MEETING CANCELED: Pitch for event center expected at Kalamazoo County Commissioners

Pitch for Kalamazoo Event Center expected at Kalamazoo County Commissioners meeting. (WWMT/File)

NOON UPDATE: The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners has canceled its meeting tonight due to the train derailment in downtown Kalamazoo.


Pitch for Kalamazoo Event Center expected at Kalamazoo County Commissioners meeting

Project leaders are expected to pitch a new arena to Kalamazoo County Commissioners on Tuesday.

This is a dream ditched in 2011 by voters after years of talk, but now downtown leaders say this is the time to bring a new event center to Kalamazoo.

Southwest Michigan First estimates it would cost roughly $110 million to build the 8,000 seat Kalamazoo Event Center.

The organization is hoping for voter approval of a 1 percent food and beverage tax at Kalamazoo County restaurants and bars to fund the arena.

Proposed sites include downtown Kalamazoo, empty land off Stadium Drive near Western Michigan University and a vacant lot near the Heritage Guitar factory.

Ron Kitchens, the chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, said the proposed event center would be the crown jewel that turns downtown Kalamazoo into a destination.

Backers of a new downtown events center say facility could be Kalamazoo's crown jewel

"We want to see concerts and live entertainment in our home town, not have to drive an hour away and come home at one o'clock in the morning to be able to see the best music acts, to see the circus, to see these great things," Kitchens said. "Frankly, if we don't do this we're going to continue to see population decline, this is one of those expectations of growth that great communities have."

The plan would create 200 permanent jobs and up to 700 construction jobs.

If it passes, construction could begin as early as the summer of 2019.

Members of the Southwest Michigan First will present their ideas at the Kalamazoo County Commission meeting of the whole at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Stay with Newschannel 3 for updates.

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