A consultant’s updated analysis of capital and operating costs for an expanded/improved Five Flags Civic Center has been completed and will be discussed by the Dubuque City Council at their Monday, April 18, meeting.

The city council requested this updated analysis in order to more appropriately plan for a potential public referendum for the project.  If the city council chooses to pursue the project, a public referendum would be required and the soonest a public referendum vote could be held is September 13, 2022.

Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) and Betsch Associates completed the analysis as an update to their previous estimates completed in 2018/2019 for “Scenario 4 Hybrid.” This project scenario includes demolition of the existing Five Flags Center arena, improvements to Five Flags Theater, and the development of a new, state-of-the-industry arena via a northward expansion of the center’s current footprint. This option would increase attendee capacity to nearly 6,400 for concert events and 6,000 for arena floor events (i.e., no portable floor seats).

The previous estimate for a total project cost was $74.34 million.  The updated analysis increases that estimate to $89.7 million, an almost 20.7% increase.  If a referendum is held and passed and the project was financed over 20 years, the City’s financial advisor has calculated the property tax impact to the average homeowner (based on an average home value of $159,503) would be $193.28 the first year and would decrease each year to $161.59 the final year.

The report states the largest increase in component project cost since the preparation of the last estimate pertains to structural steel, the cost of which has risen almost 50% from last year. It also states that costs for roofing, glass and glazing, doors and hardware, finishes, equipment, furnishings, and elevators have all increased approximately 20%. The costs for the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical trades have also increased approximately 20% from the last estimate. In addition, an approximate 10% increase in cost for site work has been included, while concrete, masonry, and contractor’s markups have been retained at the same level as the previous estimate.

The new project schedule used for the estimate assumes a voter referendum occurring in September 2022, design completion by the beginning of 2024, construction bidding by mid-2024, and the mid-point of construction occurring in April 2025. The new estimates consider continuing disruption effects induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and construction inflation expectations through 2025.

The updated analysis includes new operating projections as well as utilization and attendance projections for an expanded/improved Five Flags Center. It increased projected annual revenues from $1.75 million to $1.96 million and expenses from $2.1 million to $2.2 million.  The updated estimates indicate a reduction in the facility’s annual operating deficit from its current level of $856,000 to approximately $252,000, a 70% reduction.

A copy of the updated analysis, as well as additional project background, is available on the City of Dubuque website at www.cityofdubuque.org/fiveflagsstudy.

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