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How to win an $8 million arena contract and avoid the usual RFP process

Eight million dollars. That’s a big contract — the contract to finish arena designs — especially considering the city never truly put it out for all architects to bid on.
I doubt too many people remember how DLR got in on the ground floor and then ended up with the contract to do preliminary arena designs — but this story I wrote in June attempts to explain how it happened. In a nutshell, only companies that were part of teams that put in bids to finance all or part of the arena project ever had a shot at the architects’ contract. In the end, no companies offered to finance the arena for the city, but the Urban Development Department decided to only choose from those teams’ architects.
I’m surprised local architects didn’t scream, but they’re probably still hoping to get arena work so don’t want to put up a fuss. That’s the way it usually goes.
This is contrary to purchasing rules approved by the mayor himself. Shortly after he took office, Beutler signed an executive order saying consulting contracts worth more than $250,000 must be advertised and awarded to the most qualified bidder by a selection committee that includes the city purchasing agent.
But other firms were not invited to put in bids and the selection committee did not include the city’s purchasing agent.
DLR had the inside track from the beginning: DLR principal Stan Meradith was invited to help with arena planning in 2004 by a key arena player, attorney Kent Seacrest and worked with various arena committees pro bono for several years before winning the first contract.
So the upshot is that DLR is about to get an $8 million contract to design Lincoln’s new arena without ever having gone through the RFP customary process. But I doubt the arena joint public agency will have any heartburn about approving the contract.

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