The company managing Allentown's hockey arena project will be on the job for an extra year, but city officials are still optimistic that the extra $1.3 million that the company will be paid won't bust the budget.
The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority voted Monday afternoon to extend its contract with the Hammes Co. until the opening of the 2014 hockey season.
The Hammes contract was set to end when in October 2013, when the Philadelphia Flyers' top minor league team, the Phantoms, were originally scheduled to begin playing in the proposed 8,500-seat arena at 7th and Hamilton Streets.
But a three-month court battle to settle lawsuits filed by neighboring municipalities over the arena financing changed that timetable. The opening of the arena was pushed back a year, so the contract extension was necessary, authority officials said.
Authority chairman Sy Traub said of the $7.8 million budgeted to pay the Hammes contract, $3.15 million -- roughly 40 percent -- had been spent by the end of September. He said that even if the one-year contract extension with Hammes costs another $1.3 million, that would still leave a surplus.
Traub and authority member Jennifer Mann spoke highly of the job that Madison, Wis.-based Hammes has done so far, with Mann saying, "We're pretty fortunate that [Hammes] is part of this endeavor."
Authority member Diane Scott said she supported the contract extension, but asked Traub, in the future, to make information about such matters available sooner so that she could analyze and study it before making a decision.
She also said she would be "more comfortable if we had some kind of display" to illustrate the information. "I'm a very visual person and this information can be difficult to process," Scott noted.