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Fenton hears proposal for Ballpark Village-style hockey venue

Fenton hears proposal for Ballpark Village-style hockey venue

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FENTON • Fenton city officials are considering a proposal for a hockey-themed sports and entertainment venue that would pay homage to the old St. Louis Arena on the site of the old Chrysler plant.

St. Louis native Mike Barack, president of Texas-based Hat Trick Consultants, pitched the complex with distinctive Arena-style features including an electronic sign with a player slapping a puck, an oval roof and two towers. The idea, he said, would be to lure a minor-league team to play there.

The pitch for the now-vacant site near Interstate 44 was made Thursday night at a special meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen.

The proposed $45 million multipurpose arena would be part of a complex with restaurants, hotels, retail outlets and office space. It was compared to Ballpark Village near Busch Stadium, but on a smaller scale.

The St. Louis Arena, where the St. Louis Flyers and later the St. Louis Blues hockey teams once played, was just south of Forest Park on Highway 40 (Interstate 64). The building, which was also known as the Checkerdome for several years, was demolished in 1999.

“That was my childhood,” Barack told the aldermen.

Barack said professional hockey has never built a retro arena.

“We’d have the same look, the same design and have modern amenities as the St. Louis Arena. I have a passion for this. Bringing back the marquee. Bringing back the oval roof. Bringing back the parquet seats. Bringing back the arena circle seats. ... I think this would bring nationwide attention to this project. We want to make this a destination for Fenton,” he said of the proposed 175,000-square-foot venue, which, with parking, would take up 10 acres.

The proposed arena would seat 6,200 fans for sporting events, with 30 luxury suites and 200 club seats, and seat about 8,000 for events such as concerts. A 1,500-space parking lot is part of the plan.

The venue would ideally become the home for a minor-league hockey team from the 30-team East Coast Hockey League, a premier AA minor league, Barack said. The team wouldn’t necessarily be associated with the Blues organization, Barack said.

Barack even had a proposed name for the team: the Fenton 44s, in honor of the nearby highway. The proposed team logo shows a player skating along a highway. “The name of the team is food for thought,” Barack said.

Barack proposed that the arena’s two towers be used for museums — one showcasing cars in honor and memory of the Chrysler Plant and the other a St. Louis Hockey Hall of Fame. “This is a hockey market,” Barack said.

He projected that the arena would create 100 jobs.

Terry Barnes, president of KP Development, which has the contract with Fenton to develop the old Chrysler site, said building the arena would mean 600 construction jobs.

Barack’s vision also includes finding another professional sports team, such as an indoor soccer squad, an arena football team or indoor lacrosse club, to play at the new venue as well as renting the site for high school sports events and graduations.

Barack said Independence, Mo., and Allen, Texas, both with East Coast Hockey League clubs, offer examples of successfully run sites. The Allen Event center is estimated to generate $10 million in economic stimulus, he said.

Independence set up a special taxing district to help pay for that project, Barack said.

The Fenton aldermen took no action on the arena proposal Thursday night. KP Development plans to work with the board on the proposal.

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