consultants hired by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau proposed a multi-purpose facility with 4,000-6,000 seats, which would be built at a cost of $55 million-$75 million, to the City Council Monday night.

And while no action was taken, the council is interested in having more discussions about the proposal, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports.

The original idea, proposed about a year ago, was to add an ice arena onto the existing Mayo Civic Center in downtown Rochester because some in the community are interested in bringing a United States Hockey League team to the city.

But the idea has mushroomed into a facility that's more flexible and would potentially attract a variety of other entertainment events like concerts, ice shows, professional wrestling and trade shows, according to the Post-Bulletin.

The consultants said the 29-year-old Taylor Arena, which is part of the Mayo Civic Center, has limitations such as seating capacity and sightline obstructions that led them to recommend tearing it down and building a new "state of the art" facility on the same site.

The USHL is a junior hockey league based in Chicago. Its 17 teams are located mainly in Midwest cities including Fargo, Des Moines, Omaha, Madison and Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Sioux Falls, S.D. The league doesn't have any teams in Minnesota right now.

At one point there was a USHL team in Rochester, called the Mustangs, but it left the city in 2002, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

The convention and visitors bureau says representatives of the city and the USHL have had some preliminary discussions, but the Business Journal said there's no commitment from the league at this point.

The proposal is still in its very early stages. The next step is to present the plan to the board that runs the Mayo Civic Center.

Community leaders in charge of the $6 billion Destination Medical Center development will also be asked to evaluate the proposal to see how it might fit in with the DMC's overall plan for downtown Rochester.

The convention and visitors bureau said it will develop a financing plan for the project and present it to the City Council at some point in the future.

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