DECC down 100 parking spots, for now
The long-anticipated expansion of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center has begun, with the immediate effect of taking away 100 parking spots. Not to worry, DECC officials say, maintaining that the reduction from 1,800 to 1,700 spaces while ...
The long-anticipated expansion of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center has begun, with the immediate effect of taking away 100 parking spots.
Not to worry, DECC officials say, maintaining that the reduction from 1,800 to 1,700 spaces while a new parking ramp is built won't have a major impact during most events.
"It's extremely rare -- not more than three or four times a year -- when we would totally run out of parking," said DECC director of operations Bob Hom.
"Typically, we'll be fine, but on those nights when we have a symphony and a sold-out men's hockey [game], losing those 100 spots is absolutely going to cause problems."
Finding a parking spot will become more difficult in April when work begins on the new arena itself.
"We'll lose about 400 parking spots while the ramp and the arena are both under construction," Hom said, "and that will impact us significantly."
To deal with that impact, DECC officials are working with the Duluth Economic Development Authority to secure property west of Bayfront Park for parking. Shuttle buses would carry parkers from the off-site lots to the DECC.
Once the new, 475-spot parking ramp is completed in September and the new arena is finished in late 2010, the DECC will again have about 1,800 parking spots. But, since the planned arena can seat 6,600 people for hockey games or more than 8,500 people for concerts, DECC officials will have to plan carefully when scheduling events.
"Obviously, we can't have a big concert in one building on the night that we have a UMD men's hockey game in the other" without experiencing major parking problems, Hom said. "We could do women's hockey in the new arena and monster trucks in the old arena. We just need to be a little smarter."
Workers began tearing up blacktop immediately south of the DECC's parking ramp Friday for the new ramp. Plans are for the pilings, ground-level slab and support columns for the first deck level to be installed yet this year. Work will then be suspended until the spring.
The new ramp construction forced the DECC to create a new entrance to the existing ramp. The new entrance opened on the west side of the ramp Tuesday morning. On Friday, DECC employees handed out fliers to educate people about the new entrance.
"We're trying to be proactive and get information out there for people," DECC parking manager Madonna Ohse said. The best way to the new entrance is from the Railroad Street into the DECC lot, although "there will always be ways to get from one side of the DECC to the other," she said.