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Monroe mayor says new arena will drive more business downtown

(KNOE)
Published: Feb. 21, 2019 at 9:59 PM CST
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Downtown Monroe restaurants, like what use to be Iron Cactus, now sit empty. The former owner, Brad Parker said slow business had a hand in why he closed up shop.

"Was there enough [business]? Sometimes. Sometimes there wasn't," Parker said.

However, his 9-year-old restaurant in Calhoun is another story. It's busy on a Thursday night.

"It's a mindset to get people to come downtown," Parker said.

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said he's pushing to avoid another business closing its doors downtown. He says a new arena is the solution.

"This is a transformational project for the city," the mayor said.

Mayo talked about the arena project during his annual State of the City address at the Monroe Civic Center Thursday afternoon. He said the arena would be a two-level event center with 7,500 seats. He wants it to drive in more traffic and money.

"We have restaurants downtown that are quite frankly struggling and they have closed because they're not having the traffic, particularly after 5:00pm and this is something that will help them in a huge way," Mayo said.

He said 75 percent of the funding is secured without new taxes. KNOE was told he'll get the other 25 percent from sponsors. That's when he'll take it to the Monroe City Council for a vote.

Parker said he's not opposed to the idea and thinks it would invite people to the area, including him.

"I would go back down there. In the future, maybe so," Parker said.

The mayor said he'll bring the final proposal to the public and the council.

That's when KNOE expects to learn where all the money is coming from.

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