Rio Nuevo could save TCC and Gem Show

By Sergio Arellano-Oros

For years, the City of Tucson swept the monies intended for upkeep on the Tucson Convention Center into the General Fund. Now, it appears Rio Nuevo might come to the rescue of the downtown arena.

Rio Nuevo’s attorney, Mark Collins, advised the board that has bond counsel has affirmed that the new Rio Nuevo District Board can spend the remainder of the $80 million 2008 bond sale on the building.

Rio Nuevo became the owner of the arena as per the requirements of a TIF district. The District’s Chairman Fletcher McCusker said, “Because of the notice to proceed issue, the only thing we can spend money on at this time is the TCC.” The Gem Show, the area’s largest draw for tourists, is at risk due to the dilapidated condition of the arena.

The Rio Nuevo District Board approved an expenditure of $43,250 for a drainage study on two properties behind the TCC. Stantec Consulting Services will perform the study.

The vote was 5-1, with Mark Irvin voting against it. The Rio Nuevo District can spend up to $50,000 without city approval.

Results of the audit are expected to be disclosed to the public along with a settlement proposal from Rio Nuevo to the City of Tucson at a public meeting next Monday.

Fiscal conservative and Rio Nuevo Board member, Alberto Moore, said he heard City Councilman Steve Kozachik complained about the move. Moore said, “This goes to show once again that Steve doesn’t know what he is talking about. He will say anything to anyone to get his name in the press. They have done nothing to create jobs and do everything to block development.”

“We are pleased with the recommendation from bond counsel that we can invest the remainder of the 2008 bond proceeds and the engineering study will pave the way for development west of the TCC,” said McCusker. “We are working to end this feud and put the TIF District back to work on revitalizing downtown.”

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