Expert Help Sought For Event Center

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A lot of decisions have yet to be made regarding the renovation of the Payson Event Center. One thing is certain -- the ball is rolling and Parks and Recreation Director Rick Manchester prefers it that way.

Manchester is spearheading the efforts to create a masterpiece arena on Payson's south end.

If all goes according to his rigorously detailed, 21-month plan, the new and improved event center could be completed by May 2009.

"It's aggressive," Manchester said of the plan. He added that it could be accomplished "if everyone is playing well."

Funding for the first eight tasks in Manchester's plan for the development, which are tentatively scheduled for completion by June 2008, were approved at a council meeting Aug. 16. What that means for the parks and recreation department, which is in charge of the event center, is that steps toward the hire of an architect for the project need to be taken.

Manchester said that his department is researching other event centers that have comparable size and demands for what would be needed in Payson.

He said event centers in Scottsdale, Wickenburg, San Carlos and two in Texas are among those considered.

The architectural firms responsible for those arenas will be considered for the Payson job.

While Mayor Bob Edwards has publicly stated his opposition to the hire of an architect prior to determining what the needs for the facility would be, Manchester said that he thinks it is important to have the expertise available from the beginning.

He said that the architectural firms in the running for the renovation "build three to five to 10 arenas a year." He quipped that the parks and recreation department and the Town of Payson has experience with one arena in the last decade.

Manchester said that having an architect on board from the beginning would allow them to get a better feel for what the community wants to see in the project.

"This is probably our only crack to do this right and build something that will last 25 to 50 years," he said.

According to the plan outline, an architect would be contracted by October.

The next task would be the creation of the Payson Event Center Technical Advisory Committee. At Manchester's suggestion, the committee will likely be comprised of seven to 11 members, among them town councilors, rodeo task force members and members of the business community.

By January 2008, the master plan outlines that the technical advisory committee and architects determine what uses would be most needed for the arena.

Manchester said that nothing is off the table in this area of discussion. He gave examples of a temporary ice skating rink, an arena capable of sustaining monster truck rallies and concerts.

"Whether we want to cover it, demolish it and rebuild it in the same place -- that's for the (technical advisory committee) to decide," he said.

Manchester insisted that public participation was essential in the process. If all goes as scheduled, construction on the center would be performed in the seven months between the high school rodeo and Spring Rodeo events -- October to May 2009.

"We're anxious to get started on it," he said.

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