The Rio Nuevo board unanimously accepted a list of priorities for a $65 million renovation plan for the Tucson Convention Center.
The package of improvements, upgrades and additions throughout the Convention Center campus includes work on the main convention complex, the Tucson Arena, the Leo Rich Theater, the Tucson Music Hall and Eckbo plaza and fountain.
The next steps include securing financing for the project, selecting a contractor and sending the list to the Arizona State Legislature and the Tucson Mayor and City Council for approval. Built in 1971, the Convention Center needs the upgrades to compete for convention business, said Glenn Grabski, general manager of SMG, the company that operates the TCC.
The list of improvements includes:
Current commitments – $8.2 million
- Replacement ice plant for the hockey rink – scheduled to be completed in September
- A 350-spot parking garage near the northwest corner of Church and Cushing streets – construction scheduled to start in Spring 2020
- Adding 45 parking spots throughout the complex
Convention Center priorities – $14.7 million
- Renovation of South Exhibition Hall, convention spaces, existing meeting rooms, restrooms
- Lighting upgrades to the Arena
- Upgrades to streetscapes and connections throughout the campus
- Restoration and improvement of Upper Eckbo Plaza – includes a splash pad and new sidewalk and landscaping
- High-speed data infrastructure throughout the Convention Center
- Meeting Room expansion
- Adding 18,000 – 20,000 square feet of meeting space on the west side of the Ballroom and South Exhibit Hall
Entertainment Priorities – $26 million
- 634-spot parking garage west of the Music Hall
- Renovations to Music Hall – seating, restrooms, lobby, lighting, sound, green room, offices
- Outdoor patio for Music Hall
- Upgrades to restroom, lobby, lighting and seating in Leo Rich Theater
- Eckbo plaza – restoring the fountain, sustainability enhancements to the irrigation system, and upgrades to the Central Plaza and North Walkway landscape and sidewalks
Other items under consideration:
- Restoration of the Sosa-Carrillo House and museum
- Stabilization and repairs to the foundation and stucco, upgrading drainage
- Creation of outdoor plaza and designated parking area, expansion of the patio
- A second ice rink for community use
The board unanimously voted to move ahead with a new lease with the City of Tucson for the TCC. Under the new lease, which would continue until 2050, Rio Nuevo will benefit from new revenue created by the planned improvements.
The board was also presented with its fiscal year 2020 budget, which predicts a $3.5 million net benefit to the Rio Nuevo district.
Revenue is expected to be $19 million from sales tax revenues, property rentals and interest. Expenses from overhead, projects and debt service are expected to total $16.7 million.