Downtown businesses eager for arena

By Jonathan Walsh - bio | email

Posted by Dave Dykema - email

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - With a new sports arena taking shape, business leaders say they're excited about what that will mean for downtown Toledo.

The arena itself will have a special to bring people down the first weekend, Oct. 3 & 4. There will be plenty of free events to entice people to check out the new digs.

Business owners are anticipating great crowds and greater interest in downtown.

Sidelines has prime real estate, right across from the new arena. Thursday night the seats were a bit empty, but "We've already had a lot of people call and make reservations for months from now," says Michelle Pease, Sidelines manager.

Sidelines promises more entertainment, a better a nutshell, more for everyone downtown.

"I think it will make a huge difference for downtown with all the businesses and it's going to bring in a lot of new businesses as well," says Pease of the arena.

She may be right. Just down the block from the arena is Fifth Third Field, and even though the season is about over, buildings are getting snatched up.

Fans are noticing.

"I think the spot in Toledo is going to be great. Baseball, football, hockey...There's the Rockets...It's going to be really good," says Phil Summers.

Fans tell us the new arena will help bridge the gap for downtown businesses where a lull would usually take place after the Hens season.

The arena has given business owners something to cheer about.

"Now with the arena it's going to be a 12-month entertainment downtown," says Ed Beczynski, owner of The Blarney, located just a half-block from Fifth Third.

When News 11 pulled up to talk to him, Beczynski was touring some new space, looking to expand his business.

"I anticipated that four years ago when I bought the building that The Blarney is in," says Beczynski. "It's finally now all coming together."

Owners are hoping the arena will help keep parking lots full, and they'll be ready to keep customers downtown.

"It's going to be huge," says Pease.

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