The city council is investing money to restore the Civic Arena to a viable location in Saint-Joseph.
Long-time residents remember the days not so long ago when the arena was a place of excitement for all ages. High school teams played basketball at this facility, and only a decade ago the arena hosted the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship. The National Federation of Professional Bullriders have been hosting finals at the Civic Arena for an extended period.
In recent years, the arena is a reminder of what it used to be. However, thanks to pioneering investments by the city council, as well as new plans by the city’s parks department, new possibilities are on the horizon. This past weekend, the arena was the site of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
The funds used for the improvement of the downtown arena are expected to come from the American Rescue Plan Act and the new city parks tax. The parks department has declared its desire for regular catering ahead of events such as the Division II women’s basketball championships in March 2023.
But to breathe new life into the Civic Arena, a broader approach will be needed. In the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” the voice urging the main character to build a baseball field out of a cornfield says to the main character, “If you build it, they will come.”
The future of the Civic Arena depends not only on its construction – or in this case on its improvement – but also on the development of partnerships to help support new events.
In the case of the arena, finding ways to partner with businesses and develop the Downtown hotel is essential. City Council recently took a step in this direction with the approval of $ 10,000 for the redevelopment of a downtown hotel that closed two years ago. Although it will cost significantly more to reopen this building, we are supporting this initial effort as it will be difficult to host events at the Civic Arena without a viable hotel in the area.
In addition, the city could explore options to use a third-party entity for marketing and promotions at the Civic Arena and the Missouri Theater. This option was discussed a few months ago and should be reactivated as the city takes steps to improve the civic arena. The Missouri Theater, which uses outside entities for most promotions and marketing, is already the busier of the two establishments.
Further improvements in infrastructure, including better roads, parking and accessibility, will allow greater enjoyment and use of the arena for years to come. It can really become an even bigger asset to the city, something we all glimpsed in the weekend basketball tournament.