Tucson/Rio Nuevo marriage put to the test

Today, the city of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo board stood side by side to announce they've made progress towards fixing up the TCC.

No work has been done yet but the design plans are underway and that's a big step for two groups who were at each other's throats just two months ago.

They've been fighting for years running up more than a million dollars in legal fees.

But in February, the two sides buried the hatchet and pledged to work together.

This is the first project the two have done and will likely be a test of their newfound relationship.

Rio Nuevo, which owns the TCC, and the city of Tucson which leases the convention center, told the TCC Commission that it should have plans finalized in the next few weeks on how to proceed.

"We're starting with the fan experience," says Fletcher McCusker, chair of the Rio Nuevo Board.

The TCC arena has not been upgraded since in was built in 1971 and featured Ike and Tina Turner as headliners.

The Rolling Stones performed there in 1972.

The arena has fallen into disrepair.

Rio Nuevo has been charged with spending its revenues on fixing the place up.

"The minimum is six million dollars," says McCusker. It could be higher than that as time passes and the cost of the needed repairs becomes more in focus.

The city has hired a local architect, Elaine Weaver, as the project manager.

"I think we can do a lot with six million dollars," she says. "Our goal is when patrons and performers enter, they see a noticeable difference."

She gave the commission a list of things she and the Rio Nuevo board agree are priorities, about 30 of them.

"In June, the Rio Nuevo board will approve the budget," she told the commission. "And by the end of June we should have pre-design complete."

About two weeks later, she believes "they will have the plans before mayor and council."

She says the goal is to have "the work done before the next Gem Show."

The Gem Show is scheduled for February 2014.