The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau commissioned a strategic feasibility study to evaluate the Rochester market in order to gauge demand for sports, entertainment, concerts, family shows and other events. The study was conducted in an effort to explore a public-private partnership solution to address the community's need for a modern, multi-purpose arena.
The feasibility study was compiled by real estate development and investment firm, Hammes Company, event facility design experts, Sink Combs Dethlefs, and Johnson Consulting. Before beginning the study, existing facilities such as Graham Arenas and Rochester Recreation Center were toured by agency representatives. Potential new building sites were also explored. Mayo Civic Center's, Taylor Arena, presented itself as an option to further research due to its ability to create a vibrant downtown gathering space in close proximity to existing and developing hotels, restaurants, and retail.
Taylor Arena's 29-year-old age, limited seating capacity, and sightline obstructions were deciding factors when determining if a remodel of the existing facility should be considered. The study provides a vision for a new, state-of-the-art, multi‐purpose arena to replace Mayo Civic Center's, Taylor Arena. Within the study is an evaluation of the Rochester market and potential demand to support the arena uses, target budget ranges and recommendations for arena options, as well as projections of economic and fiscal impact. Rochester's very strong median household income, growing population, and solid employment base makes the community attractive to concert promoters and sports event organizers.
The arena recommended within the study is needed for Rochester to remain competitive when attracting entertainment promoters. Current competitors for entertainment are the LaCrosse Center and Mankato's Verizon Wireless Center. If the proposed arena is built, it will compete with Des Moines, Green Bay, and Sioux Falls entertainment complexes which are located further distances from Rochester and therefore more attractive to promoters. There is an outdoor amphitheater component to the recommended arena floor plan which would open the building to Mayo Park allowing performers to use an indoor stage to play an outdoor amphitheater.
The study also provides an understanding of the needs of the United States Hockey League (USHL) which would be one of the primary tenants of the proposed facility. The USHL is considered to be the top junior league in North America and initiated discussions with Rochester representatives upon hearing of Destination Medical Center development. Preliminary discussions with a private investment group, called Northern Lights Hockey, have been ongoing throughout the feasibility study.
The strategic feasibility study results were presented to the Rochester City Council October 12. The council recommended further exploration. The next step is to present the recommendation to the Mayo Civic Center Commission in addition to the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency. The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau will return to the City Council with a proposed financing plan. A copy of the study is available to download.