By Becky Pallack for Arizona Daily Star
Rio Nuevo has a $55M wish list for high-tech upgrades at the underused Tucson Convention Center to make it more appealing to meeting groups.
But Rio Nuevo doesn’t know where it will find the money to do the projects.
The Rio Nuevo board met at the convention center May 14 in a room board member Mark Irvin called “antiquated.” It has heavy floor-to-ceiling drapes the color of pea soup and pale mauve-colored walls.
Now that Rio Nuevo is wrapping up a set of TCC projects that included new arena seats, concessions and bathrooms, the board is considering future phases.
Rio Nuevo hired a consultant to draw up a detailed list with cost estimates that total $55M.
The first few projects — those most urgently needed to attract meeting business — would cost about $10M.
Those Phase 2 projects would include $4.3M to remodel the ballroom and “bring it up to 21st century technology,” said consultant Phil Swaim.
About $1.3M would be spent to renovate what McCusker called “disgraceful” restrooms. Another $3.4M would create a conference center with a high-tech board room, and another $1M would upgrade the arena’s locker rooms, dressing rooms and green rooms.
Phase 3 includes $6.1M to upgrade the exhibition hall, $11.8M to add meeting rooms, and $2M to add premium seating to the arena.
Phase 4 is an $18M parking garage that would be built on the existing parking lot at Granada Avenue and Cushing Street.
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