EDINBURG — The city did not deny the new Bert Ogden Arena a certificate of occupancy because the contractor has yet to apply for one, City Manager Pilar Rodriguez said Thursday in an attempt to correct what he called misinformation.
On Tuesday, a local blog known as Valley Delta published letters the city sent to Cantu Construction appearing to indicate that the contractor for the arena had failed to acquire a certificate of occupancy after a July 18 walkthrough of the facility.
Without a certificate, the arena cannot open its doors.
Valley Delta’s website highlighted “safety deficiencies” and referred to the walkthrough as a “less than satiable safety inspection.”
“It’s not exactly the way it’s being spun,” Rodriguez said about the website’s post. “First of all, the arena has not requested a certificate of occupancy yet, so there’s a little bit of misinformation out there saying, ‘Well, they were denied.’ Well, no, they weren’t denied because they have not asked for one yet, because they’re not quite ready to ask for one yet.”
Instead, the walkthrough by the Edinburg Fire Marshal, the chief building official, and the planning and zoning department was a proactive effort on the city’s behalf to ensure that the facility was on track to open its doors later this month.
“It was kind of a progress report, for lack of a better word, so that the contractor knew what he was still pending,” Rodriguez said. “We knew that they were planning events, so we were being proactive with them because we didn’t want to spring that on them at the eleventh hour and say, ‘You have all these issues; you can’t open.’”
Arena officials hope to obtain a certificate before Aug. 31, when Mexican pop star Luis Miguel is scheduled to christen the building with his performance.
“The most important thing for the city of Edinburg are the life-safety issues because it’s a large venue. It holds a lot of people,” Rodriguez said about the facility, which can seat up to 9,000 people. “So we’re working with the contractor to make sure that they address (pending issues) and that when they get ready to open, not only is it a nice-looking facility, but a very safe facility.”
The $88 million arena is being constructed through a public-private partnership between the city and Vipers Arena LLC, which is owned by Alonzo Cantu. Cantu is also the owner of Cantu Construction, which is the arena’s contractor.
All three entities have been coordinating to ensure all code requirements are met.
“It’s coming along. I know there’s a lot of effort going on out there,” Rodriguez said. “We’re spending a lot of time out there to make sure everything is in compliance, and as far as I can tell, the contractor is working very diligently to get that done.”