- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - A search is about to begin for an architectural and engineering firm to begin designing a proposed arena for downtown Fort Wayne.

The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board of Managers announced Thursday it is requesting proposals from firms for programming, conceptual and schematic designs. It is accepting proposals until June 22 and plans to select a firm by Aug. 1.

The selected firm will be responsible for the project’s designs and cost estimates. A decision will then be made as to whether to move forward.

No criteria have been set for what the board thinks would make a successful design, other than a venue that can host sporting and entertainment events.

Even though specific amenities haven’t been determined, Steve Brody, chair of the request for proposal committee, said the board will be able to tell developers what it’s looking for in general terms.

Brody said construction could begin as early as 2017 if the decision to move forward is made.

Last month, at the request of the city of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Board of Commissioners, the Capital Improvement Board agreed to lead and fund the proposal process. The Capital Improvement Board established a study committee to oversee the process, evaluate responses to the request for proposals, and make a recommendation to the Capital Improvement Board.

A committee appointed by Mayor Tom Henry unanimously recommended in March moving ahead with plans for a new arena that could host events too large for the city’s Grand Wayne Center and 2,500-seat Embassy Theatre and too small for the 13,000-seat Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The 64-year-old coliseum on the city’s north side underwent a $35 million expansion in 2002 that raised its roof to create space for 24 skyboxes and additional seating.

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