Mid-America Center getting $886K in improvements - Omaha.com
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The Mid-America Center in 2012(ALYSSA SCHUKAR/THE WORLD-HERALD)


Mid-America Center getting $886K in improvements
By Tim Rohwer / World-Herald News Service


The Council Bluffs City Council Monday evening gave the go-ahead for improvements to the city-owned Mid-America Center – but not for a proposal for new activity in the adjacent MAC Plaza.

The council unanimously approved three major improvement items requested by MAC officials. One of them involves new exterior signs that promote upcoming events and used by advertisers.

“We hope to place signage on the north portion of the building facing 23rd Avenue,” said General Manager Mark Vacanti. “It will be a large sign with the MAC logo.”

Improvements to other signs on the grounds will also occur, he added.

“That could generate money for the center (through advertising),” said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh.

The listed cost for this project is $250,000.

The other two improvements are for improving and repairing mechanical systems to the tune of $168,000 and replacing some carpeting throughout the facility. The cost for that is listed at $468,000.

Those mechanical improvements like the heating and cooling systems could save the city in lower utility bills over time, City Finance Director Art Hill said.

According to Vacanti, those improvements would allow the use of the air conditioning system during warmer-than-normal winter days when large crowds can quickly cause temperatures indoors to skyrocket. Currently, the facility's air conditioning system is turned off after summer, he said.

About 54,000 square feet of the original carpeting will be replaced, he added.

“It's definitely at a point where we need to install new carpeting,” Vacanti said.

These items were selected for the council to approve at a meeting of the Mid-America Center Board of Trustees last fall.

The MAC is a convention center and arena that can hold up to 8,000 people for concerts. It is located just north of Interstate 29/80. It opened on Oct. 18, 2002 and is managed by Caesars Entertainment.

It was a different story for a proposal to rehab the mostly vacant Plaza adjacent to the MAC, as the council voted 4-1 to deny a memo of understanding between the city and the developer.

“We envision high-volume retailers, particularly restaurants,” said Drew Snyder, president of Woodsonig Real Estate of Omaha. “We're looking for fast casual restaurants and sit-down restaurants.”

Most of the council members disagreed.

“I'm not convinced it's going to add a lot to the area,” Branigan said.

Council members were bothered by the requested assistance of $5 million in helping to pay for the rehab. However, the city could have to wait up to 19 years to get its investment back, said Councilwoman Sharon White.

“The risk of failure is substantial,” added Councilman Al Ringgenberg.


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