Phase 2A Report

The City Council approved the commencement of the Phase 2A Study from CSL and Betsch Associates on May 20, 2019. This study includes a deep dive into two additional scenarios. The additional scenarios include a renovated/expanded version of scenario 3, and hybrid version of scenario 4.

FFCC Phase 2A

Scenario 3

Scenario 3 represented a renovated complex with an expanded arena. This Scenario keeps the wall between the promenade and the current arena, removes the roof and raises the roof as well as expanding the arena across 5th Street. The arena would remain in its current east/west configuration and be a U-shape arena. It was agreed that should any critical flaws related to Scenario 3 be uncovered initially during subsequent planning work outlined, the City would have the opportunity to cease work on this scenario.

Scenario 3 when compared with Scenario 4 (Phase 2 Planning for Expanded and Improved Five Flags Civic Center – December 12, 2018) has poor performance on 8 of 10 issues. Scenario 3 has an estimated savings range of $15.27 million however has an ongoing operating deficit estimated at this point of $756,755. This is due to the operating inefficiencies inherent in the facility design with a reduction in facility square footage and lower event loads.

The consultants shared: “Although we are saving one wall and a portion of the fixed seating in the existing building to reduce the capital cost of the project, Scenario 3 has a number of functional issues which will compromise the operation and the revenue generation of this Scenario. Many of these issues are the same as those faced in the operation of the current building due to its size and configuration. While no single issue seems to constitute a “fatal flaw”, the cumulative effect of all of these conditions will result in a large expenditure for the construction of a new building that will be only marginally larger in seating capacity and still have many of the same operational issues and limitations of the existing Five Flags Center. These operational inefficiencies will also result in higher operating cost for the life of the project than necessary for a new building.”

Soils Analysis

The FY2020 budget approved a soils analysis as part of this study process. This was completed to understand the soils in the areas of the building expansion. Allender Butzke Engineers Inc. was hired for this specialty work. The soil borings and laboratory testing were completed, and included a preliminary engineering analysis and an initial geotechnical analysis to develop design options for the floor foundation and floor slab support.

Allender Butzke Engineers, Inc. coordinated with Betsch Associates regarding their findings. Ken Betsch shared that in the cost estimates of Scenario 4, they had used costs for augur cast piles. The soil analysis allowed them to research pressure routed cast piles and aggregate piers with spread footings. He reported that “these systems lend themselves better to the soils conditions and the proposed building loads and reduce project cost” and this has led to construction cost savings in the estimate. You can view the soils analysis here: Soils Analysis.

Scenario 4 (Hybrid)

Betsch Associates then began work on development of a hybrid of Scenario 4. The hybrid developed is a u-shape arena. It was developed to address the same issues that were addressed with Scenario 4 and perform similar to Scenario 4. Scenario 4 Hybrid shows excellent performance in comparison to the original Scenario 4 on 9 of 10 identified factors.

In Scenario 4 Hybrid the arena has a fixed seat count of 4,941 which included the premium seating areas. Premium seating includes larger boxes, club seats, suites and party seats. Premium seating areas are now an industry best standard practice that allows for premium pricing and revenue generation for facility while offering additional amenities to the guests at events and activities. The study also noted that there would be a seating count of 6,468 if an end concert was held or 5,001 seats for arena floor events.  

Scenario 4 Hybrid included excellent service access to the stage and other support areas, truck assess to the arena floor, a consolidated suite of locker rooms and dressing rooms for the performers, adequate storage areas, event pre-function area, premium seating, well distributed restroom facilities and concessions as well as a large lobby for special events.

The total estimated costs for Scenario 4 Hybrid is $75.1 million which compares to the updated pricing to 2019 dollars of Scenario 4 at $82.8 million dollars. The Scenario 4 Hybrid has a savings in the capital costs in a broad magnitude of $7.75 million. The current estimate of ongoing yearly operating for Scenario 4 hybrid is $346,001 versus the current fiscal year cost of $932,962 for the current Five Flags Civic Center.

2020: Plans Put On Hold

CSL made a presentation to the Five Flags Civic Center Commission and the City Council in November of 2019. At its Dec. 17, 2019 meeting, the Five Flags Civic Center Commission endorsed Scenario 4 Hybrid and recommended the City Council draft ballot language for an upcoming vote in 2020. The Dubuque City Council received and filed this correspondence at their Jan. 6, 2020 meeting and directed the City Attorney to draft ballot language. The language was presented and approved at the Feb. 17, 2020 City Council meeting, with a referendum vote expected to be scheduled in the near future. When the 2020 COVID-19 emergency hit, the City Council requested to delay the vote due to economic uncertainty and related supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. Setting a vote date was to be tabled until January 2022, when more economic certainty was to be known. The City Council then held a work session on Feb. 9, 2022 to review scenarios and determine future action. At this meeting the City Council requested updated cost estimates and projections to further discuss a potential referendum.