ST. CHARLES, Mo.—The Family Arena in St. Charles is about to get more than $800,000 in improvements.
The improvements come as two sports teams prepare to make the arena home starting in 2013.
Previous indoor football, indoor soccer, minor-league basketball and minor-league hockey franchises have failed in St. Charles. The Missouri Monsters will play their first game as part of the Ultimate Indoor Football League on March 8. A new Central Hockey League team, the St. Charles Chill, starts play next fall.
The inside of the arena looks pretty much the same as it did in 1999. While there have not been a lot of updates, there have also not been a lot of successful franchises.
But while $130,000 put into the arena last year and another $843,000 this year might sound like a lot, St. Charles County officials maintain the money is worth it.
“What do you do with a $30 million-plus facility? Do you just board it up and make a warehouse out of it? No, that’s not the approach that the county has taken,” said St. Charles County Finance Director Bob Schnur.
“The Family Arena we kind of regard as a park in that yeah it cost some money to operate that facility, but we have hundreds of thousands and millions of people coming through,” said Schnur.
The track record for the arena isn’t encouraging. Out of the St. Louis Swarm, Missouri River Otters, St. Louis Steamers and four different football teams, none have lasted long.
Officials at the arena blame an out-of-date, low hanging scoreboard as the problem.
”When you want these new teams, when you want these new tenants or when you want to keep tenants, they want the new technology,” said Family Arena Marketing Manager Tom O’Keefe.
O’Keefe says a lot of shows just don’t want to deal with the arena because other venues have features that keep labor costs lower.
Out of the $843,330 dollars being spent to upgrade the facility, $630,000 of it will be spent to upgrade the scoreboard.
The County Council approved the bids on Dec. 17.