TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Convention Center arena is about to get an $7.8 million upgrade.
The TCC is one of the oldest arena's in the Southwest and is in need of repairs.
This work won't be in infrastructure, it will be entirely cosmetic.
"We want to enhance the fan experience," says Ward 6 council member Steve Kozachik. "The days of saying this is infrastructure are gone."
The Rio Nuevo board voted 5-1 to give the city nearly two million more than had been appropriated. Part of the reason is because the board found unspent bond money and secondly because "it shows the community that we're sincere in getting the TCC upgraded," says Jeff Hill, a member of the board.
The city, according to Operations manager Ron Lewis has sunk $17 million into TCC infrastructure in the past ten years, things like air conditioning and new electrical systems.
Now, the Rio Nuevo board has approved a new sound system, bathroom upgrades, signage, paint, new padded seats so that "when people walk in the building they need to see something."
Rio Nuevo started the day with a $6 million budget but added the other things because one, they can afford it and two because these are things "people see, feel and touch," said Fletcher McCusker, chair of the Rio Nuevo board.
He said we "need to get the TCC off the blacklist."
"It's been blacklisted to have type of convention in there," Hill says. "We need to get off those blacklists and we need to have a modern looking facility."
Work in the TCC will begin in early July and we're told much of the facelift will be finished by mid-September.
"We certainly need it done before the next Gem Sow," Hill says.
In a related matter, the city also approved a new development for 5th and Congress.
It will be a three story project which will include three restaurants, free space, business and commercial space.
It's an $11 million project approved as part of the downtown business district formed by the city last year.
It's the seventh project approved by the district, several of which are under construction.
"It's an increase in the tax base and that's the key to economic recovery," says Kozachik.
"It just makes common and economic sense," Hill says.