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W.V. SET TO CHOOSE ARCHITECT

The City Council will decide next week which architectural design firm it wants to plan its $26 million hockey arena, Mayor Gerald Wright said Wednesday.

Four national architectural firms made presentations at City Hall last Thursday. City officials had hoped to make the decision the same day, City Manager John Patterson said last week, but Wright said the city wants to conduct further interviews with the firms.Wright said West Valley City wants more room to negotiate terms of the potential contracts. On average, architectural firms secure 6 percent to 10 percent of an arena's total cost in fees, he said.

The West Valley hockey arena, scheduled for completion in September 1997, has an estimated total cost of $34 million.

"When you start putting dollars with that, it makes a big difference. We're trying to bring (the designer's percentage) down as low as we can," Wright said, noting that all four firms are "top-drawer."

Wright, also a member of the City Council, said the Council will make its decision on the arena's architect in a Sept. 7 meeting.

Grizzlies owners David Elmore and Donna Tuttle have worked on projects with all the candidate-firms in the past, Wright said. "(Elmore) knows they can bring the building in on budget," he said.

The firms are Odell Associates of Greenville, S.C.; Rossetti Associates of Santa Monica, Calif.; HOK of Kansas City, Mo.; and Ellerbe & Becket, also of Kansas City.

Odell has designed the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C., the 11,000-seat, Hampton Coliseum in Virginia and the 13,000-seat Baltimore Civic Center arena. Rossetti has designed a 6,200-seat hockey rink in Pontiac, Mich., a proposed sports complex in Detroit and a proposed sports arena in Los Angeles. HOK's handywork includes the Anaheim Arena, home of the Mighty Ducks' Duck Pond, the Lake Placid Olympic Village at Lake Placid, N.Y. and Chicago's United Center. Ellerbe & Becket is best known for The Mark of the Quad Cities arena in Moline, Ill., the Thomas and Mac Center at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Massachusetts' Lowell Arena in Lowell.

West Valley chief building official Ed Domian, who sat in on the 45-minute presentations, said each firm has designed at least 10 arenas.

"I was skeptical at first, because I work with architects all the time, but I was very impressed. These guys are specialists. This is how they make a living," Domian said.

"They're all very competent. I think we're going to get a beautiful building out of whoever designs it. This is not a decision we're taking lightly," Domian added.

Once the council selects a firm, design plans could take about six months to reach fruition, Wright said. In the meantime, the selected firm will help West Valley choose a local architectural firm to act as a liaison between the city and the head designers. That local firm will be selected as soon as possible, Wright said. It will need to be in place before bids can go out to electricians, concrete workers and other contractors, he added.

Patterson said Kansas City-based Turner Construction has already been retained for the 10,000-seat arena's construction.