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Contingency Fund, Completion Date Are Hot Topics at Arena Meeting

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RALEIGH — The verdict is still out on whether Raleigh's new arena will be finished on time.

Another multi-million dollar money shortfall went before the authority overseeing the arena Monday.

Most people who pay for a significant construction project set aside money for unexpected costs, a contingency fund.

The contingency fund for Raleigh's new arena was the subject of great debate Monday. Also, there is no firm commitment on the completion date.

The arena construction has come a long way.

Although some estimates put the building a month behind schedule, once the roof is finished, construction can accelerate.

However, back on the ground, it looks like the funding debate is stuck in neutral.

"No one has a grasp not only of the size of this contingency fund but of which funding mechanism is the cheapest. In the best interest of this authority and the building, not the city, your fiduciary duty is to the authority and this building," said Reef Ivey of the Centennial Authority.

The Centennial Authority has enough money to build the arena. The current dispute centers around the contingency fund, a fund that would take care of any emergencies or surprises during the final months of construction.

Some say the Raleigh - Wake County offer of $5.2 million comes with too many conditions. Others say, they deserve some conditions.

"My opinion has always been that given that they've got $70 million in this project that additional oversight is a reasonable request for them to make," said Bill Mullins of the Centennial Authority.

For most people, the biggest question is whether the arena will be ready by Sept. 15.

"We are going to have to do the best we can. We are going to have to be flexible. It'll be ready when it's ready. There is no magic in this process, but I think September or October is the time frame," said Ray Rouse of the Centennial Authority.

The Carolina Hurricanes are not sounding flexible. They say they must have the arena by Sept. 15.

The contractor will face fines of $10,000 a day if it is not ready by then.

Monday, the authority voted to look at the cost of several bank loans in comparison to Raleigh and Wake County's offer.

Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer says, "it's like the authority is saying to the taxpayers, 'we're glad to have your money, but you have no impact.'"