Local dignitaries gather for Sports Arena groundbreaking

TOLEDO -- It was out with the old as ground was broken for the new sports arena on Monday. And as News 11's Rob Wiercinski learned, many local dignitaries are -- simply put -- glad to be moving on.

"Today the promise of a new multi-purpose arena is real," said Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak.

"It's here, we did it, we're going forward," added Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken.

The Lucas County Commissioners were joined by dozens of other local dignitaries for the official groundbreaking. State Rep. Peter Ujvagi symbolized the step forward by giving the commissioners a piece of the old arena to include somewhere in the new arena.

As for the main tenant -- the hockey team -- its name is also a thing of the past.

"The Toledo Storm name is in the history books -- certainly not the memories -- but the name will be," said Joe Napoli, general manager of Toledo Arena Sports, Inc., a non-profit group managing both the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo's hockey franchise.

Napoli says Toledo's hockey team will be shooting to win over fans who are upset about the changes.

"We've got to win them back, and we've got to persuade them that it'll be a good move for them. That's number one. Number two, it's going to open up a wonderful opportunity for the rest of the community that has not experienced hockey," Napoli said, regarding the challenges ahead.

With on-site demolition wrapping up, a local business operator says the new arena is a positive sign for the city's business climate.

"There's going to be activity going on all 12 months of the year -- probably all 52 weeks out of the year -- that's the great thing about the arena," said Rob Horvath, COO of Tony Packo's.

The goal is to have the new arena open by the fall of 2009.

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