By Dave Scott - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
The developers who recently bought the Rubber Bowl are punting on their pro football idea but pursuing plans to add a dome and make the site an entertainment venue.
“The facility is going to become a multi-use entertainment facility,” Sean Mason, of Team 1 Marketing Group, said in an interview this week. “We will have concerts, sporting events — boxing, mixed martial arts and wrestling — so those are the things that we’ve been working on and have pretty much in line.”
Mason plans a spring 2015 opening — if the dome is added — or late fall this year if the Federal Aviation Administration does not approve the lid.
Brad Beckert, development engineering manager for the city of Akron, called that timetable ambitious.
“If he wants to put a dome on it, I think that’s pretty aggressive,” Beckert said. “I don’t really think — if you throw enough money at anything you can do get it done — but that’s tough. I know there are a lot of structural concrete issues with the stadium as it is. They’d have to do a lot of work.”
Mason said the dome might extend 60 feet above the stadium, so FAA approval would be needed because the Rubber Bowl property is near Akron Fulton International Airport.
Mason’s group had hoped to land a United States Football League team, but he says that is unlikely now.
A spokesman for the USFL said teams have not been selected for its 2015 startup.
Meanwhile, the Akron Blaze of the Rivals Professional Football League plans to start play at InfoCision Stadium next month.
Mason said the Rubber Bowl project is backed by a Colorado group willing to spend $10 million to $12 million on stadium repairs and an additional $8 million for the dome.
He said he has drawings for the work but has not submitted them to the FAA. He has no idea how fast the federal government might rule on the plan. He declined to identify his investors from Colorado, but said they are confident in their investment.
“We still think it is a very viable entity for the plans that we have, and we are confident that it will still be a good revenue source,” Mason said.
Beckert said the city has not seen architectural plans. He said Mason was asking him about building regulations the city no longer handles.
“I said, ‘You need to get an architect on board and go to the county building department,’?” he said.
Mason said seats from the stadium bowl are being removed. Sandblasting the concrete is next, followed by application of a sealant.
He said he has assured city officials that the bowl would not compete with a planned arena for downtown Akron.
Team 1 does not own the Rubber Bowl name and is trying to sell corporate naming rights.
Beckert said he wants to hear details of Mason’s plans.
“We are trying to help him, but we haven’t seen the full picture of what they are trying to do,” he said. “I guess until we get a more predominate picture of the full thing that he’s trying to propose, we will be able to help him out.”
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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